I have used TeX and friends for many years to produce academic documents: assignments, reports, journal articles, etc. As a hobby project, I am going to try something different by typesetting a book containing a short story.

Since most of my typographic experience is with figures, tables and equations, I am feeling underprepared for the task of creating a document that has nothing to do with any these elements.

I am looking for advice on how to prepare for this project given my narrow background in typesetting academic material. Some things I wonder about are:

  • What key design decisions should I be aware of when creating a book containing non-scientific material?

  • Are there any workflow recommendations that may help guide me from the raw text to a rough draft, to a finished product?


I would use a documentclass like memoir (or KOMA, but I personally prefer memoir) and XeLaTeX, which will give you a much wider range of fonts to use (basically any font installed on your system.)

The lettrine package can make nice dropped captials for beginnings of chapters.

Design decisions are also based on the kind of audience you envision for the book, and its content. Look at published books of the same type for ideas on how to lay things out.

  • 5
    Memoir is a good class, but it's often remarked that the memoir documentation has a lots of typographical wisdom in it, enough that it's worth reading even if you don't use the class. – Norman Gray Feb 9 '11 at 21:37

The first thing you need to establish is the rationale for writing the book and the audience you are addressing. You will encounter different problems if you are writing a children's story book to that of a non-fiction book describing the evolution of writing systems in the Fertile Crescent.

The best possible work-flow IMHO is after establishing your basic aims is to use one of the basic classes such as the KOMA class and start writing. Once you do that you will discover what presentational aspects of the book are required to be developed, as separate macros or even define your own class. You can then narrow down to font selection and book interior design.

  • Thanks for the answer! Do you know of any good reading or resources that touches on those areas (presentational aspects, font selection, interior design)? – Sharpie Feb 10 '11 at 18:48
  • @Sharpie I would suggest typophile.com/forums, you can pick up a lot of wisdom there. – Yiannis Lazarides Feb 11 '11 at 20:23

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