A day in the life of a book designer

Hello! We’re Abi and Katie from emc design and we’d like to tell you about a typical day here at work! Abi has been at emc for over three years and is now a Middleweight designer. Katie has just celebrated her one year anniversary as Junior designer. We celebrated with party rings that day! Together we are part of Duncan’s Digital Design Team.

Abi em2

8.00am – 8.15am – As most of us live in the local town of Bedford, we often share lifts into work to save petrol and the environment! It’s good that we all get along which always makes for a happy working atmosphere! The location of our studio is in the scenic village of Oakley, which makes the rush hour commute ideal as the traffic is always travelling in the opposite direction. We’ve been getting some pretty spectacular views recently.

EMC Design

8.15am – Do the first tea and coffee round and check to see if emails have come through overnight!

8.30am – In the morning we have team huddles and discuss the jobs that are being sent out that day and assign jobs to each member of the team. These can include: creation of sample design, proof stage correction work, cover designing, typestyling, realia design, artwork and image placement for the many different jobs we work on for our various publishing clients.

8.40am – The initial stage of a project begins with creating a sample design and having conversations with a client determining how they’d like their book to look, bouncing back and forth ideas and concepts in order to give them what they want. Once this has been finalised and they are satisfied with the sample design produced, we receive the full manuscript for the new book from the editors. We import this text into InDesign ready for typestyling and page layout following the agreed sample design.

11.22am – team biscuits (this is a drawer of biscuits (Katie has just learnt that drawer is spelt drawer not draw)) – our team is partial to shhhnacks (a secret guilt free snack).


11.28am – Duncan realises that four biscuits was not quite enough and comes back for six more. On special days, such as work anniversaries and actual birthdays, we have cake! You may have heard about some of our bake-off competitions, we take cake pretty seriously!

12.30pm – At each stage of a project, our work is checked thoroughly by our magical proof checking pixies, who ensure that our work is precise, correct and ready to send through to our clients in immaculate condition.

In the emc studio, we have two rooms, Designers in one room and the Creative Services team in the other. As designers we work closely with the Creative Services team who oversee the artwork commissioning, photo research and proof checking stages of all jobs. It’s nice to be able to pop round the corner to deliver a job to be checked or discuss an artwork brief in person.

1.00pm – LUNCH! Some like to sit at their desks to eat, however we much prefer to go and sit in the kitchen and have a natter with anyone who’d like to join us. When the weather is nice, we sometimes go out and venture into the idyllic country scenes of Oakley to get some fresh air and clear our heads for the busy working afternoon ahead. The change of scenery is often good if you are feeling a bit bogged down with the heavy workload.

EMC Design

2.00pm – Lunch break ends and a member of the team is designated to make a round of drinks! (We make rounds of tea & coffee within our teams of 4-6 designers, so as to avoid one person making 26 cups of tea at any one time)


2.15pm – All our jobs go through a number of proof stages after the initial creation of a book, which allow for editorial changes to be made, artwork to be drawn and realia created. A large percentage of our daily tasks revolve around this middle stage of design work filling up our afternoon and ensure the book is as accurate as possible.

Keeping organised is a key part of our job, so throughout the day, our team reminders schedule pop up on our screens so that we remember the most urgent jobs for that particular day and we work hard as a team to get everything done. Team work makes the dream work after all! We also have a series of checklists that we go through for each stage of the job. Each project in the studio has a job bag to make sure everything is super organised and we’ve got everything covered.

EMC Design

5.30pm – We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a little snippet of a typical day here at emc design. With lots of projects going through the studio at the same time there’s always variety in what we do and the chance to learn something new too. After a busy afternoon of designing and emailing clients it’s time to go home for a well earned break! We sometimes organise ‘work socials’ as a way to bond over good GIN and good food. Our last one was in celebration of Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday where we got to eat more cake!