Inner margin in a classical book layout

I used to think that the inner margin should be smaller than the outer margin in two-sided paper layouts, as in classical book layouts.

This is an example of what I mean:


This example was taken from this document:

However, people in the printing house where I am going to have my book printed recently told me that I am wrong. According to them, the inner margin should be equal to or greater than the outer one, mainly because there is a small part of the margin that gets partially hidden in the binding process.

I know that I should add a small offset to the inner edge of the layout. When I am asking about inner and outer margins, I mean without taking that offset into account.

So, my question is: What are some most common or accepted rules about inner-outer margins ratio, when talking about a classical book design?

When I say classical I don’t mean medieval but just not too modern.


Hi Vincent and welcome!

I think Tschichold’s Canon works esthetically but yes, depending on your binding, you will have to add to the inner margin. It obviously depends on the kind of binding and also the amount of pages in your book.

There are other canons like Van de Graaf and Rosarivo and Bringhurst also has a nice section about page proportions in his Elements of typographic style book.

I can’t think of a specific rule to follow in determining margins but there are guidelines that will guide your choice:

  • take into account the nature of the document (i.e. if it’s a short
    shelf-life like a newspaper, you won’t be having big margins like
    this, too expensive and make it look too precious).

  • take into account how the binding will influence your margins.

  • take into account the paper format you are printing on.
  • take into account where you will be inserting your pagination.

Also, usually, the bottom margin is a bit wider to balance things out visually and also leaves some space for the reader to hold the text. Most canons can be adapted to allow for more or less text so make sure you know how to use your favorite canon well.

If you want strict rules, I would definitely recommend Tschichold’s The New Typography. I would recommend to take some of his advice and leave some unless you really want to do something extremely classical.

Whenever I’ve laid out classical books, I’ve very often started with Tschichold as a basis and then tweak according to binding and just my own visual sensitivity.

Source : Link , Question Author : Vicent , Answer Author : curious

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