Designing a Book: A Study in Scarlet

In the fall of 2018, spurred on by the approaching holiday season, I decided to take on an ambitious project: designing an entire book and printing it at the MSU Main Library. I knew someone who was becoming a big Sherlock Holmes fan, but hadn’t actually read the first book yet. I decided to design my own version and give it to them as a Christmas present.

I used Google Drawings, my favorite mockup tool, to make the preliminary cover sketch. I came up with two options, got feedback from coworkers who had also read the book, and created the final version with InDesign.

The final design was a blend of both

I got the inside text from Project Gutenberg, since A Study in Scarlet is in the public domain, and formatted it in InDesign. I created my own table of contents and my own cover page, then put everything together and had it printed in the MSU Library Makerspace. Both me and the recipient were pleased with the result!

I learned a lot about InDesign with this project, as I had never used it so extensively before. But it was also my first time printing a digital project in this way, and I discovered that my cover didn’t look as professional as I had hoped in physical form. If I had the chance, I would redo the cover and add more front matter to replicate an officially published book. But, as it is, it was still immensely satisfying to see something evolve from my mind to a tangible product.

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What’s on My Desk?

I wrote and designed this article in 2016 as a union between a visual rhetoric class and an editing class. The text imagines that, several years in the future, I’m working as a copyeditor at Penguin Random House and being interviewed about the books I reference to do my work.

The content of this article inspired my design. I knew I wanted a picture of myself, definitions of a few editing terms, and some kind of depiction of the sources themselves. I pulled the colors of the banners and callout from the picture, and placed the elements flush with the edge of the page.

Because the banner behind the title is a darker shade of green, it attracts the eye, before leading into the ombre of the other banners. The length of the bands of color at top and bottom unifies the two page spread, and the bottom one acts as a desk for a few objects, which are all mentioned in the article. The definitions at the top are almost like sticky notes, and connect to bolded words in the main text.

I paid attention to the alignment of elements and text, and most of the banners end at midpoints or where a margin begins. The middle note on the right-hand page doesn’t correspond to these exactly, but it’s equidistant to the other notes, and the picture’s left edge is at its middle. As I entered in body text, I tried to avoid leaving orphans or widows, and fixed awkward hyphenations (especially in small text boxes), which InDesign puts in automatically.

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