Why I Print Book Manuscripts Before Formatting Them

I always encourage my clients to print their formatted books after they receive them from me. I tell them that they’ll catch more errors if they look at their books in print. But what I don’t mention to my clients is that I often print copies of their manuscripts at various stages in the design and layout process, too.

In fact, I often print a copy of their unformatted manuscripts for myself. This is a step many book interior layout designers might skip, but I’ll tell you why I think it’s important. It’s for the same reason that I ask my clients to print their formatted manuscripts: I catch more formatting errors if I look at the unformatted manuscript next to the formatted book. Printing the book manuscript improves the quality of my final product.

Most of the books that I format are non-fiction, and they have a lot of different formatting details to watch for: not just italics or bold but also images, tables, captions, superscript, footnotes or endnotes. I find that printing out the manuscript helps me to double-check my formatting and be sure I haven’t missed anything important.

Here’s a recent memoir manuscript that I printed out to compare to the formatted book on screen. (I printed it on the back of some papers I had which had been printed on only one side.)

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When I am setting up the first few sample page designs, I print those out as well, to test the typeface style, weight, size and to check the line spacing and margins. Sometimes I also print out the formatted book in full, to check it over again.

Of course, I’m a print designer, I like printing things out. But there’s more to it than that — I believe that when I review your book on paper at various stages in the interior layout and design process, it gives you a better book! This extra attention to quality is, I hope, one of the things that sets me apart from other book interior layout designers.

In case you’re wondering, whenever possible I print on both sides of the paper. I always recycle the printed manuscripts when the project is complete and another happy client is sending his or her book off for production!

As an aside, here’s a peek at how this memoir looked before formatting:

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And here’s how it looked after:

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My client told me that he caught problems that he had not noticed before when he read his manuscript once more in the final format. Together, we made a memoir that will be treasured by his family and friends!


A bit of attention to detail goes a long way in creating a book you can be proud of! If you’d like my help with your book project, or just want to ask me a question shoot me a message or book a free Skype consultation with me!