I am planning to study about book design. The final object is that given a book I can write a latex book template to achieve the same style. Could you recommend me some books or website to learn this kind of knowledge? What I have learned is through the book "LaTeX beginner's guide".

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    Wow the book design is a very exciting topic. I can think about many books and suggestions to make, but I don't know how much you know about this. Also I do not know what is your language, or what is the book culture in your country. That's important because many decisions about design books depend to some extent on the local or national publishing tradition. I know about few sites and books in Spanish, but surelly you need something in English or another language. Tell us a little bit more please.
    – Aradnix
    Dec 26, 2013 at 5:17
  • +Aradnix What I want to learn is English book design. I want to translate some English book for free. LaTex is fancy and attracts me deeply. I know some basic LaTeX knowledge and used it for some course assignments and project reports. But I have no experience about book template writing and I want to learn it very very much. So I want some books or website that focus on this topic, not books about every thing of latex or fundamentals.
    – Excalibur
    Dec 26, 2013 at 5:27
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    You need to understand what is a book, the anatomy of the book, and a little bit about typography. Well these books can be a good start point for you: Modern Book Design by Ruari McLean. Adrian Frutiger (one of my favourite typographers) has many interesting books about, but I can't find translations in English. Type and Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam also can be useful for you.
    – Aradnix
    Dec 26, 2013 at 5:58
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    I can't believe @Nasser about the people doesn't read (paper) books anymore. ebooks exists but the technology has not yet a complete replace for the books. There is not an standard yet. Many ebooks (such epub) make awful things with maths. It seems that the ebook designers only thought about novels and literature and forgot to include other kind of books in its specifications. We have no also a comfortable and gently device for our eyes. The tablet and PC screen are not the best for read long texts. Yes, there is kindle and nook but not everyone has one of them.
    – Aradnix
    Dec 26, 2013 at 7:23
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    @Nasser HTML5 and CSS3 has very nice features, but not enough (for me). The typography in the web is awful the most of times, and it is extremely arid and poor, especially if you are not using google web fonts on your website. If the future is HTML5 and CSS3 what are we doing here learning and using LaTeX and friends?
    – Aradnix
    Dec 26, 2013 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


Well I thinks is time to answer this question properly instead of create a large chain of comments. In fact I'll recycle few of them here.

First of all, TeX (and LaTeX in some way) is the translation of the lead technology used since the mythical Gutenberg to the digital age. So, TeX has a lot, hundreds of commands that let you control with great precision where the printer should put the ink and with which form.

Unfortunately although TeX gives great power and control over the page, does not teach you how to design and use all that power correctly and wisely. There is the need to learn some graphic design and typography focused on book design, which is what interests you learn. If you are not pursuing a professional career in design, then you have to learn on your own (like me) what is perhaps somewhat unorthodox.

As I said before, the book design is a very exciting topic. But you should take care about two things the language, and the book culture in your country. That's important because many decisions about design in books depend to some extent on the local or national publishing tradition.

I can suggest a whole library of books on design and typography books, however I'll try to focus on what may be helpful as a beginner.

Basic Books

These give you a general introduction, without being exhaustive give you an overview to help you understand what all this.

  1. Modern Book Design by Ruari McLean. Is not my favourite, it was a little bit boring for me (was not my first), but is good.
  2. Adrian Frutiger is one of the most important typographers of the 20th century (and one of my favourites). He has many interesting books about typography, the most of then I read are published in Spanish by Gustavo Gili Publisher, in English the only one I've found is Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning by Adrian Frutiger.
  3. Type and Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam also can be useful for you. It brings you an enjoyable overview.
  4. Once you have a better idea about what is behind the desing of a book, you can learn a little bit more with this one: Designing with Type by James Craig it's basic, good and very enjoyable too.
  5. The typographic world can be fascinating but when you are newbie is not easy to think with types. Then Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton would be perhaps the best choice.

Specialized Books

Now that you know of typefaces, font families, compositions, and so it's time to learn how to use all that. As your aim is design books, you'll need to learn how to create visual structures and use grids.

  1. A good start point for this would be Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type by Kimberly Elam.
  2. Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara. He has also another nice book for design that you should read later: Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual.
  3. I can't close this section without suggests the books of Edward Tufte, perhaps the most famous: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

Books about books

Finally the last suggestions:

  1. This one was a before and after for me about the design of a book and also one of the most cited books about desing: The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurs.
  2. A more technical book about the design of books Book Design by the same Andrew Haslam, a famous designer which makes paper engineering for his books.
  3. The Chicago Manual of Style, perhaps is not a book for learn to desing a book, but is very useful for write books and has a lot of suggestions you can use for improve your designs, specially in English language.

Well, surely there are hundreds or maybe thousands of other books that fall outside this brief list. It was not my intention to make an exhaustive list of course, but to make very specific suggestions on my experience might be of use.

About the websites, I'm afraid that I know of none that can help you, and the only one I could recommend you for visit is in Spanish.

Finally I hope these tips are useful for anyone who wants to delve into the design behind LaTeX classes and understand the reasons behind are based certain decisions and design conventions inherent to all of them.

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    Wow! @Aradnix That is a great answer!
    – Excalibur
    Dec 27, 2013 at 19:36

I really like Book Typography: A Designer's Manual. You may find that some of its advice is not easily translatable to TeX; I imagine TeX would be a good tool to get 95% of the job done, but the final touches probably require a professional hand.

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