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InDesign Basics: Creating a Book

tutorials , , , InDesign Basics: Creating a Book

In this Bitesize tutorial, you will learn how to create a basic Book Template in InDesign.

  • How to set suitable Page Sizes and Margins for Paperback and Hardback books
  • How to create simple Master Pages for maintaining consistency throughout your book
  • How to define Page Numbering Sections
  • This tutorial covers how to create the inside pages of a book. Check back soon for a Book Cover Template tutorial.

Step 1: Creating a Book File

First things first – how does InDesign help you to create a book? Before you go to create a New Document in InDesign, you should know that InDesign offers you a really useful feature for creating long book documents – these are called Book Files.

A Book File is a collection of documents grouped together to form a whole book. You can share Styles across the documents within the Book and the Numbering Sequence will continue from one document to the next. You can also make edits to your book more quickly and easily when you work from a Book File. Instead of opening a single large file with a high number of pages, you can simply bring up the section or chapter you would like to edit.

Note: In this tutorial we are creating a book for print. For producing digital and eBooks, check back soon for more tutorials.

Let’s start by creating our own Book File. Open InDesign. From the Welcome Window, select Book from the Create New list. You can also go to File > New > Book. You’ll be prompted to give the Book a Name and to Save it. Find a suitable name and location, then click OK.

book file welcome window

book file


A small window will appear, which is currently empty. You’ll notice when you click the + icon that InDesign wants you to add an existing InDesign document to the Book.

book file

The next step is to create your first Chapter or Section, which we’ll then add to the Book File…

Step 2: Creating your first Document

First, decide how your book will be divided up. If it’s a long book, you may have split the text into Chapters. If it’s very long, you may have Sections, with Chapters sitting within them.

Your first task is to create a document which will feature the formatting Styles you will be using across the whole book. A good place to start is with the first chapter of your book. Save your introductory pages to do afterwards, as they will have some unique formatting atypical to the chapters in the book.

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For a Standard Paperback:

(United States ‘B’ Format – 130mm x 198mm [5.12″ x 7.8″]).

Go to File > New Document to open the New Document Window.  Ensure the Intent is set to Print. Set the No. of Pages to 10 (you may know the number of pages your text will probably fill, but you can easily add or delete extra pages as you go) and keep Facing Pages checked.

Next up, set the Print Size by selecting Custom… from the drop-down menu. In the Custom Page Size window type a Name for your custom page size, such as B – Paperback. Set the Width to 130 mm and the Height to 198 mm, click Add to save it to the custom list (this means you can reuse this Size template for future documents by simply selecting it from the Custom menu), and then OK.

book file page size


Back in the New Document window, we can set the Margins and the Bleed (to find out more about the basics of creating New Documents, click here).

If you look at an example of a Paperback book, you’ll notice that the Inside Margin (i.e. the margin which sits against the bind of the book) will be a little more generous than the Outside Margin. This is to allow for a few millimeters of the page to be sucked into the binding and the fold created by the binding. For a glue-bound (otherwise know as ‘perfect bound’) Paperback, whatever the page size, allow an extra 3 mm on the Inside Margin.

Set the Margins to: Top 15 mm, Bottom 20 mm, Inside 18 mm, Outside 15 mm.

Include a Bleed if you will have any pages in the book with content that will cross the edge of the page (e.g. colored pages, or images that extend across the edge of the page). If you’re producing a standard typeset paperback on white paper, you might not need one.

Set the Bleed to: Top 5 mm, Bottom 5 mm, Inside 0 mm, Outside 5 mm. You won’t need a Bleed on the Inside edge. And click OK.

book file new document

paperback page

For a Standard Hardback:

Hardcover sizes vary widely, the dimensions stated here are common for printing hardcover novels.

Go to File > New Document to open the New Document Window.  Ensure the Intent is set to Print. Set the No. of Pages to 10 and keep Facing Pages checked.

Next up, set the Print Size by selecting Custom… from the drop-down menu. In the Custom Page Size window type a Name for your custom page size, such as Hardback Novel. Set the Width to 151 mm and the Height to 233 mm, click Add to save it to the custom list, and then OK.

hardback book custom page size


In the New Document window, let’s set the Margins and the Bleed.

If you look at an example of a Hardback book, you’ll notice that the Inside Margin will be more generous than the Outside Margin, even more so than a Paperback if the hardback has Stitch Binding. For a glue-bound (perfect bound) Hardback, whatever the page size, allow an extra 5 mm on the Inside Margin. For a stitch-bound hardback, you may need a little extra added to the Inside Margin; check with your printer before you set up your document.

Set the Margins to: Top 23 mm, Bottom 25 mm, Inside 25 mm, Outside 20 mm.

Include a Bleed if you will have any pages in the book with content that will cross the edge of the page (e.g. colored pages, or images that extend across the edge of the page). If you’re producing a standard typeset hardback on white paper, you might not need one.

Set the Bleed to: Top 5 mm, Bottom 5 mm, Inside 0 mm, Outside 5 mm. You won’t need a Bleed on the Inside edge. Click OK.

hardback new document

hardback page

Step 3: Creating a simple set of Master Pages for your book

Now you have set up the first document for your book, you should create a set of Master Pages to carry common features (such as page numbers and page headers) across all the pages. Here we’ll be working using the Paperback document we set up earlier, in Step 2, but you can follow the same steps for a Hardback as well.

Open the Pages Panel by going to Window > Pages in the top menu bar. You’ll notice at the top of the Pages Panel there is a marked-off section, with a default Master spread, A-Master. Double-click on the double-page icon on the right-hand side of the Panel to bring up the A-Master on screen.

pages panel

Now click in the top-right corner of the Pages Panel, to bring up a drop-down menu. Select Master Options for A-Master… to open an options window for the Master. Rename the Master as Start of Chapter – Master and click OK.

master optionsThis will be the Master spread applied to all pages which begin a chapter, i.e. the text will start halfway down the page and there will be a prominent chapter title.

We will also need to create a second Master spread, for applying to all pages in the body of chapters, i.e. simple text-filled pages with page numbers and a running header at the top of each page. To do this, click once again in the top-right of the Pages Panel to open the drop-down menu. Select New Master…

master menu

In the New Master window that appears, set the Prefix to B and name the Master BodyMaster. Click OK.

master options

Now you can edit the Masters and then apply them to the relevant pages.

On the Start of Chapter – Master you can insert page numbers at the bottom of each page. Create a text frame using the Type Tool (T) and stretch it centrally across the margins of the left-hand page. Set your desired Font (here I’ve used Fournier Std), Size and a Centered Orientation (using the options available to you in the Character Formatting Panel). Then go to Type > Insert Special Characters > Markers > Current Page Number to drop in a flexible page number glyph. This will appear as A on the Master but will adapt to the given page number on the pages themselves.

TIP: You can also flank the page number with decorative glyphs (Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs to view the full selection available to you in your chosen font) to add an extra flourish.

With your page number text frame selected, go to Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste to create a second page number frame. Manouver this into a mirrored position on the right-hand page.

master chapter title

You may also want to mark out where you would like the Chapter Titles to sit on the page. You can pull down Guides from the top Ruler (View > Show Rulers) onto the Master to mark where a text frame should sit. This makes it extra easy to ensure you’re always placing chapter titles in the same place each time:

paperback pageTo apply the Start of Chapter – Master to the first page in your document, simply click and drag the right-hand page of the Master icon in the Pages Panel, dropping it on top of the Page 1 icon in the section of the panel below.

Once you’ve done that, return to the Start of ChapterMaster and select both the page number text frames at the bottom of the page. Edit > Copy and double-click the BodyMaster in the Pages Panel to bring up your second Master, then simply Edit > Paste in Place to drop the page number frames onto the Master.

You may want to insert Running Headers along the top of your pages too. To do this, remain on the Start of Chapter – Master and introduce two new text frames using the Type Tool (T). Place these, with matching formatting to your page numbers, at the top of the left and right pages of the Master, as shown below. You can type the name of the book in the left frame, and the chapter number in the right frame.

master body pages

To apply this Master to the remaining 9 pages in your document, you can either manually drag and drop the Master icon onto pages in the Pages Panel, or click in the top-right of the panel to open the drop-down menu, select Apply Master to Pages… and type in the page range you would like the Master to be applied to.

Step 4: A Brief Note on Numbering and Sections

You may want a very simple numbering arrangement for your book – the first page of the book will be Page 1 and so on. But you may want to have Sections, each with their own numbering system. A common example of this is a book with the introductory pages listed in Roman Numerals, with Page 1 only beginning from the first page of the first chapter.

We’ll set up an example here with our paperback document. Say we wanted to start a new section on Page 5 of the document, and number the first four pages in Roman Numerals…

In the Pages Panel, click the Page 1 icon to select it, then click on the right-hand corner of the panel to bring up the drop-down menu. Select Numbering & Section Options… to open a new window. Check the Start Page Numbering at: box, keeping the value as 1. Next to Style, pick i, ii, iii, iv… from the drop-down menu. Then click OK. The whole document has been renumbered in Roman Numerals.

numbering and sections

Now click on the Page 5 icon in the Pages Panel. Again, bring up the Numbering & Section Options… window, and again check the Start Page Numbering at: box, keeping the value, as before, as 1. This time, for Style, select the 1, 2, 3, 4… option and click OK.

And there you have it! An easy way of creating new sections. Simply repeat the process above to create more new sections throughout your book.

numbering and sections

numbering and sections

Step 5: Adding Documents to your Book File

Now you’ve created your first Chapter in your book, you can add this to your Book File (see Step 1).

If the Book File isn’t already open, go to File > Open and navigate to the folder where it is saved. Open as you would a normal document file. Click the + icon in the window that appears; you will be prompted to navigate to an InDesign document. First, ensure you have saved your document with a suitable name, such as Chapter One. Then navigate to the document as prompted and click Open.

book file

You’ve created a simple book template in hardly any time at all! Well done!

Now you can add more documents to your Book File (you don’t need to complete each document before you add it, just set it to the same size and Copy and Paste the Masters across to each new document).