Tips for designing the insert

Here you'll find tips for margins, font sizes, line space, message and legibility.


For the text to be easily comprehensible, the ideal column width is 55-65 characters, including spaces. Tricks that can be used to increase legibility, other than using two or more columns, include:
• Increasing the font size
• Using wider margins to reduce the width of the columns
• Keeping a ragged right margin

Other than the legibility, the margins affect the aesthetics of the page and spread. A general rule of thumb is that the footer, i.e., the margin at the bottom of the page, should be roughly twice the size of the header, or the top margin. For thick, perfect-bound books, the inside margin must be increased to make the text closest to the spine legible.

Font sizes and variants

Suitable point (size) of the font in running text is 10-12 points. It is better to choose a larger font over a smaller; making the text legible to a reader with worse eyesight. We recommend 11 points for G5 and 12 points for A4. Footnotes are typeset in 1-2 points smaller than the running text, and with reduced spacing. Tables and figure captions may also be smaller than the running text, but this is often a question of taste.

Italic font (slanted format of a font) is often used when something is to be highlighted or emphasised, rather than using semi-bold/bold or underlined text. Italics are also common in figure captions.

A bold font (semi-bold or bold format of a font) will often stick out, and the eye is easily drawn to it at the expense of the other content. This format should be used sparingly, but is very effective in smaller headings.

Line spacing

For the running text, when writing in Swedish, you should choose a line spacing that is at least 20 per cent smaller than the height of the font, to fit the letters å, ä and ö. At a font size of 11 points, you should thus use a line spacing of 14 points (abbreviated 11/14 pt), and for a 12-point font, line spacing should be 15 (12/15 pt). When writing in English, it may suffice to add an extra 10 per cent to the line spacing, e.g., 10/11 pt. Footnotes and captions are usually more compactly typeset with smaller line spacing than the running text, e.g., 9/10, 10/11 or 10/12 pt for footnotes and 11/13 or 12/14 pt for captions.

Message and legibility

If you are working with a double-sided document, you should work with one spread at a time to achieve a good look. At a first look, the reader's eye will be drawn to the top of the spread, and will want a fixed point on the left, in the corner. It is always a good idea to place a header or an illustration in that corner. Try to think of ways to keep your story moving through the document. One thing to keep in mind is that the eye should always be drawn to the running text of the spread, which can be achieved for example by placing at least one paragraph of the running text in the lower right corner, thus connecting it to the next spread.

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Belongs to: Student at KTH
Last changed: Apr 02, 2020