Best Book Design: Board Books Edition, How to Make a Professional Looking Board Book 

Board books are wonderful tools for storytelling, especially for children and young demographics that can interact with a book that is more tangible than plain old pages. However, the design and steps to make these books look and feel right is different from regular book design, and requires a particular process. Thankfully, the crew here at PufferPrint has got you covered! In this article, we will walk you through the key differences, tips to get you on the right track, and how to make sure your board book ends up beautiful, professional, and attractive! We also cover why board books are the way to go for young children and infants alike. 

Why a Board Book? 

There are many other reasons that a board book is the way to go, especially for young children and babies. In a 3D-esque format, the story really comes to light in front of their eyes. Specifically designed for babies and infants, these books are also often safer than regular hardback books. With rounded edges, there is little chance of injury or harm. They are also printed on a board like material for durability and lastability with curious baby behavior- no chance of big rips or tears. Board books also have only 18-24 pages so they are not as long and therefore easily digestible by little ones just beginning to understand words and phrases. Little hands can more easily grasp and pick up the density of board books and interact with them. As a great introduction to reading, board books are a fantastic way to get words and the format of books familiar to your young ones. Creating your own board book for your child can be a wonderful experience of bonding, imagination, and a lasting memory for when they get older. Unleash your creativity and ignite theirs! 

And with that, let’s get into the design process. We walk you through fonts and colors to printing tips to keep in mind a few platforms to help you make it an easy and enjoyable process. 

Top Tips to Keep in Mind: Design 

1.The difference between pages and spreads 

When designing your board book, this is a vital distinction to make in the process. As you can guess, a page is a single page in the book while a spread is two pages side by side that will be placed as such when the book is actually printed. There are various formats for spreads, and platforms for creating such spreads, which we will dive into more below. It also depends on whether you want to mass produce or individually create your board book. 

illustration showing the difference between pages and spreads on a children's board book

2.Be Aware of Bleed 

Bleed is the printing that goes off the edge of the page where it will be trimmed when printed- but don’t let this hemorrhage ruin your board book! Since this is the area that will be trimmed off, we need to make sure to give extra space on page spreads to account for the printing mechanism and any design inconsistencies. It is easy for the artwork or graphics and background colors to extend to the bleed area. After trimming, this bleed ensures that there are no unprinted edges in the final edition of your board book. Utilize full bleed with particular templates to make sure that we avoid unprinted edges, while maintaining the artwork and graphics that are included.

image showing how to correctly use bleed lines when printing a board book so that the image bleeds off the edge of the page

3.Safety Margins are Key 

A safety margin, similar to a bleed area, is where the important parts of the design should be placed to ensure they aren’t trimmed due to potential variations in the trimming process. You should place important items like text or logos here within the safety to keep them intact. We love our safety margin to keep everything in its place. 

two book examples showing text placement and safety margins for printing

4.Design Creatively with Colors, Fonts, and Borders

Using a high contrast color scheme can do wonders that is pleasing to the eye and attractive to potential readers and audiences. Follow the general rule of dark font on light backgrounds or the opposite, light font colors on dark backgrounds. This ensures that colors pop in the board book and no ink will bleed together. We don’t recommend having a dark font on dark backgrounds as no one would be able to read it! Keep in mind that when designing, the brightness of your screen may affect the printed outcome.

5.Make those borders a help and not a hindrance

Borders are great tools to help emphasize type in the book or photos, if using correctly. Don’t use borders in the overarching spread design as any variation, even slight, in the trimming process will cut them off or cause them to appear off center. Use borders on individual photos, but be cautious of margin and bleed areas to keep everything intact.

6.Finally, get that board book print ready

Choosing the correct color mode for print is vital, if you’re designing your board book with advanced board book templates from a provider or uploading a PDF spreadsheet to a professional template. Make sure to provide the photos or spreads in CMYK color mode to have the best colors and print quality. Even though we view files on the web in RGB, CMYK is made for printing! Keep this in mind when designing and printing. The next key part of printing is making sure your images are 300 dpi, or dots per image. This ensures that resolution will be crystal clear and accessible. If you use an image taken with a smartphone, use the original image and not a compressed version. On PDF spreads, the final thing to keep in mind is the disable or delete lines. Get rid of these on the design before uploading for printing, or else your artwork will look a lot less artsy!

And there you have it, our best tips for designing and perfecting your board book! PufferPrint can help make the process seamless and easy, to share your storytelling with children of all ages. Keep up to date on the blog to read more about self publishing, books, and everything in between.

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