Blogging My Book: Starting the Design Process

In my previous post, I discussed the difficulty of thinking about my words and pictures without imagining how they will appear in page layouts, and how those layouts will flow as the book progresses from beginning to end.

I went on to note that, as much as I’ve tried to keep design out of my mind, it keeps intruding. I concluded by saying that maybe it should, because design is as important as the words and pictures, and it soon will take center stage in my book production process.

Well, I have to say that design is a persistent thing. It’s like that visitor that keeps knocking, knocking, and knocking on the door of my mind. I’ll just have to let it in.

Before the Design, the Research

I’m starting my design process with an activity that precedes computers and software. For lack of a better term, call it design research.

For me, design research is as simple as pulling books off the shelves, carrying them over to the couch, and leafing through them. While I’m doing this on-the-couch research, I’m taking notes on what I like and don’t like about the book designs.

And I’m not limiting this research to books. I’m also finding some excellent ideas in periodic publications like magazines, annual reports, and product catalogs.

What am I finding that I like?

For books like the one I’m planning I like the two-column layout. Although this book will feature my photos, I’m also a writer.

In order to accommodate all of my words, I’ll need more than one column on the page. Two columns? Perfect.

What don’t I like?

I’m finding that many of my books use microscopic fonts for the body copy. What a chore to read!

Getting irritated over font sizes is prompting me to ask questions about my own typography. How big should the body copy be before the book looks like an elementary school textbook? What should my headlines look like? How about the subheads? The captions?

Design research? It’s turning into quite the process. I’ll keep posting on how it evolves.

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