Basic Book Design/Number of Pages

Keep Out Of Trouble RulesEdit

  1. For books printed on offset presses, total pages must be multiples of 8, 16, or 32, (e.g., 224 pages, not 220 pages). Ask your printer if you save money by using a multiple of 32.
  2. For documents printed on laser printers (including Xerox Docutech printers), any number of pages is possible.
  3. Minimize front and back matter, e.g., titles pages. Don't include items such as half-title pages unless you know the right way to design them.
  4. Ask your printer to use recycled paper and soy-based ink.

Traditional RulesEdit

See the Chicago Manual of Style (1.4-58, 1.82-91) to design the front and back matter pages.


Offset presses print books in signatures of eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages. E.g., a book can be 224 pages, but not 220 pages. Ask your printer what their presses do.

It may be cheaper to print a 224-page book instead of a 216-page book. 224 pages is seven thirty-two-page signatures (a signature is a set of pages printed together). 216 pages is eight signatures: six thirty-two-page signatures, one sixteen-page signature, and one eight-page signature. I.e., the printing press needs to be set up only seven times for a 224-page book, but has to be set up eight times for a 216-page book. Each set-up costs money.

Xerox Docutech printers (used for small runs of under 500 books) don't print in signatures, so can print any number of pages.

Front and Back PagesEdit

The edition notice (or copyright page) is the page in a book containing information about the current edition, usually on the back of the title page. It often contains a copyright notice, legal notices, publication information, printing history, cataloguing information from a national library, and an ISBN that uniquely identifies the work.

A table of contents, usually headed simply Contents and abbreviated informally as TOC, is a list, usually found on a page before the start of a written work, of its chapter or section titles or brief descriptions with their commencing page numbers.

A dedication page may found at the beginning, before the story starts, and it is a space for the author to dedicate the book to someone. The dedication normally isn't long, sometimes only a sentence or two, and is a sweet, heartfelt way to honor someone in the life of the author.

A foreword is a (usually short) piece of writing sometimes placed at the beginning of a book or other piece of literature. Typically written by someone other than the primary author of the work, it often tells of some interaction between the writer of the foreword and the book's primary author or the story the book tells. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended (appearing before an older foreword if there was one), which might explain in what respects that edition differs from previous ones.

A praise page includes endorsements for the book. Endorsements help the author to increase sales for the book and are an important aspect of the book marketing strategy.

An acknowledgment page includes the author’s statement of gratitude to family, friends, and often those who assisted in the publication of the book.

An index is an alphabetical list of subjects treated in a book. It usually appears at the end of the book and identifies page numbers on which information about each subject appears.

Environmental IssuesEdit

Ask your printer to use recycled paper and soy ink. Some printers will do this for no extra cost. Put the recycled logo on your back cover or title page. You could also ask for FSC-certified paper.