Booklet Design

What is a booklet?

There are loads of different purposes for using a booklet. You might be issuing an informational newsletter about your company’s achievements in last financial year, or you might want to have a product catalogue to send to the most loyal clients. You might want to have a portfolio selection sporting those “the best of” you are so proud of, or maybe a family picture album with no less amount of pride in it. Are you a professional publisher issuing large volumes of posh magazines and hard cover books every month, or are you a self educated writer considering publishing your first novel using print on demand services. There are lots of different uses for a booklet and we are going to talk about that in detail later on, but there is the main common property for all the kinds – that is you have a lot of information to deliver and that needs a nicely created and assembled product.


Booklet structure

Although a regular magazine, catalogue or promotional booklet structure isn’t as strict and complicated as conventional hardcover multipage book, but it still follows similar pattern regarding main structural elements. Acknowledging and understanding this pattern makes much easier to manage information and deliver it conveniently to the reader.

Booklet cover

A cover is arguably the most important part of your booklet, it’s the first thing your potential reader sees and it might be the last if it doesn’t catch his attention to go on and check what’s inside. A booklet cover has four pages, which are called front outside, front inside, back inside and back outside covers. Some thick booklets and books also have a spine, which is the part you see then looking at a book stored in bookshelf. Then designing a booklet cover it’s very important to remember its main function – to get readers’ attention. That is, you have to show what this booklet is about and why a person, seeing it, definitely have to read it. So, obviously, a booklet title goes on the cover and maybe a small description of what’s inside, which could probably better go on the back cover, as front cover space might rather be used to put some attention grabbing picture. Space on inside cover could be used for anything from advertisement (usual practice for magazines) to just leaving it blank, especially for thicker booklets and books. Obviously these are very rough recommendations and every case should be discussed in detail separately. One thing to consider – even if you are producing a very simple booklet with black and white inside pages – splash out please on cover and make it in colour. Also covers usually are made of thicker stock than inside pages, sometimes even laminated. As they not only have to grab readers’ attention but also protect thinner and more vulnerable inside pages from wear and tear. Very nice effect can be achieved UV varnishing your booklet cover, which makes some parts (like a logo, picture or graphic shapes) look shiny.

Page numbering, table of contents and index

Numbering the pages not only has a practical function, but it also can be used to create a nice design pattern throughout the whole booklet, which gives a sense of consistency and solidity. Usually numbering starts on first inner page thus leaving left page of the spread for even numbers and right page for odd ones. It doesn’t matter which part of the page is used for page numbers so long as it is clearly separated from the main text. Sometimes it’s worth putting the title of the section of a booklet or the booklet title and addition number, date (for magazines) next to page number as it might be convenient for the reader. Table of contents usually goes in the beginning; let’s say first inner page or even front inside cover if you are tight on space. Table of contents usually is put at the end of designing a booklet, after layout of information on inner pages is approved.

Index is something used not only in thick scientific literature with lots of specific terms. It could come in very handy in your product catalogue too. Let’s say you are a retailer and you have a catalogue in which products are listed in the same way as they are stored in your brick and mortar store; that is by the categories of use (clothing, electrical, food). And if you put the alphabetical index of all the products at the end of your catalogue, directing reader to page numbers, it might be much easier to find the specific product they are looking for.

Booklet inner pages

Then compiling information and designing a booklet the main thing to remember is that the amount of inner pages has to divide by four. Therefore the total amount of pages has to be a number like 20, 24 or 28, but not like 22, 23 or 26. That is because of the nature of binding a booklet. It is easiest to understand if you think about the cover, it has four pages – front outside and inside and back outside and inside. So in the same manner every other sheet of paper in your booklet has the same four pages. It is good to understand this feature of booklet binding as that could save you some pennies then printing some pages in colour (let’s say with pictures) and some in black and white. These pages have to go in something called printers’ pairs, rather than readers’ pairs, so you have to consult your printer for more details.

The two pages which you see in an opened booklet are called a spread. The first spread consists of front inside cover and first inner page, the last spread is made of last inner page and back inside cover. Very nice effects can be achieved then designing booklet in spreads, like the symmetrical features of putting odd page numbers on left side of the page and even numbers on right side. Or, let’s say, if you are designing a product catalogue you could put product descriptions on left side and product pictures on right side.