Unless you’ve written a book or worked in publishing or as a designer, you’ve probably never given typesetting a second thought. The thing is, proper typesetting is critical to an enjoyable and effortless reader experience – whether you’re publishing in print or digitally.
What is typesetting?
Typesetting refers to the design and arrangement text on a page of either a printed or digital format publication. This may include font choices, type size, spacing, kerning, tracking, leading, punctuation, widows and orphans, hyphens, scaling, justification, and more.
Professional typesetting services will also include other interior design and layout elements, such as margins, columns, white space, running heads, footers, new chapter design, and more.
In short, typesetting relates to how a publication – whether that be a 700-page novel or TV manual – actually looks.
Why does typesetting matter?
Quality typesetting isn’t just about putting words on a page; it ensures reading is effortless. A proper layout creates the right impression and delivers an exceptional reader experience.
Poor typesetting, on the other hand, makes reading difficult. You’ve probably experienced poor typesetting at some point – maybe you’ve read a book that just looks ugly.
As a typesetting professional, I rarely need to buy books. I am lucky enough to have a never-ending supply arriving in the mail for our library. But, on the odd occasion, I do order books from overseas. Incredibly, more often than not, they are simply ugly.
This happened to me recently. I was reading a book I had delivered from the States and was amazed by the low standard of typesetting. I found it difficult to read more than a few pages at a time; hyphenation was all over the shop, words broke across pages, and the styling was inconsistent throughout.
But why does that matter? It matters because it makes reading a chore rather than a pleasure.
Fixing a poorly typeset publication
Here in Australia, our standard for quality layout is world-class. We care about our readers and the readability of the books we produce.
The standard we keep became apparent when Post Pre-Press recently worked on a buy-in for a major publisher. In most circumstances, these types of jobs require only a few minor adjustments and an updated imprint page. This particular file, however, was so visually unappealing that we reset the book entirely.
‘It was just ugly’ was all our typesetter Julian had to say. Yes, very technical terms.
We fixed the poor typesetting by making the following changes:
- Adjusted the poor layout of text on the page
- Removed excess white space at the bottom of the page
- Increased the point size (font size) to ensure text is easy to read
- Increased the centre margin, so the text in the gutter wasn’t lost or difficult to read
- Corrected the worst offending hyphenations
- Updated the leading to a more visually appealing one with added space between the lines
Of course, this added to the cost of the project, but it was an expense the publisher was prepared to cover. They understand their market and value the reader experience – and a poorly typeset book reflects badly on everyone.
Typesetting is like the foundations of a building
Typesetting is only ever noticed by readers if it’s done badly. And it’s true that spending money on something that no one should notice might be considered a little unusual. But neglecting to carefully consider your book’s typesetting is a bit like skimping on quality foundations when building: no one sees them, but if not done correctly, you will end up with a product without integrity.
Ensure your publication is a breeze to read
If you have an upcoming project and would like a detailed typesetting quote, please get in contact. We are more than happy to chat through your specific needs. Call today on (07) 3395 2022 or head to our Contact page.