Book Printing Lingo: What are the Margins of a Book?

This diagram of an open book illustrates the concept of page margins
This diagram of an open book illustrates the concept of page margins
The Margins of a book refer to the blank spaces that surround the printed content of each page. Each page in the book will have a top margin, a bottom margin, an inner margin and an outer margin.

Also known as "white space", the margins of a book serve several important functions:

Enhances Aesthetics

Margins help center the content on the page and make it more visually appealing. They also help separate and balance the content of facing pages.

Improves Readability

the blank margins provide contrast to the printed words and images on the page. This provides a frame to the content, which helps the eyes focus better and allows for easier reading.

Allows a Place to Hold the Book Open

the margins allow a convenient place for the reader to hold the book open. Without ample margins, the hand(s) holding the book would block some of the printed content while it was being read.

Provides an Area upon which to Write

if the reader wishes to make any notes or comments in the book, the margins provide the blank space necessary to write.

Creates a Buffer Zone during the Manufacturing Process

in most cases, a book's pages are gathered and trimmed while it is being constructed. The margins act as a safety zone between the content and the edge of the page, so there is no risk of anything important being trimmed off.

Don't Skimp on the Margins-�

When designing a book, it is important not to skimp on the size of the margins. Extremely narrow margins will allow you to fit more content per page, but the resulting book will not be attractive. Narrow margins also increase the risk that some of the page content may get trimmed off during the manufacturing process.

If you are producing a perfectly bound book or a hardcover book, you also want to make sure that the inner margins are not too narrow at the gutter. The gutter is the channel formed by the inner margins of two facing pages when the book is opened. You want some extra margin width at the gutter to help "push" the content out from the spine, otherwise some content may get buried too deep into the spine and be hard to read.

Similarly, if you are planning to produce a coil bound book, you'll want to make sure that the inner margins are ample enough to accommodate the holes drilled for the coil. Otherwise you risk having some of the holes bored through, or uncomfortably close to, the page content.

Formax specializes in softcover book printing. Whether you need perfect bound books, coil bound books or saddle stitched books, Formax can help produce your book. We'll be happy to explain all your options as well as share some money-saving ideas with you. Give us a call at 866-367-6221 to discuss your upcoming book project.

Take care! Rick

About the Author

Rick Stallings 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 and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Rick is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221 or by submitting our easy quote request form. Rick and the Formax team have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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