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Choosing the Right Trim Size for Your Self-Published Book

April 07, 2021 (Last Updated March 29, 2021)

Michael Dull

Choosing the right trim size for your book isn’t always the first thing on your mind when writing. However, considering the orientation and dimensions of your book is an essential step before printing. Below we will discuss the different book trim sizes to help you decide which one is best for your book.


Portrait Orientation:

Portrait is the most common orientation you see in bookstores. Portrait books are taller than they are wide and are bound on the long edge. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books almost always use a portrait design, as it provides plenty of vertical space for text. This orientation can be used for books with photos, too, if your artwork is vertical, and not horizontal.


Standard Portrait Sizes:

Most novels, memoirs, and self-help books utilize a 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 book layout. Many prefer these sizes because they create a cost-effective, easy-to-carry book. The largest standard portrait book size is 8.5 x 11, or letter-size. Family histories, technical manuals, and daily devotionals alike can all take advantage of the extra page space for pictures, text, or journaling. If you’re looking for a really compact size or wish to boost your young adult novel’s page count, a 4.25 x 7 pocket book is the way to go.


Landscape Orientation:

While not as popular as portrait, landscape orientation is another common choice. The dimensions for this layout generate a book that’s wider than it is tall and is bound on the shorter edge. Less common than portrait, landscape offers a suitable option for many genres. The broader horizontal pages are ideal for photography, art, and children’s books to display their graphics and photos.


Standard Landscape Sizes:

Larger landscape book sizes, such as 11 x 8.5 and 12 x 9, are very visually striking, as they offer large expanses for the reader’s eye to go across. This layout is also great for art, photo, and coffee table books that are intended to lay flat. Smaller landscape trim sizes like 7 x 4.25 or 9 x 6 offer similar advantages, but in a more compact, cost-friendly form.


Square Orientation:

Square book designs are exactly what the name implies, meaning the width and height of a square book are identical. This orientation is often used for books that need both vertical and horizontal space for photos, graphics, and text. While more uncommon than portrait or landscape, children’s books, cookbooks, and art books are often designed using a square layout.


Standard Square Book Sizes:

8.5 x 8.5 and 11 x 11 books work well for children’s books and photo albums, but they offer advantages to other genres. Great for cookbooks, too, the broad page size allows you to display large detailed photos of delicious dishes opposite ingredient and instruction lists. Smaller square sizes like 5.5 x 5.5 and 6 x 6 are great options for childrens books as well. The compact size ensures kids can handle the books easily. Click here to learn more about writing and publishing a children’s book.


Thinking of a Size Somewhere In-between?

If none of the standard book sizes are exactly what you’re looking for, then it’s possible to have a special trim size printed. It isn’t uncommon for a self-publisher writing a genealogy to want a book at 7 x 10. Perhaps the author may want the page space advantage of an 8.5 x 11 book, combined with the portability of a 6 x 9 book. Ordering a special trim size is easy -  simply select the next size up on your order form  then provide your desired trim size in the “customer comments” portion of your order with 48 Hour Books. We will custom trim your books to match your dimensions.



Having issues getting your file to match the book size you want? We understand it can be difficult as a first-time author or self-publisher to format a manuscript to the right trim size. If you need help formatting your insides pages, then perhaps our reformatting services are for you! Just need a little help getting started? We also have free downloadable book templates, available in four standard portrait sizes. Simply download the template, which will open in most word-processing programs, then start typing! The dimensions will already be set up for you, so you can feel confident you are uploading the right file size.


Ready to start printing your book? Place an order today!



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Questions about your files? Check out our FAQs. Or, if you need to speak with someone, our team is always available for assistance and answer any questions you may have about book formatting options. Call 1.800.231.0521 or email us.


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