Some time ago, I decided to release a large print edition of A Damn Close-Run Thing. It’s not necessarily something that I would recommend to other indie authors, unless you have reason to believe that there is a market for a large print version. In that case, this post should help you create something that is genuinely useful for those people that struggle to read standard print.
Font and Font Size
Obviously, large print books need a larger font size than normal. 16 point is generally considered a minimum size, though 18 point is recommended if at all possible. Having decided on a minimum font size, there should be no text in a smaller size. Page numbers, copyright information, etc should all be at least as large as the main body text. Headings should use a larger font size, as with normal print, but nothing should be smaller than the minimum size that you choose.
It is also important to consider the font face. A sans-serif font should be used, and if at all possible, avoid using italics, underlining, or blocks of capital letters. I recommend the Tiresias LPfont. This font has been specifically designed for use in large print documents, and can be freely downloaded from the Tiresias website. (Note that the contents of the Tiresias website is in the process of being moved to the RNIB website).
In general, plenty of white space makes a book easier to read for those with sight issues. Single spacing can make it difficult to find the start of the next line, so use 1.25 or 1.5 spacing instead. Similarly, indented paragraphs can make it hard to find the start, so use block paragraphs instead of indented paragraphs.
Margins should be wider, at least 25mm (1 inch) wide. If you have footnotes, move them to the end of the chapter or to a section at the end of the book, so that they do not clutter the page.
Most print books use full-justified text, so that the right side of the text is lined up along the right margin. However, this leads to uneven gaps between words. For this reason, left-justified (or ragged-right) text is more readable, and so should be used in large print books.
Headings should also be left-aligned rather than centre-aligned. This makes them easier to find.
Images should be aligned to the left for the same reason, but there should be no text to the right of the image. A partially-sighted reader may not realise that there is text next to the image. The image should be clear, and any text inside the image should obey the same rules as the rest of the text in the book. If possible, move the text out of the image. If this isn’t possible, ensure that there is good contrast and that the text is on a plain background.
All text must be horizontal, including things like labels on diagrams and images.
Keep Things Together
It is important to keep related items connected, without large spaces. If your contents page doesn’t already have a row of dots between the chapter name/number and the page number, add them. Tables should usually have lines around the cells. It is also important to avoid widows and orphans (single lines from a paragraph at the top or bottom of a page).
Don’t use hyphens. If a word won’t fit on a line, put the whole word on the next line rather than splitting it with a hyphen. Hyphenated words (eg u-boat) should be on one line, not split over two lines at the hyphen.
Use a Clear Layout
Hopefully your books have a consistent layout already, but this is particularly important when designing books for the partially sighted. Headings should be clearly different to the body text. It’s a good idea to include chapter names on page headers if possible, as it allows the reader to easily determine where they are in the book.
Mark it as Large Print
Finally, make it clear that the book is a large print edition. In Createspace, make sure that the “Large Print” box is ticked on the Description page. This will allow Amazon and other retailers to categorise it as a large print edition. In order to make it clear to human readers, however, the title should be modified. This need be no more than appending “(Large Print)\” to the end of the title. The cover should be marked to show that it is a large print edition. This can be as simple as a coloured band with “Large Print Edition” printed in it.
This blog post covers the essential points. If you wish to find out more, the following are likely to be useful:
- UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF)
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
- American Foundation for the Blind
Making a large print version of paper books isn’t too difficult, although a large number of images will make it more challenging. In my experience, sales have been minimal. That may be true for you too, but the only way to find out for sure is to try it.
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