3 – Front matter and back matter.
Unlike dark matter or plasma matter, these are not NASA space terms. Front matter and Back matter are a group of specific textual items that should/could appear in front of (front matter) and in back of (back matter) your manuscript text.
The Chicago Manual of Style lists 16 front and 11 back matter items, and it details the order in which they occur in general use. These items include things like your copyright info, dedication, acknowledgments, foreword, contents, index, appendices, glossary, etc. If you are going to create your own book interior, in order to pull off a professional looking job, it’s a good idea to know these items, and where they belong.
4 – Margins and gutters and leading, oh my!
Without going into too much history, in the mid to late twentieth century the Van de Graaf and Golden canons (translation canon = law) described a specific set of rules for the size and placement of the print space of a book, to divide a page in pleasing proportions. These laws are largely forgotten today, however, since these days it seems everyone wants to jam each page full of text from trim edge to gutter. Although, commercially, it does save money on paper and ink, it’s very unsettling on the eye. The object of text layout is to make your reader comfortable reading your words.
For a typical novel, you’ll want to leave at least a one inch margin top and bottom to allow room for your running heads and page numbers. — something we’ll discuss next week — and at lease a 3/4 inch margin from the trim edge. And finally, there must be enough space at the spine of the book (the gutter) if the text is to be visible after binding. You should also know that this gutter measurement changes with an increase in the number of pages.
Finally, a short word on leading, before this post gets too long. The main thing to note is that your ascenders and descenders don’t bump into each other, but rather have breathing room between them. I find the optimal leading, or spacing between lines of text, is 1.5 – 2 points larger than your font size. So, for example, if your font is 10pt, your leading should be 11.5, to 12.
Again, stay tuned next week for more tips on book design.