Updated: Apr 13, 2022
By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
If you are having your book interior laid out by a professional graphic designer, we recommend leaving text height decisions to that person. Since it is his/her business to know the rules and standards of interior book design, you can feel confident that he/she won’t let you down. That does not mean you do not have a discussion with the designer; having some knowledge of book design when your work is being laid out can only be a good thing.
Using a text that is quite large will make a book look like a children’s book, while lettering that is too small can be too hard to read. Finding the correct size is important. Text heights for novels and nonfiction books are normally 11 to 12 points. However, mostly as a response to an aging population, many publishers are offering editions in larger print to accommodate readers with poor vision. Those books are printed using 14-point text.
Here is a list of text heights used in each category that you may find helpful:
Children’s picture books (ages 1 – 5) use 24-point text
Early reader (ages 6 -7) use 18-point text
Middle grade (ages 8 -11) use 14 to 16-point text
Young adult (ages 12 to 18) use 11 to 12-point text
Standard fiction and non-fiction (ages 18 and above) use 11 to 12-point text
These are standards to guide designers, but sometimes there may be good reasons for some variation. Children’s book illustrators should be conscious of leaving space so that large text can be landed on the page. Smaller text sizes (normally 2 pts smaller) will be used for footnotes, while higher sizes should be utilized for chapter headings and titles. There is a lot that goes on within the interior design of a book. Let the professionals do their work but never be afraid to ask questions.