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Formatting Tips for a Children's Book Layout

August 20, 2021 (Last Updated June 22, 2022)

Marcy G.

Do your dreams include writing a children’s book? Books for young readers (and young listeners) help nurture a love of literature. For many, book reading is a treasured childhood memory. It’s no wonder many self-publishing authors enjoy the challenge of creating children’s books.

The layout of a children’s book is different from a book for older readers in many significant ways. Illustrations take great precedence - to some extent, even more than words. Good illustrations keep kids engaged and even attract buyers. (Parents instinctively reach for books with the most charming cover illustrations.) 

The word count must consider the shorter attention spans, and placement of the copy should work with the illustrations and flow of the book.

So how do you lay out a children’s book?

Because children’s books are not text-heavy and often contain large graphics or illustrations, the layout can be tricky. Before you can begin, here are some general children’s book layout tips.


What is the average word count for a children’s book?

The average word count for a children’s book depends on the age of the reader. Typically, the average recommended word count for a kid’s book would be:

Ages 4 - 6: 1,000 words or less

Ages 5 – 9: 2,500 words

Chapter books for ages 7 – 9: 10,000 – 12,000 words

Short novels or middle-grade novels for ages 10 - 12: 20,000 – 25,000

If you’re working on a book for babies or toddlers, your text might use even less words - or illustrations only. There are no hard-and-fast rules about word count for children’s books, but these are some good perimeters to keep in mind when writing a children’s book manuscript.

With this in mind, a children’s book page layout will rely heavily on placement of light copy over larger illustrations.


How many pages are typically in a children’s book layout?

Children’s books (including picture books) are typically 32 pages. However, you can select any number of pages you’d like to tell your story, provided it’s not too long to hold a small child’s attention. Since many children’s books do have low page counts, you may choose to print your children’s book with saddle stitched (stapled) binding. If you do opt for saddle stitch binding, it’s important that your book contain an even number of pages. Paperback binding is also a popular book binding option for children’s books and can accommodate as little as 16 pages.

Now that you’ve considered these factors, you’re ready to begin your children’s book layout.

Interior illustration of children's book

How do you lay out a manuscript for a children’s book?

The most important rule of formatting:  set up your files the same size as the finished book. If your children’s book will be 6” x 9”, then your files also should be 6” x 9”. (Having trouble changing your page size? 48 Hour Books can help!)

Children’s books are typically a 7” square or 7” x 10”, so that is often a good choice for your kid’s book layout. However, you can make your children’s book whatever size you prefer. Larger book sizes, such as 8” x 10” and 8.5” x 11” are also popular.

We offer a full FAQ section on our website, here. You’ll find a FAQ section devoted to file setup and PDF creation. We also offer reformatting services, where our in-house designers reformat your children’s book manuscript to look like the interior of best sellers. Another great option is to use a book-formatting template.

Children's book illustration

Where can I find children’s book layout templates?

Using a book template (or a book formatting template) is the easiest way to lay out your children’s book manuscript. With a book layout template, you simply open the template in your word processing program and start typing. These templates are an easy way to get a professional-looking children’s book manuscript.

48 Hour Books offers free book layout templates for formatting both interior and covers. These templates take the guesswork out of sizing, fonts, spacing and margins. A book-formatting template makes your children’s book manuscript print-ready. (You don’t need to wait until after you’ve written your book to use the template either. Just download our free template before you’ve written the book and start writing directly in the template.)

Using a book template ensures proper formatting for printing. 48 Hour Books also offers a book cover size calculator, which is also free. Determine the cover size of your children’s book easily. The book cover size calculator considers the number of pages in your book and the type of cover you’ve selected (we offer both perfect bound and case bound options.) These factors determine the width of the spine of your children’s book cover.


How do you design a children’s book cover?

Imagery is so important for a children’s book. You want color, lively illustrations, and a designer with the skills to give personality to your characters. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional illustrator for your children’s book. This is never more important than on the cover.

The cover of a children’s book is an important element to attract readers. Since these books are highly visual, many book buyers select them based on the cover illustration alone. If the cover catches their attention, they’re more likely to pick it up and skim the content. Without a colorful, eye-catching cover, a children’s book might have great content and no one will ever know!

48 Hour Books prints full-color covers at no additional cost. We also offer our Create-A-Cover service for only $100. Or, have one of our in-house designers create the perfect book cover for you. We have expert designers, who help you choose imagery, fonts and even a perfect a color scheme. You’ll talk to the designer over the phone, so they work with your input and direction.


Print Your Children’s Book with 48 Hour Books

Are you ready to make a children’s book? 48 Hour Books prints bookstore-quality books and offers superior customer service. Our team loves to help self-publishing authors. If you have questions about how to lay out a children’s book or anything in general, we’re here! Find out more about How to Write and Publish a Children’s Book and check out our blog for more tips and tricks for authors.


To talk to our friendly customer service team, we offer phone, email or online chat.


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