I am working on a fiction novel. I want to print this in a comfortable size for carrying and reading. I will have the pages printed, cut to size, glued together, with heavy paper added to the outside to form a cover.

I found the octavo class, which gives a nice look, however, the documentation is a bit confusing. I will print at a local print store. They usually just print on A4 or A5 paper. If I give the store any strange sizes, they'll likely add extra space around the pages, or distort the size to fit their printing machines. Can I use any of the paper-size options (e.g. folio, quarto, or octavo) to create a PDF that I is ready for printing at my local print store? Can I trust octavo to give me enough white-space in the middle of the book, where the seam is?

Are there any other classes or packages I should consider for creating a novel? I had difficulty finding anything related to this in CTAN.

  • What about using geometry to specify your page and layout (or override existing) settings exactly?
    – Werner
    Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


In my opinion there is no better class for the task. If you are going to print on A4 use the imperial size, it will only need minor trimming after printing. Even if you do not trim the difference is only about 20mm, but I would rather keep the ratios as they are.

\documentclass[imperial, twoside,12pt]{octavo}

Here is an image from something I have been working on.

enter image description here

Another advantage of using this class and one of its sizes, is that it reads comfortably on a screen, especially the crown class.

  • I will print on A4 (most likely) or A3 paper, but the actual size of each page is A5.
    – Village
    Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 1:01
  • 1
    @Village Try crown and follow section 5 at tub-octavo.pdf (texdoc octavo).
    – yannisl
    Commented Nov 7, 2011 at 1:07
  • By trimming, you mean I should take have the print store actually cut the paper to a different size? How do I know how to tell them where to cut?
    – Village
    Commented Nov 14, 2011 at 1:14
  • @Village Have a look a the class documentation it has all the dimensions, you can also use a package to add cropmarks.
    – yannisl
    Commented Nov 14, 2011 at 5:18

You may combine KOMA-Script package typearea with octavo:


BCOR is the binding correction at the middle of the book. Depending on the binding method and the thickness of paper and number of pages you may use more than 10mm. IMHO you should not use less than 10mm.

To use strange sizes you may use option paper of package typearea instead of a4paper, a5paper or the other well known options of the standard classes. There is even a paper= Width:Height, e.g., paper=170mm:210mm.

BTW: To arrange the pages to print sheets of a booklet, you may use a second document with package pdfpages.

For more information about typearea see chapter 2 of the KOMA-Script guide, scrguien.pdf (in English) or scrguide.pdf (in German).

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