5 April 2019

A book by its cover

A lot of our typesetting for monographs and edited volumes is contract work to an existing house or series style, but sometimes we’re given free rein on the text design, particularly if a ‘fancier’ or more ‘trade’ feel is required.

In such cases we always ask if the cover’s already been designed, in case there are cues that can be carried through to the text pages and give the book overall integrity.

This doesn’t just mean recreating the cover typography on the title page, as some publishers do by default. Rather, it’s more a case of exploring how the display face of the cover might be used for part title pages and chapter heads, and/or how the body face used for the back cover blurb might relate to the body text inside the book.

I’ve already noted this process elsewhere on books such as Letters of Seamen, Eve’s Apple to the Last Supper and English Medieval Church Towers, but here’s a round-up of some other titles we’ve produced recently.

The Univers Condensed of the cover was carried through to the chapter heads, subheads, running heads and page numbers, with the row of stars facilitating the decoration below the chapter number:

The P22 Arts and Crafts Hunter of the title was carried through to the chapter title and opening drop cap, with the Baskerville of the body text also deployed inside the book:

This was particularly interesting as we were also provided with the cover artwork, a painting by Janet Boulton, to include in the colour plates section. This meant that not only were we able to carry through the typography, but also to use the painting creatively for part title pages and chapter heads:

The Metropolis sans serif face then provided an elegant way to distinguish the extensive interview content from the editorial and narrative text:

This book shows that the “cover→text pages” design process can also work the other way — the rest of the cover hadn’t yet been finalised by the time we worked up the interior, so the publisher intended to use our choice of body text, Utopia, for the blurb and other text on the back cover.

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