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Page sizes

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What's the best page size for your book?

You might think that the bigger the page, the more words you can fit onto it. The bigger the pages, the thinner the book, so the less it costs to produce.

The truth is rather different. An analysis of 50 books covering the various standard book sizes, shows that the size of the page has only a small influence on a book's final page count.

If you compare the surface area of the different print formats, the space on the smaller formats is less than half that of an A4 page. So you ought to have over a third more printable space on a Royal size page compared to the standard paperback (also known a B format). However, that is not reflected in the number of words inside each of the real books in the sample.

Format Percentage compared to A4 sheet
198x129 Standard paperback 41%
216x140 Large paperback 48%
229x152 Popular academic size 56%
235x156 Royal 59%

Books sampled included some with tightly packed text, others that were lavishly illustrated, as well as large print books for children and those with poor eyesight. A small change in the font size or the space between the lines (known as leading) can make a surprising difference to the number of words set on each page. 

So the book format you choose has less effect on the number of pages than you might suspect. It is the font size, page layout and number of illustrations that dictate the number of pages needed. With fiction a standard paperback format can pack the words in while an illustrated text needs the larger page size to achieve a legible design.

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