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Topic 6 - Introduction to Book Design


After reading this topic, you'll know:

  • Why book design matters
  • About common book interior and cover design elements
  • About tools that can help you format your book easily and effectively
  • How to transform your finished manuscript into a formatted file ready to be uploaded to KDP


You've completed Milestones 1 and 2. You've just started Milestone 3, which covers book formatting. Later, you'll set rights and pricing (Milestone 4).


Video: Work backwards to create a quality book

Why book design matters

Imagine you're shopping for a book. You notice a title that looks interesting and you take it off the shelf. But then you see a grainy image on the cover. You open the book, and the font is too small and the text has formatting irregularities. Would you buy this book? Probably not.

This is why book design matters. Reading is a visual experience and appearances are important for book customers—so important that they probably won't buy a book whose appearance doesn't meet their expectations. The effort you put into formatting could make or break a reader's decision to buy your book.

Interior design

Now imagine the inside of a well-designed book. What are all the elements that make this design appealing? See the diagram below to learn more about the pieces of a book’s interior and why they matter.

Cover design

Now imagine the cover of a well-designed book. Again, think about all the elements that make the design appealing. See the diagram below to learn more about the pieces of a book's cover and why they matter. The information about typography and imagery apply to eBooks and paperbacks; the information about spines, back covers, and bleed only apply paperbacks.

Formatting tools

Concerned that you don't have the skills or time to design your book? We have tools that can help you format your interior and cover easily and effectively:

  • Format an eBook. Use Kindle Create (PC or Mac) to transform your completed manuscript into a beautiful Kindle eBook. The tool makes creating an active table of contents easy by automatically detecting and styling chapter titles. It works with several word processing applications that can export to .doc(x) format (e.g., Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Google Docs).
  • Format a paperback. To help you format your paperback manuscript file, we've created templates in Microsoft Word into which you can insert your content. The templates come in a variety of trim sizes and include sample content to guide you, including front matter, chapters, headers, and page numbers.
  • Design a cover for your eBook or paperback. Use Cover Creator to create an eye-catching cover with a stock photo from our image gallery or an image you provide. You’ll choose a layout, color scheme, and font that best captures your book’s content. The tool also allows you to preview your cover before you publish.

    Find five books with content similar to yours and take notes on the interior design choices (e.g., font, decorative elements). How do these choices reflect the books’ content? When you format your book interior with the tools we recommend, you’ll choose from four themes: Modern, Classic, Cosmos, Amour. See the examples below and choose the theme that best fits your book.

    You just finished writing your book, and you're tempted to submit your manuscript as-is to KDP. Don’t. There's a big difference between a finished manuscript and formatted file that's ready to upload to KDP. For the best results, use the recommended tools. To learn more about why it's worth it to format your book before self-publishing, read this article.


    1. Take your notes from the activity above and make a list of design decisions for your own book. Knowing how you want your finished book to look will help you format it.
    2. Next you'll turn your finished manuscript into a formatted file. If you want to publish an eBook, go to Topic 7. If you want to publish a paperback, go to Topic 8.

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