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Book Printing: Which Book Shape is the Best Fit for your Project?

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Left to right: Portrait, Landscape, Square, Oversized, Mini
Prior to laying out the pages and cover of your book, you will have to decide on the physical proportions that best suit your specific project.

Fortunately, there are a variety of book orientations and formats to choose from, the most popular of which are discussed below…

Portrait -

A portrait orientation refers to a book that has a width dimension smaller than its height dimension. For example, books that measure 6" wide x 9" high or 8.5" wide x 11" high are common examples of the portrait orientation.

The portrait orientation offers a vertical shape, which is by far the most popular choice for printed book projects. Browse through any bookstore and you will see that the vast majority of books have a portrait orientation. The practical dimensions of this orientation allow books to display well on standard bookshelves.

Since the portrait orientation has such widespread use, it is the most cost-effective option for creating printed books. This is because most printing and binding equipment is geared toward producing books with a portrait orientation.

Landscape -

A landscape orientation refers to a book that has a width dimension larger than its height dimension. For example, books that measure 9" wide x 6" high or 11" wide x 8.5" high are examples of the landscape orientation.

The landscape orientation has a horizontal shape. A landscape format is not as common as the portrait format, but it is still fairly popular for a variety of projects. Because the landscape orientation provides more lateral space, it is good for presenting horizontally-shaped photography or artwork.

The landscape orientation is also a popular choice for children's story books. Whether spread across the lap or placed upon a table, the wider dimension makes it easier for an adult reader and child to view the book's content at the same time. The extended width also provides more space to grip the book and hold it open.

Square -

A square format occurs when the book's width dimension and the height dimension are equal. For example, books that measure 7" wide x 7" high or 8.5" wide x 8.5" high are examples of the square format.

The square shape is used less frequently than either the portrait or landscape orientation. However, being different from other books is what makes the square shape so noteworthy. It adds genuine uniqueness to a book project.

The benefit of a square book is that it offers balance. Since the width and height have the same dimension, there is no vertical or horizontal flow to the pages. Instead, a square book draws the reader's eye to the center of the page. For this reason, books containing mostly photographs are often made in the square format.

Oversized -

An oversized book simply means it has larger than normal dimensions. Any book beyond the standard 8.5" x 11" size is generally considered to be an oversized book. For example, a book measuring 14" wide x 18" high or 12" wide x 12" high would be considered an oversized book by most printers.

Larger images provide extra details and help yield a more stunning presentation. Hence, oversized books are often used for decorative or display purposes, such as a coffee table book.

Some books are designed as a larger physical size because it makes the book's content easier to use. For example, a travel atlas or a child's activity book are often made in a large format.

Mini -

As the name implies, mini books are quite small. For example, books that measure 3.5" wide x 5" high or 4" wide x 6" high are considered to be mini books. Also known as pocket-size books, mini books provide a compact and convenient way to share useful information.

Being light and portable, mini books are a popular choice for instructional handbooks, quick reference books, first aid manuals, travel guides, short stories, scripture or any other printed information people like to keep handy.

In addition, the mini format is frequently used for product manuals that need to fit within a small package. Also, because a mini book generally costs less than its larger counterpart, it is the ideal format for books used as promotional giveaways or books that have a limited life, such as theatre programs, event schedules, or pocket calendars.

Formax can create affordable books in just about any practical size or orientation. Give us a call at 866-367-6221 to discuss the various options for your upcoming book project. Or, if you already know your project's specs and would like a quote, click here to submit our easy quote form. As always, we look forward to working with you!

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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