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Choosing a book size

What trim size should I select for my book? This question comes up all the time.

How many words does your manuscript have? Let’s assume for planning purposes that the manuscript is regular text only (no bullet points, footnotes, etc.) and each book page will have 300 words.

(This number only a rough estimate! The actual number of words will vary with the page size, margins, typeface, font size, and leading [space between lines], and depending on whether new chapters are run-in [continue on the same page] or start on the next page or the next odd page.)

The numbers below include 10 pages for front matter; new chapters are run-in.

40,000-60,000 words 143-210 book pages
60,000-80,000 words 210-277 book pages
80,000-100,000 words 277-343 book pages

The printed book should be proportionately thick and tall. Books of 100 pages in a 6×9 trim size look skimply and feel flimsy. Books of 500 pages in a 5×8 trim size are a little thick and could be printed more economically with a larger trim size.

Below are some rough guidelines. Follow them with care and consider your particular situation. If you’re planning a series of books, look at the expected number of pages for each one individually. If the first book will be 650 pages and the third book will be 200 pages, a midrange size of 5.5×8.5 might be best.

40-250 pages 5×8 inches
200-600 pages 5.5×8.5 inches
300-800 pages 6×9 inches

About Sandra K. Williams

Sandra K. Williams loves books, both printed and digital. Since 1996 she has worked with authors and independent publishers, editing and designing books for print. Since 1999 she has built easy-to-use, accessible websites, and she uses her HTML and CSS skills to design reader-friendly e-books.

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