Pages

Book Production: How to Self-publish Large-Print Books

Headshot of Russell Phillips

Indie author Russell Phillips also runs an author services business

Diversifying formats enables indie authors to reach a wider audience – and large-print books helps us serve the significant number of print-disabled readers who find standard format paperbacks too difficult but still prefer print to audio. As Russell Phillips explains, drawing on his own research and experience, creating a large-print book is not just a matter of increasing point size. His useful post provides a complete how-to list for indie authors everywhere.

 

I’ve released large print versions of several of my books. Most indies only have an ebook, or an ebook and a standard paperback. Having extra formats such as large print looks professional and helps me to stand out.

double page spread of large print version

Spot the differences between large print edition (above) and standard formatting (below)

 

screenshot of double-page spread of standard edition formatting

Font and Font Size

Obviously, large print books need a larger font size than normal. 16 point is generally considered a minimum, but 18 point is preferred if possible. There should be no text in a smaller size. Page numbers, copyright information, etc. should all be at least as large as the main body text. Headings should use a larger font size, as with normal print.

It is also important to consider the font face. Use a sans-serif font, and if at all possible, avoid using italics, underlining, or blocks of capital letters.

White Space

In general, plenty of white space makes a book easier to read for those with sight issues. Single spacing can make it difficult to find the start of the next line, so use 1.25 or 1.5 spacing instead.

Indentation makes it harder to find the start of a paragraph, so use block paragraphs instead.

Margins should be wider than usual, at least 25mm (1 inch) wide. Footnotes should be at the end of the chapter, or in a section at the end of the book, to avoid cluttering the page.

Left Align

Most print books use full-justified text, so that the right side of the text is lined up along the right margin. However, this leads to uneven gaps between words. Left-justified (or ragged-right) text should be used in large print books.

Headings should also be left-aligned rather than centre-aligned. This makes them easier to find.

Images should be aligned to the left for the same reason, but there should be no text to the right of the image. A partially-sighted reader may not realise that there is text next to the image. The image should be clear, and any text inside the image should obey the same rules as the rest of the text in the book. If possible, move the text out of the image. If this isn’t possible, ensure that there is good contrast and that the text is on a plain background.

All text must be horizontal, including things like labels on diagrams and images.

Keep Things Together

It is important to keep related items connected, without large spaces. If your contents page doesn’t already have a row of dots between the chapter name or number and the page number, add them. Tables should usually have lines around the cells. It is also important to avoid widows and orphans (single lines from a paragraph at the top or bottom of a page).

Don’t use hyphens. If a word won’t fit on a line, put the whole word on the next line rather than splitting it with a hyphen. Hyphenated words (e.g. self-publish) should be on one line, not split over two lines at the hyphen.

Use a Clear Layout

A consistent layout is particularly important when designing books for the partially sighted. Headings should be clearly different to the body text. Include chapter names on page headers if possible. This helps the reader determine where they are in the book.

Other Considerations (Book Size, Paper, etc)

Use cream paper rather than white, as it reduces paper glare. A very thick book can be difficult to hold, so you may need to increase the trim size to reduce the page count. I’ve used 6″x9″ and 8″x10″, but you could go up to 8.5″x11″ if you need to.

You may be able to sell your large print books to libraries, so consider a hardback version. Libraries prefer these as they are more durable.

Mark It as Large Print

Finally, make it clear that the book is a large print edition:

  • In KDP Print, tick the “Large Print” box on the Paperback Details page.
  • In IngramSpark, set the Edition Description to “Large Print Edition”.

This will set the metadata so that retailers can categorise it as a large print edition.

Add “(Large Print)” to the end of the title, and mark the cover to show that it is a large print edition. This can be as simple as a colored band with “Large Print Edition” printed in it.

Further Reading

This blog post covers the most important points. If you wish to find out more, the following should be useful:

OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Russell Phillips’ extensive list? Do you have any recommendations on how best to market large-print books? We’d love to hear them!

#Indieauthors - reach more readers & get greater market share by producing large print editions of your #selfpublished books using this handy guide by @Helping_Writers Click To Tweet

OTHER POSTS ABOUT REACHING PRINT-IMPAIRED READERS
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive

Reaching all our Readers: Making books that Everyone can read: Katie Webb & Maribel Steel

How to Print Dyslexia Friendly Books – and Why

, , ,

4 Responses to Book Production: How to Self-publish Large-Print Books

  1. Maria Staal December 7, 2018 at 7:29 am #

    Very interesting, Russell. Thank you.

    Can you tell me more about the cover? Are there any specifics for that, for instance the blurb text on the back etc?

    • Russell Phillips December 10, 2018 at 12:41 pm #

      The advice I found didn’t mention covers at all. I looked at some traditionally published books in large print, and the only difference there seemed to be to add a “Large Print” banner.

      Ideally, I’d say that any text on the cover should follow the same guidelines – sans serif font, at least 16 point, etc, but I suspect it’s less important for the cover than the interior.

  2. Lisa King November 29, 2018 at 9:51 pm #

    Fantastic information Russell.
    Very useful and I’m now excited about creating Large Print editions.
    Thank you

    • Russell Phillips November 29, 2018 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks Lisa, and good luck with your large print editions 🙂

Leave a Reply