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  • Raphaël Freeman

Balancing the book

Updated: May 13



When the manuscript is complete and there are no more corrections, the next stage is the final one of “balancing” the book. This is the process whereby the recto (right-hand page) and verso (left-hand page) of each spread are adjusted to be the same length. The exception is the last page of a chapter, and also when a new section head starts on the recto.

This is accomplished by three methods:

  1. Shorten or lengthen the spread by up to a line (ensuring that there isn’t more than one line between two spread).

  2. On pages where there is vertical space between text and headers or extracts, increase or decrease the space proportionally ensuring that space after headers remains fixed. Unfortunately modern software such as Adobe InDesign does not provide an automatic way of achieving this. This is also known as carding and feathering.

  3. Massage paragraphs by decreasing or increasing the tracking very slightly.

The process can be quite slow particularly when there are no footnotes and only options 1 and 3 are possible. Often it is necessary to go back a number of spreads until balancing is possible on a particular spread.


There are a number of proofreading checks that have to be left until after balancing. Click [here] for a list of what to check before and what to check after.

In the below video the above three methods are demonstrated to balance a number of pages in a recently typeset book.


If you have a manuscript that needs typesetting and you want it to be nicely balanced, then contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

Looking forward to your comments below!

#howto #typesetting #InDesign

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