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Your proof

proof /pru:f/
• a trial impression of a page, used for making corrections before final printing.

• make a proof of (a printed work, engraving, etc.).
• proofread (a text).

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Heather O'Connell

Heather O’Connell has more than 20 years experience in the publishing industry and worked her way up from controller to senior management positions at Penguin and Harper Collins. She now runs Bluebird Consulting and also teaches Production both in-house and via the Publishing MA at UCL.

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Most people involved in writing or publishing are aware of the phrase “white space” and realise that the visual impact of a text, whether on page or screen, can have a huge effect on how the reader perceives the content. The problem is that “white space” isn’t a particularly simple concept and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

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One of the fundamental things you can do either as a designer, or someone creating your own materials, is to understand how to get the best out of combining texts and images. When you overlay text onto a photo different areas of light and dark can reduce legibility. So we asked Amy, one of our Design Managers, to share her top 5 tips for improving legibility of text on images.

1) Position the text in an empty or less busy part of the photo (known as copy space)

2) Think about changing the text colour to make it more visible (known as reverse-out, white-out, knock-out)

3) Use a drop shadow

4) Apply an area of blur

5) Apply a ’scrim’

Scrims are lightweight, semi-opaque layers, used to protect overlaid text. The term ‘scrim’ was used in Google’s recent materials design environment. It’s derived from the textile and theatre industries, where a scrim is a translucent fabric used in stage lighting. Scrims are particularly common in the digital environment, where space for photos and text can be at a premium (such as on hand held devices), and where content needs to be delivered in the blink of an eye.This post was originally published on the emc design blog.

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Subha Chelvam- Lewis, Freelance Designer & Consultant, working from her newly Hygge-ed front room in leafy Banstead.

1) How frequently do you use Photoshop/InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I started using InDesign when I did my Bachelors in Journalism for magazine layouts. It has come in handy ever since. I’ve used it as part of my Masters in Publishing at City University, for publicity internships, personal creative projects, and every day at my last full-time job as a Graphic Designer at a news agency. Today, I prefer to use it hand-in-hand with Photoshop and Illustrator too. It’s a great platform to work on for those of us that started off making lemonade with of Microsoft Publisher (throwback!).

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

Platforms like Lynda.com and Terry White tutorials are great. But I also find myself looking at design products differently now. I will look at a page layout or a book cover with a different eye and determine how it was juxtaposed and what I might do better. To me, it’s not all about using skill, but also refining taste

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

If you’re starting out, reverse colouring is an easy way to create something eye-catching. Our minds are used to black text on white backgrounds, so using lighter text over coloured backgrounds is a quick way to challenge the eye and amp up the design that little bit. Playing with text size and using dynamic text as shapes to fill a space is also a great way to show a flair for design.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

There is an endless plethora of my work on my website here:


5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use Photoshop/ InDesign?

Most of my design knowledge is self-taught. And mostly through practice and trial and error. Knowledge of the softwares is great, but if you focus your energy on experimenting with text, shapes and colours on one platform like InDesign, you can still get creatively-skilled results. It’s all about experimenting; and pushing what you can do with limited resources (think back to those Microsoft Publisher days!).

6) What do you use Photoshop/InDesign for mainly?

I prefer to use InDesign when possible now. I usually use Photoshop to create the backgrounds or illustrative elements of a project and InDesign to puzzle all the elements together. Illustrator is another tool that is great for vectors and infographics. My projects can be anything from book covers to online marketing banners, Instagram posts, infographics, posters, programs, editorial layouts, GIFs. You can even edit video with Photoshop now. I don’t think I’d go back to those MS Publisher days even if I could!

If you too would like to improve on how you use InDesign/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:

InDesign: http://bit.ly/2lD5yTw
Photoshop: http://bit.ly/2m4P8Ey

As a design agency always looking for new ways of being creative and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible within editorial design we’re constantly looking outside of our studio for inspiration. Myfonts.com to us isn’t just a place we go to to buy new fonts, it’s a wonderful resource of ideas, from matching typefaces to sparking off our creative juices. And so we wanted to give a shout out to the site and point you in their direction if you’re looking for interesting new fonts and typographic approaches to design.

One of the key features of the site that we particularly love are the different options each font is showcased in. It’s a great way of being able to try before you buy. We’ve taken a few screenshots, as examples, of a new font family ‘Frontage Condensed’ by Juri Zaech to give you an idea of what you can find. Gorgeous aren’t they! Don’t just take our word for it though, go and have a look and see what you think.

Frontage Condensed by Juri Zaech
Frontage Condensed by Juri Zaech
Frontage Condensed by Juri Zaech
Frontage Condensed by Juri Zaech

This post was originally published on the emc design blog.

Digital formats provide a wealth of opportunity to experiment with, and push the boundaries of, the traditional book. With much focus on what this can do to engage children in reading, here Jana Sukenikova takes a look at the origins of the interactive children’s book and why she used monsters as the topic of her most recent design project.

Monsters became very popular in this century, from Vampires to Werewolves to Dragons, Skeletons and many, many different kinds. When I was conducting research for my recent project, I was disappointed by the selection of books on the topic of monsters in the town library. Badly chosen fonts were fighting with weak and inappropriate illustrations, with everything looking ‘glued’ together rather than being well-designed. I passionately wanted to change this situation – by making a special monster book!

Book of Spooks and Jelly Monster
Book of Spooks and Jelly Monster

How monsters were born

This project was born from a coincidence when I was babysitting my little cousin. While we were draw­ing together I asked her “How do you imagine Monsters?“ I realised that her imagination of monsters is completely different to mine when I was her age. So I decided to put together a book, which will show adults and all children a completely new approach to a world of spooks.

I asked children in the local nursery school for help and the results were awesome! They produced around 100 illustrations to get started with and a third of these were bedsheet ghosts.

Skeleton by Simeon Vartik, and my illustration
Skeleton by Simeon Vartik, and my illustration

Make a toy from your book

Backgrounds, monsters and stories become a living, breathing thing by adding interactive elements. Interactive elements are the inspiration be­hind many of the books I found while researching. My Book is filled with pop-up monsters, stickers, monsters based on dress-up dolls, foils, mechanical parts, embossed illustrations, monsters base on coloring books etc.

POP-UP elements

Two dimensional objects are changed to 3D objects by folding paper mechanisms. These plastic models were used for the first time in the mid-19th century, when London publishing companies Dean & Son and Darton & Co added 3D parts into well known 2D scenes. Success came almost immediately. Pioneer of the best Pop Up books was the German illustrator and writer Lothar Meggendörfer (1847–1925) Some of his most famous books include Dolls House and Grand Cirque International.

Lothar Meggendörfer: Doll ?s House
Pop-Up HydraDragon from Books of Spooks
Pop-Up HydraDragon from Books of Spooks

Pieces of cardboard with interchangeable fashion costumes were popular in the rich classes for both men and women in Europe and America in the late 18th century.

The first manufactured paper doll was Little Fanny, produced by S & J Fuller in London 1810. Before Barbie doll was introduced to the world, paper dolls had a significant role in the lives of children.

Tom Tierney’s Paper Dolls
Depressive Monster from Book of Spooks

Moving Parts

In mid-1700 in France “Pantins” dolls were developed to rise against french upper class and royal courts. „Jumping Jacks“ figures were something between a marionette and Paper Doll and they were made to taunt society. Jack developed into a paper element in the books for children, where the base is an illustration and the body parts and head are movable with the help of rivets.

Vintage Jumping Jack
Vintage Jumping Jack
Hugging Monster from Book of Spooks
Hugging Monster from Book of Spooks

There are many ways to make a book more attractive and engaging for children or adults (both in print and digital). Just go to the library and have a look, you will find plenty of inspiration for your next print or digital project.


fanah shapeless janaJana Sukenikova aka Fanah Shapeless is a multi-disciplined graphic designer specialising in Book Design, Layout, Brand identity, Print and Digital Design, Boardgames, Illustrations. Check out more of her work here.

exact editionsHaving spent the past decade turning complex consumer magazines into their precise digital doppelgangers, Exact Editions launched their new digital books service in May. Here we interviewed Adam Hodgkin, Chairman and Co-Founder of Exact Editions

1) What exactly is Exact Editions?

Exact Editions is a platform for publishing and licensing content on the web and through apps to individuals and institutions. Exact Editions helps publishers by delivering services which generate subscriptions.

2) What problem does it solve?

Exact Editions 2The Exact Editions platform ensures that digital publications look exactly the same as their print sisters; and it does this in a way which is efficient for searching and sharing.

Exact Editions uses PDF files to build a database for each publication on the platform. The service delivers a solution that looks exactly like the book or magazine in print, but it is an access solution not a file delivery protocol. So the access management side of the business is at least as important as the content management side.

We also provide customer support and statistics to our users since cross-platform solutions for users that range in size from the largest universities to the private individual will, from time to time, present new questions.

3) Who is your target market?

Exact Editions 3Exact Editions launched by focusing on the consumer magazine space and selling subscriptions direct to consumers and through app stores. We were among the first magazine solutions to deliver apps for the iPhone and then for the iPad. Never neglecting our roots in the web.

In the last 5 years a growing sector for us is the university, college and library market. Also selling site licenses for corporates.

Exact Editions is unusual among digital magazine solutions in providing access to complete archives (we work with magazines that have archives that stretch back to the 19th century). A concern with archives leads us to support the librarians’ requirement for perpetual access.

4) What results do you hope to see over the next few years?

Exact EditionsOnce Exact Editions was selling some magazines for perpetual access, it was clear that there is demand for a similar service for books. The Exact Editions platform works well for book publishers that have complex and rich page designs that are poorly served by the most commonly used ebook file formats. But equally important the Exact Editions service offers publishers the opportunity to sell books with a perpetual access to institutions that need to have a multi-user, site license for the campus or organisation.

We launched our book service three weeks ago and it seems that the multi-user, site license access management that we provide for book publishers is an important offering. Book publishers also get to set the price level for their individual titles on the Exact Editions platform, and they have ownership of their subscriber lists.

5) What will be next for Exact Editions?

Exact Editions is a platform, not a publisher, so we are keen to work with as many publishers as can use our services. We are primarily aimed at the library and institutional market, at this point mainly universities and colleges, but we can already see that there is a good market among schools and corporates for many of the books and magazines which are using our platform. Opening up these broader markets is on our wish list. We also have some very successful French magazines and we would like to add books and magazines from all the major European languages.

Quantum 2018

Abbie Headon is BookMachine’s Commissioning Editor and runs Abbie Headon Publishing Services. She champions fresh approaches to solving the industry’s challenges and can be found mingling at most publishing events.

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Of course the cover is important – you don’t need me to tell you that, but I think the internal pages of a book are just as important. In this blog I’m going to advise about the internal design of books. There are plenty of designers, far better than me, who can advise on good cover design.

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For the trained eyes, there is nothing more annoying than looking at a book which is just one letter away from perfect. It is possible that you have made a capital mistake when not checking the rules of capitalization before publishing. It can be a tricky business, but nothing you cannot master by following a set of simple rules. In this article, we are writing about right capitalization and punctuation of titles (of your own books) on the cover and on the title page, with special regard to consistency.

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Experienced designer

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Annette Peppis, virtual team leader at Annette Peppis & Associates. Annette’s work was recently commended in the ‘Best Website’ category at the Richmond Business Awards.

1) How frequently do you use InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I use InDesign every day (and Photoshop/Illustrator occasionally). I switched over from using Quark XPress in 2004; I was freelancing pretty much full-time at BBC Books, and attended an in-house course on transitioning from Quark to InDesign. Almost immediately, I was hooked.

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

I am a Creative Cloud user, so have access to the latest updates. However, I only update occasionally as the latest versions often have bugs when they are first launched. I improve my skills by googling things that I don’t know how to do and then follow with tutorials. Adobe have quite a good Help section, but I often prefer to follow tutorials on YouTube.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

Always use style sheets. You will save yourself time, save your clients money, and make it easier for others to follow your styling. InDesign provides Paragraph style sheets (for overall formatting of typography), Character style sheets (to apply to individual characters or groups of words) and Object style sheets (so you can set the style of boxes, for example). If a global style change needs to be made, altering the style sheet will alter every instance within your document.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

You can see a selection of my design work in my Bookmachine portfolio:

https://bookmachine.org/people/annette/portfolio/ ,

or more examples of my work on my website’s publishing portfolio pages

http://graphic-designer-richmond.co.uk/portfolio/publishing/lifestyle/ .

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use InDesign?

If you are a beginner, go on a course. It really pays off in the long run. If you are a fairly accomplished user, lynda.com has some good tutorials or you could google problems as you encounter them and follow online tutorials.

6) What do you use InDesign for mainly?

Just about everything! In the past two months, I have used it for website banners and sliders, book covers and text pages, brochures, exhibition banners, packaging and logo design (though I switch to Illustrator to refine and finalise logos).

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:

InDesign: http://bit.ly/2lD5yTw
Photoshop: http://bit.ly/2m4P8Ey

What is book design like when you choose to self-publish your work? Mathias Lord of Hewer Text fills us in.

Book design is something readers appreciate but usually don’t notice. However, if you are a self-publisher, it is crucial to know about book design. What is it, and what are the main differences between book design in traditional publishing and self-publishing?

What is book design?

Today the term usually refers to both cover design and typesetting. In short, the former consists of everything on the outside of the book; the latter everything between the covers.

Seen from a marketing perspective, cover design is supposed to grab your attention, whilst typesetting is meant to be invisible, insofar as it allows the text to communicate clearly and without interruption.

Cover design involves creating the picture or illustration, the word art (title, author name etc), and placing various other information (like quotes and blurbs). It’s the initial pitch that makes the casual browser open or buy a book.

Typesetting is less artistic but more complex. It deals with everything from the broader layout and presentation to specifics such as fonts and line spacing. This is all about making the text flow, look professional and comply with industry standards. There are many formatting rules and details in publishing, and self-publishers will benefit from understanding them.

Readers and writers often think they can do typesetting themselves, but it is a bit like saying that because you’ve ordered the same drink hundreds of times, you can recreate it yourself. (If you do, it may not taste very good!).

Traditional VS Self-Publishing

1) Control

So how do these processes differ in self-publishing? In essence, the author has more control. The execution is similar, the quality exactly the same, but it’s the author who calls the shots.

It usually happens like this:

The designer and typesetter are given a brief by the author, either specifying what they desire or simply throwing a few ideas and images at them (like which books they like and want theirs to emulate).

Once they have a draft, the author receives this and gives feedback. The number of editing sessions varies, depending on how specific the author has been, and how much they are willing to spend on the services.

2) Time

Self-publishing is fast. You can have a draft illustration within weeks, and the feedback and edits can be completed quickly and directly.

Why is it so fast?

Think of it like this: when a traditional publisher commissions a designer or typesetter, the drafts have to be run by several departments, who all have multiple book projects to juggle, and differing opinions about how the book should look. This interdepartmental coordination is time-consuming and often side-steps the author. In self-publishing, however, the author is the boss and the customer.

3) Challenges

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Although this control is mostly positive, it does come with challenges. The author cannot just sit back and enjoy the ride. They need to stay focused. Neither should they try to dictate every minuscule aspect of the book. This will delay the entire project and does not usually result in a better product.

Because there is so much to coordinate and finish before the book is published, it is wise to make a time schedule and stick to it. Limiting the amount of feedback and editing sessions with the designers will save authors a lot of time and money without reducing the quality of the end product. Ask yourself: is this important? Can it wait and be delivered with other feedback?

Bottom line?

Don’t try to bite over too much. As a self-publishing author, you have control but also responsibility. Writers should go into the self-publishing process with a plan but also an open mind. Designers and typesetters are patient, helpful and professional but work much better with an organised author.

Mathias is the self-publishing director at Hewer Text (HT-Publishing). He is in charge of coordinating self-publishing projects and consulting with authors. Follow him at @hewertext or contact him at mathias@hewertext.com.


This is an excerpt from Nigel French’s book ‘InDesign Type: Professional Typography with Adobe InDesign’. These principles apply to all versions of InDesign and any page layout software.

Determining Margins


Margins often aren’t given enough consideration. It’s easy to fall back on even margins of half an inch, but in doing so you miss an opportunity to establish the margins as an integral design element of your document. Look at any page and you’ll notice that margins are the first space you see: They are vital in determining the reader’s initial impression of the page. Margins serve the following functions:

  • Margins separate the content from the edge of the page, framing and defining the type area of the page. If you’ve ever done any picture mounting you’ll appreciate how much a good mount can increase a picture’s impact.
  • Obviously, but quite profoundly, margins are where you hold the book or page — they are a place for readers to put their thumbs, hopefully without obscuring the content on the page.
  • Historically, margins have been used as a space to write notes (wide outside margins are still referred to as scholars’ margins), and in certain types of publication they continue to serve this function.

Margins are also a place to put the page numbers (known as folios) and publication information, in either the top or bottom margins of the page, outside of the type area.

While margins define the type area, they are not absolute. Certain text elements, like drop caps, pull quotes, and captions, may hang outside the type area and into the margins — as will punctuation if you are using Optical Margin Alignment. Pictures frequently break out of the type area, disrupting the rectilinear nature of the page and — potentially — making for a more dynamic layout.


Making all the margins the same for facing-pages documents can look static. When two pages are adjacent — such as in a magazine or book — they share an inside margin broken only by the spine.  This double margin means the spread will be perceived as a single image with a middle margin.

Margins typically progress from smallest to largest in the following order: inside, top, outside, bottom. There are no cast-iron rules, but a popular ratio for determining margins is 1:1.5:2:2.25.  is produces margins that are generous yet look familiar to a 21st-century eye.


Setting Up Columns

The type area can be subdivided into columns. In setting up your columns, be sure that the text frames that will contain your body text are wide enough, either as a single column or in multiples, for the text to be readable. The relationship between type size and text frame width is the column measure.There’s no cast-iron rule for the size of column measure. Some jobs lend themselves to generous columns; often economy dictates narrower columns than are optimal.

  • As a rough guide, aim for 45 to 70 characters (including the spaces) per line. That’s a big range, so there’s plenty of scope. Another commonly used standard is a minimum of six words per line; another still is to use two alphabets, or 52 characters.
  • If the measure is too wide and you have too many characters on your line, “doubling” can occur — the eye returns to the left column edge only to read the same line again. If you’re obligated to work with such a measure, you can improve its readability by increasing the leading of your type. If your measure is too narrow — especially if you’re working with justified type — getting evenly spaced type will be next to impossible.
  • To change the number of columns for all the pages based on a specific master page, you should edit the master page itself.


Determining Gutter Width

In multicolumn documents, the separate columns of type should appear parts of a unified whole. If the space between the columns (the gutter) is too wide, those columns will look like they bear no relation to each other. If the gutter is too narrow, though, the reader’s eye may mistakenly cross over from one column to the next.

Gutter widths should relate to the body text leading value. To achieve uniform spacing, set your gutters to the same value as, or a multiple of (1.5 or 2, for example), the leading of the text. The wider the column, the bigger the gutter.

Nigel French is a graphic designer, author, artist, and trainer based in Lewes, East Sussex, UK. He is author of InDesign Type: Professional Typography with Adobe InDesign, published in its third edition by Adobe Press, and more than fifty titles in the Lynda.com library. He also writes an occasional type-related column for InDesign Magazine. His website is nigelfrench.com—one of these days he’ll update it.


“I love fonts!” We hear it all the time. It’s common for creative professionals to obsess over their tools, and fonts are critical to any project that includes text.

At Extensis, we are font nerds ourselves, and I wear mine with a badge of honor.

Having worked with creative professionals for over 14 years, I love probing and discovering what creative pros are thinking. What do they love? What do they hate? What’s currently hot and what’s not…? So I decided to do something about it and surveyed them! It’s worth a read. Trust us.

More than 1,900 people responded, 57% were graphic designers by trade and most have been in their respective careers for over 25 years. If we wanted to find out which type styles are trending right now, where designers go to find new fonts and where all of this is headed, we sure got a good sample.

Most loved and most hated fonts

If you’ve been following recent design at all, it’s not surprising to discover that Slab Serifs came out on top as one of the most loved styles (30%).

On the other hand, Art Nouveau styles don’t seem to share the same enthusiasm, listed as the least favourite font style and registering the higher overall negative feeling among respondent (52%).

font 1 font 2

Free-flowing thoughts

It’s interesting to notice that professionals can have disparate reactions to the same typeface. Some expressed their unconditional love:

“These are great, and I have a feeling they will move into the field of classic fonts.”

Comment on: Museo Slab, by Jos Buivenga of exljbris

While others, absolute feelings of hate:

“Oh PLEASE destroy all of these. I cannot wait for the chalkboard phase to be over. It’s so overused and it’s rarely done well.”

Comment on: Chalkboard typefaces

Overall, each style will work differently for everyone, and will be dependent on the project at hand. And, whether you love them, hate them, aren’t so sure or “think it might work in some situations”, fonts “are to the designer as paints to the painter” (as I like to say).

Check out the entire breadth of research by downloading the report here. Share your font love, type hate, or general design obsessions below. We’d love to hear it.

JIM_7208_5xAs a writer, speaker and general software nerd, Jim Kidwell evangelizes the effective integration of fonts and digital asset management in creative workflows. Focusing on how effective management can affect all levels of an organization – from the legal, creative and branding standpoints – Jim has shared his unique perspective with audiences at SXSW, Future of Web Design, WebVisions and more.

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