What characteristics are common to well-designed and well-formatted textbooks?

I’m looking for inspiration on how to make my book appear more professional with regard to typesetting and page design/layout (although of course these alone don’t make it more professional). I found this question:

Examples of good academic poster design

Which is very close to what I’m looking for, except for books (or possibly articles).

Here is a related question on the TeX stackexchance site:


However, that question is very specific to (La)TeX. Although I’m writing in LaTex myself, I’m interested in any examples, whether they are written in MS Word or using a typewriter or anything else. I’m only interested in academic texts that have a serious and professional look about them.

My own field is in history, so if you have examples in history or other scholarly fields, that would be the best.

Also, I know about style guides such as Bringhurst’s or Oxford/Chicago’s style guides, but these are guides rather than academic studies.

The book will be in colour but any advice is welcome.

Question: What qualities and strategies exist to format a textbook? What are the commonalities well-designed textbooks share in terms of structure, hierarchy, captions, etc..?


The simplest rule on this is usually the best: less is more.

I have often found myself in the position where i was praised for layout that was simply not overdoing it (see also this long-winding answer on the topic). Inexperienced users will over-design and over-layout a document.

Stick to 1 Typeface.
You can have two, one for headings. But think if you really need it.

Stick to 2, max. 3 headers.
Yes, this means you should re-think your structure.
Don’ts: Introduction

When choosing header-styles, start with body text and then go up, not the other way around.

If you are using InDesign or equivalent, use a grid. A grid to structure the content and a baseline grid for the type.

First page of a chapter goes on the right (for visibility). Also, the first page is a right page.

But most of all, you asked for examples for well designed books. Look at books. There are millions of them and they all follow these principles. There are no academic studies to my knowledge of the goodness of book-design. There are just books that focus on presenting content and those that do anything but. And the path to the former is simple: ask yourself what the content needs, not the other way around. You don’t decide to make a color book and then decide what to write in it.

Source : Link , Question Author : hysteryteacher , Answer Author : Community

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