Author Topic: Design choices for a small book  (Read 3729 times)

jvecht

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Design choices for a small book
« on: November 12, 2014, 11:43:53 am »
There was a great discussion in this Forum about my first effort to create a small book with Scribus here: http://forums.scribus.net/index.php/topic,1494.0.html with a lot of really useful comments.

That book was in Dutch as its goal was to help Dutch people using the Xubuntu computer system for which little help is available in Dutch. It was meant to be read on screen, but a decent print was possible too. That book was very well received with far over 300 downloads within two months. It is a free download. I am now working on a second (Dutch) book for the MINT 17 XFCE computer system. The first step is to improve on that first book.

From the comments in that topic I created a new book. A sample only. To help understand the nature of this book I used English instead of Dutch and a lot of Lorem Ipsum. I am a Dutchman and it is quite hard to find wording to fit perfectly, so please be gentle on that. The books will all be in Dutch. The goal is to make this second book a lot better on layout and such with the help of this Forum.

My primary design goal is that these books are well readable on a computer or tablet screen with as a minimum screen size that of a 7" tablet. I followed all comments except some as I will explain below.

First of all I kept the three column basis layout. I want the pdf to open full screen and show the entire page. I thoroughly hate online publications based on a portrait layout, where I need to scroll up and down all the time to read an article. Nice for a publication to be printed, but my books are not likely to be printed by anyone.
So I kept the three column page set-up, but I changed the font size down to 10 pt. Now reading a 7" tablet is rather hard, but on bigger computer screens it should be just fine and the text in these three columns is less broken up. I want to care for readers with reading problems to some extent and on limited hardware and feel not to happy about the smaller font myself really. But then they can use the zoom function of course.

Regarding the screen-shots I have put in a lot of effort to get sharp, crisp screen-shots. They are a lot better than in quite some commercial publications, but they still are problematic and need a lot of attention. In this sample I have put in some screen-shots taken from the first book, just to be able to show the layout of images and captions.The quality is not that great, but that I know and will address later in the production process.

Here is the link to the sample / version 2: http://bit.ly/10Y7XKy

Looking forward to any comments!

regards,

Just Vecht


Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Karma: 16
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 04:11:57 pm »
It really shows how those small things make it look better.

I just had a quick look and some things are just a matter of taste.

The leading (linespacing) looks to tight, it might be due to the font having a large x-height. The font size, design, line length and leading all need to be considered to make it easy for the reader to follow a line and then jump to the beginning of the next line.

I'm not very fond of the link look in the beginning of the first chapter, it really sticks out looking like a heading (the purpose of headings is to catch your eye).

Also I think the indented captions look weird, I guess you indented them to make them different from the body text? But I think the italic may be sufficient. Maybe try to make the font 1-2 points smaller and both bold and italics (or maybe just bold instead of italics).

Contents, do you intend to have page references or make it into links? To me it does not make sense to have a contents list if it's of no use for navigation.

As for screen captures, a resolution as high as possible is probably what you need. There are different means to acheive it. Upsampling can be one way, but there may be tools like virtual monitors where the dialogs will be drawn in higher resolution.


Oh, right, the front page looks VERY amateurish now! :) But that is more of an artistic issue, I'm not good at front page designs, typography is my "thing:)

jvecht

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 08:11:33 pm »
Hi Nermander,

The front page is to be redesigned for Mint. I changed all the text frames to English and something went wrong with the transparency settings. I did not bother too much as to concentrate on the typography items.

I will try 11 and 12 pt linespacing and do the same for the baseline grid. Setting that to 10 pt with a 10 pt font was not that smart, I guess, but I was too busy understanding the baseline grid.

I understand about the link. Try another font or a font a bit smaller perhaps.

For the captions I looked how things were done in some books. I will remove the indentation and try your font size and weight advise.

Regarding the list of contents I skipped entering any references as these books are not to be big. But at the same time it is not that much work either. Let me try getting the typography items right first though.

regarding screen captures I tried by connecting my laptop to the biggest screen (in pixels) in the house: the TV, but it did not really produce anything really better. If you have any information or links in that direction regarding Upsampling of virtual monitors that would be great. I will search through Google of course.

Thanks! Looks like I am getting closer to a bit more decent design. .

regards,

Just Vecht

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Karma: 16
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2014, 12:54:50 pm »
I will try 11 and 12 pt linespacing and do the same for the baseline grid. Setting that to 10 pt with a 10 pt font was not that smart, I guess, but I was too busy understanding the baseline grid.

If I recall correct, in most programs "automatic" line spacing becomes around 20%, however most typographers say that you should never ever use automatic line spacing:) 20% works fairly well for fonts sizes around 10-12, but for bigger fonts sizes I think 20% becomes way to much. But on the other hand, such large size is not often used for running text.

I usually set it around 20% and then adjust until it feels right. Remember that what feels right also depends on the font used, I think the x-height matters most but also the descenders may play a role.

Quote
regarding screen captures I tried by connecting my laptop to the biggest screen (in pixels) in the house: the TV, but it did not really produce anything really better. If you have any information or links in that direction regarding Upsampling of virtual monitors that would be great. I will search through Google of course.

I've usually done the same way: used the biggest monitor I have for the screen caps. Regular upsampling can be done in any image editing program (for example GIMP).

I googled a bit and found a few tips.
http://www.spatialguru.com/high-resolution-screenshots-solved/
http://www.turbophoto.com/Photoshop-Tricks/screenshot-photoshop-trick/index.htm
http://www.graphicpush.com/index.php?id=58

jvecht

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2014, 01:16:11 am »
Hi Nermander,

I really appreciate the assistance in this Forum and yours in particular!

Here is the second version of my sample book. There is an additional 2 in the filename to be able to keep versions apart.

The baseline grid is now set at 11 pt (it was 10 pt). I tried 12 pt and did not like it. That was a bit too much.The way how the baseline grid works in this situation is most useful. The font ascenders and descenders are not very large, so maybe that made a 11 pt grid workable.

I solved the problem with the front page. The order of the layers was wrong. I moved the layer with the background image and it now is about same as the Xubuntu book. Note: I will redesign this page for the Mint computer system. It is just there in this sample to give a more complete idea of what I want to do.

I removed the indentation for the captions.I tried other fonts, tried bold and bold italic, but I liked the same Bitstream Vera Sans Italic font most.

Regarding the link I wanted to stick to the usual appearance as links show up in a browser. I ended up with making the underline much thinner to get rid of the heavy impression of the blue underlined text.

I modified the style for the Page number a bit so it fits the text  on the right of the header better. The pdf now does no longer open full screen as many in the Dutch Ubuntu Forum did not like that. They prefer to make that choice themselves.

Hier is the link to this version 2: http://bit.ly/1sOdieX

Looking forward to any comments!

Regarding the screen fonts shots that of spatialguru seems the best option, but I better try that on a second PC - not on my workhorse.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 09:13:27 am by jvecht »

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Karma: 16
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2014, 12:14:11 pm »
I think it looks a lot better. One thing that struck my mind: I've learned that you should usually not have space after the sub headings. They belong to the paragraph below them and should "attach" to it. A space before they heading will separate it from the paragraph above (which usually is what you want). With baseline grid you get that extra space automatically if the sub heading size is larger than the line spacing of the baseline grid.

jvecht

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2014, 02:25:41 pm »
Hi Nermander,

Thanks so much! I understand about the sub headings. I tried it in a version 3 and it looks good. With it I had to increase the baseline grid distance to the page from 0 pt to 4 pt to avoid the first headings creating extra space while text on a neighbouring column just lines out on the grid and has no space above.

It is a special job to get such a small book layed out in a still basic way, I think after all we discussed here. I learned a lot though.

I will start writing the basic text for the planned book and create all the screen shots. Those shot I will do the same as I did with the first (Xubuntu) book and start experimenting with better techniques on that later.

It is time the second book will be available soon now, I think, and I am not after winning some award (if exists) with these books  :D

regards,

Just Vecht

Nermander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1253
  • Karma: 16
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2014, 10:50:36 pm »
Yes, it takes a lot more planning than most people think. I had a very good reading a few years ago when a design company provided a design manual for a magazine they made a few years ago. We are talking about a 16 page document with example pages and explanations of the differect sections of the magazine, feature articles, theme articles, classified section etc. I only have a printed version of it left, and they have removed the PDF from their homepage.

Now that you have done a design you probably have a better feeling of in what order decisions should be made to avoid have to do things in the wrong order, so the next time you'll do it even better:)

jvecht

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
  • Karma: 0
  • Scribus User
Re: Design choices for a small book
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2014, 12:41:49 am »
I came across a DVD with the movie Helvetica by Gary Hustwitt. Most interesting. There is a (Dutch) book from Gerard Unger coming my way too. Lot of things to explore.

Some time ago I paid a visit to the Meermanno Museum in The Hague. Hit the Google Translate link on the right of the EM logo. Very interesting to see handwritten books as well as early printed books. Logic if one thinks about it, the paper quality and the printing techniques are so very much improved these days. People can produce wonderful print results on a junkyard printer at home with ease. When I went to school as a young boy each child's desk still had the small pots for ink and I too had to use ink for the first years.

Nowadays young kids have trouble using a computer mouse, being used to touch screens and gestures instead, and Dads are annoyed to find small fingerprints scattered all over their nice big computer monitor screens.

Of course  mass producing a 200 page book including proper binding at home is not feasible, but things as a plastic ring comb binder and a nice cover with clear plastic protective sheets for a mini production are well within reach of all and results are very acceptable for private and study use.

I will post the link to the book, once finished, in this Forum. Thanks a lot you all!!

regards,

Just Vecht

 

palmate