If you’ve read the previous articles on typography and spacing, you know how to create professional copy for your book covers using the appropriate typefaces, kerning and point sizes. Now we’ll explore how to orient the text elements within the design to create great book covers. You have three things to consider when positioning cover copy:
1. Grouping and Proximity on Book Covers
Grouping and proximity help separate text elements and make the cover easier to read.
Grouping words of common text elements together lets readers know they are part of the same item (title, subtitle, or author, etc). When we look at a book cover, we initially perceive a group of words, such as the title, as a single image. When book covers are well designed, we can easily distinguish which group is the title information, which one is the author’s name, and so on.
Proximity tells us how groups are related. When items are separated, we recognize them as independent elements. A blurb at the top, title near the middle, and author’s name and credentials at the bottom, for instance, is easy to take in.
When items are in close proximity, we assume them to be connected or related. Therefore, when we’re searching a front cover for more information about the author, the first place we look is to the lines of smaller text placed directly above or below the author’s name.
In the first of the three book covers above, Spook, the text below the author’s name describes her previously published works. The second example further defines the groups with colored boxes and shapes. The white box contains the title and subtitle, while the orange one includes the author’s name and his published writing.
This orientation, of clearly defined groups and their proximity to one another, allows readers to rapidly identify and locate information.
2. Text Alignment on Book Covers
Text alignment refers to how multiple lines of an individual text element are arranged. When a subtitle, description, blurb or other text element contains more than one line of text, the lines will either be centered on one another, or they will be justified on the left or right margin.
Generally speaking, the alignment of each text element should be consistent. For example, if the lines of the title information are left-justified, the other text will usually look better when it’s left-justified as well. The same goes for centering. If the lines in the title are centered on one another, the lines of the other text should also be centered.
3. Page Alignment
Page alignment refers to how each text element lines up with the others on the page. To avoid haphazard positioning of words and text elements on your book covers, a fail-safe approach is to use consistent page alignment for all your copy. Text elements can all line up on the center-line of the page, or be aligned along a common margin.
Start with the Rule of Thirds to guide your exactly locations, and for added emphasis on a key text element, such as the title, consider diverging from the standard alignment and placing it on a Rule of Thirds intersection point (see left).
Locations that result in convergence (an image or other object pointing to the title) also work well for book covers. (For more on effective layouts read Layout Part 1: Rule of Thirds & Diagonal Scan)
Book Covers with Proper Text and Page Alignment
As a rule of thumb, book covers look best with the page alignment and text alignment are the same. In other words, if the text alignment is left justified, it usually looks best when each of those text elements are also lined up on the left side of the page. Centering works the same way.
Refer to the article on focal points ( Create A Focal Point that Gets Noticed), as well as the section on layout, for additional guidance when positioning key text.
Book Covers: Before & After
In the first rendition of the book covers below, the typeface and sizing work, but the text placement is messy and disorganized. Some elements are left-justified, others are centered, and they fail to align on a common margin. Exclusive Student Edition is so close to Napoleon Hill, it appears to describe the author instead of the book. The location, as well as the line spacing, of the multi-line promo makes it look like a last-minute addition.
When the eye scans the page, it jumps around in an attempt to grasp the information. Most readers won’t take the time to make sense of this cover.
a. The upper section has too much text, too close together, creating a mixed message. Close proximity indicates the information is related, and in this case, it’s not.
b. Here, line spacing is too tight for the small point size and feels crowded.
Some copy is centered and some is left-justified, requiring a viewer to switch gears for each new piece of information.
c. Line spacing is too wide, suggesting the lines of text don’t belong to the same element.
In the second design, each text element is left-justified and then aligned along a common left margin on the page (except for the last line, which acts to enhance upper-left to lower-right diagonal scan). Each text element has a dedicated location, with ample proximity from the next. Spacing between lines within each text cluster is equalized (including the multi-line info in the middle). Moreover, to simplify the many groupings, the spacing between each element is also made equal (or nearly so).
Uniformity is achieved with the left-side alignment, near-equal spacing between groups, and a slight mirroring effect of the author and title.
The upper section is no longer crowded or cluttered, and the prominent author name becomes a more defining piece of the design.
Unrelated text elements are separated and given their own space on the page. They stand independently from one another, yet, the design remains cohesive because they share a common margin.
A quick scan of the front cover, and you know exactly where to look for the title, the author, and more detailed information if you want it.
Hope you enjoyed Book Covers: Copy Placement. Thanks for reading!
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By Stacie Vander Pol