Poetry Books: Guidelines & Design Options


 

Transcript  

Poetry books often come with their own special design and formatting concerns. If you’ve written a poetry book, this video will provide some tips to help your book’s production go as smoothly as possible.

Merging Your Poems into One Manuscript
A special concern for poetry books is the order in which the poems should appear. It is best if you submit your poems in a single document, in the order they should appear in the finished book. If you need help merging individual poem files into one continuous file, please watch our tutorial on File Merging. If you are unable to submit a single merged file, Trafford can merge your files for an additional fee as long as you submit a list detailing the order of poems.

Changing the Margins of Your Poetry
Many poems contain special formatting achieved by using spaces, tabs, and hard returns. This is fine if you are typing inside the final page margins of your chosen book size, but most of our authors write their manuscripts in much wider page margins, usually 8 ½ by 11. For most other types of books, these are the margins we recommend. But if your book is poetry, it is better if you change the margins to fit your chosen book size before submitting it for publication. This way, you can see how the change in margins will affect any manual formatting you may have, and if necessary, you can correct any errors.
Our most popular book sizes for poetry are 5 by 8, 5 ½ by 8 ½, 6 by 9, and 7 ½ by 9 ¼. I’ll show you how to change the margins for a 5 by 8 book and then we’ll put the margin specifications for the other book sizes on screen.

For Microsoft Word users, go to ‘File’ and ‘Page Setup’. In the window that pops up, first go to the ‘paper’ tab and enter the width and height of your chosen book size. Then, click the ‘margins’ tab. Set your top and bottom margins to 0.75. Set the left and right margins to 0.5. And then set your gutter to 0.125. Next, where it says ‘multiple pages’, select ‘mirror margins’. Then, click the ‘layout’ tab. Where it says ‘header and footer’, set both to 0.5 inches. Finally, click ‘okay’.
Here are the margin specifications for each of our available book sizes.

 

Margin Requirements Based on Trim Size (in inches)  

Book Size
(page width/height)
 

top/bottom  

left/right  

gutter  

header/footer  

5

8

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

5.5

8.5

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

6

9

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

7

10

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

7.5

9.25

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

8.25

11

0.75

0.5

0.125

0.5

Once you’ve changed the margins to match your chosen book size, look carefully through your manuscript. If you’ve done a lot of manual formatting with the spacebar, ‘tab’, and ‘enter’ keys, you may need to fix some things. But if your margins have been changed correctly, this should be the last time you’ll ever need to do so.

Design & Formatting Options
Now, I’ll share a few design and formatting options. If you have any preferences about the way your book should be designed, you can communicate them on our Special Formatting Request form. If you need a copy of the form mailed or emailed to you, contact a representative.

Hanging Indentations
Once you’ve changed your manuscript’s margins to fit your chosen book size, you may see long verses of poetry that no longer fit the width of the page in a single line like you intended. If so, you’ll want to either choose where to break these verses or format them with what is called a hanging indentation. In a hanging indent, the first line of a verse is flush with the left-hand margin, but any additional lines in the verse are indented. A hanging indentation is the traditional way of formatting a verse that should be read as a continuous thought even though it doesn’t fit on a single line.

To create a hanging indent, highlight the paragraph or the verse of poetry in which you want to create the indent. Then, go to your horizontal ruler at the top of your screen. If you don’t see the horizontal ruler, go to ‘View’ and ‘Ruler’. On the horizontal ruler, drag the hanging indent marker to the position at which you want the indent to start. Your selection now has a hanging indent. If you’d like, you can selectively format your hanging indents yourself or you can specify on the Special Formatting Request Form that you would like all long verses of poetry to have a hanging indentation.

Page Breaks & Facing Pages
After you’ve changed your margins to fit your chosen book size, you may see poems that used to fit on a single page now taking up two. Where the pages break in a poetry book, as well as which pages are facing one another, may or may not be important to you. If they are, you should include this information on the Special Formatting Request Form. I’ll discuss a few options you might want to consider.

For poems that will not fit on a single page, your design team can either let the text break naturally or they can try to balance the two pages with an equal amount of text. If the text breaks naturally, the first page will be full and the second page will have however many remaining lines of poetry there are. If you would prefer the pages be balanced, you can decide for yourself where to break the text, or you can have your design team take care of it for you. To break the text yourself, just position and click your cursor where you want the text to break. Then, go to ‘Insert’ and ‘Break’. In the window that pops up, select ‘Page Break’ and click ‘okay’. If you want your design team to balance the pages for you, be sure to say “balance pages for multi-page poems” on the Special Formatting Request Form.

Another thing to consider in poetry books is facing pages. In all books, there are left and right-hand facing pages. You may prefer that long poems be broken across facing pages or you may have a pair of poems that work best opposite one another. If this is the case, you can adjust your manuscript to make your facing pages work, or you can instruct your design team to do it for you. If you want to do it yourself, you can insert page breaks wherever needed as we discussed earlier. Keep in mind that the first page in your manuscript is a right-hand facing page. When you turn that page, Page 2 is on the left and Page 3 is on the right. All even-numbered pages will always be on the left, and all odd-numbered pages will always be on the right. This will help you figure out whether or not certain pages will end up facing each other in the final book or if a page turn will come between them. If you prefer your design team do this for you, specify on the Special Formatting Request Form if you would like long poems to be on facing pages or which particular pages need to be across from one another.

Please be aware that in order to make facing pages work, your design team may need to insert a blank page side or rearrange the order of poems. For example, let’s say in the middle of your manuscript you have a short poem followed by a long poem and you would like the long poem to be split across facing pages. If the short poem falls on a left-hand facing page, the long poem will need to skip the right-hand page in order to appear on facing pages. This leaves a hole on the previous right-hand page. If it is okay to rearrange the order of poems, your design team can place another short poem on the blank page. Please be sure to write on your Special Formatting Request Form whether it is okay to rearrange poems or insert a blank page side in order to make facing pages work.

Text & Page Alignment
It is easy to mix up text and page alignment, so let me first illustrate the differences. There are three kinds of text alignment: left-aligned, right-aligned, and center-aligned. If the text alignment of your poems is important, specify on the Special Formatting Request Form what the alignment should be. If you are using different kinds of alignment, be sure you submit your manuscript in the final book margins and put on the Special Formatting Request Form to keep text alignment as is.

In addition to text alignment, there is also page alignment. In poetry books, the vertical alignment of the page is typically either top aligned or center aligned. In addition, you may wish the pages to be horizontally centered. Page alignment does not change your text alignment. For example, a poem with left-aligned text can still be vertically and horizontally centered on the page. You can leave the page alignment up to your design team, but if you have any preferences, just list them on the Special Formatting Request Form.

Table of Contents
Finally, if you would like a table of contents in your poetry book, the poems can be listed in alphabetical order or in the order they appear in the manuscript. If you have a preference for how your table of contents should be organized, include it on the Special Formatting Request Form.

If you have any questions or concerns about your poetry book’s design or formatting, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1.888.232.4444.

 




Prepare for Publication

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