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Choosing a Book Orientation: Portrait vs Landscape vs Square

Examples of three Book Orientations - Portrait, Landscape, and Square

What is the Orientation of a Book?

The Orientation of a book refers to the proportional relationship between its width and height dimensions.

For example, a book's width could be shorter than its height (portrait orientation), a book's height could be shorter than its width (landscape orientation), or the width and height dimensions could be equal (square orientation).

Choosing the Best Orientation for your Book

When choosing the best orientation, the decision ultimately comes down to which format does a better job of presenting the subject matter to your readers.

In other words, you'll want to choose the orientation that aligns best with the flow of your book's content while providing the most user-friendly interaction with the book.

Because the format of a book can significantly impact the reading experience, it is important to choose an orientation that complements your specific book. With that in mind, below is an explanation of each orientation type to help you make an informed decision for your book project.

An example of a book with a Portrait Orientation
A book with a Portrait Orientation is taller than it is wide

Portrait Orientation

A portrait-oriented book is taller than it is wide. Hence, the cover and pages are configured vertically. Common examples of portrait book sizes are 5.5" W x 8.5" H, 6" W x 9" H, 8" W x 10" H, and 8.5" W x 11" H.

Because the portrait aspect provides an appealing look and function, the vast majority of books are produced with this orientation. In fact, the portrait orientation is widely considered to be the traditional format for printed books.

The portrait orientation is immensely popular because it offers many benefits. For example, it creates pages that have a narrower field of vision, which increases concentration by making the lines of text shorter and easier to read. This makes the portrait orientation a perfect fit for text-heavy books. This is why novels, biographies, manuals, textbooks, poetry books and other narrative-driven books are commonly printed with a portrait orientation.

Also, the vertical layout of a portrait book allows for a more traditional reading experience, making it easier for readers to comfortably hold the book with both hands or with only one hand. The relatively narrow pages are also easier to navigate and flip through.

Another benefit of portrait-oriented books is that their proportions allow them to fit neatly into bookcases or rest upon bookshelves.

Because portrait books have such widespread use, most of the printing and binding equipment used to create books is heavily geared toward this orientation. The grain direction and dimensions of most paper stocks are also intended primarily for portrait work. As a result, portrait books are usually more economical to produce than a landscape or square book.

By the way, you may be wondering why it is called a "Portrait" orientation. The portrait orientation gets its name from the art of portraiture, which is a painting, sculpture, photograph, or other artistic representation of a person. Since portraits historically depict the head and torso of a person, or even the full body, they are created with the same vertical posture as the person and are thus taller than they are wide.

An example of a book with a Landscape Orientation
A book with a Landscape Orientation is wider than it is tall

Landscape Orientation

A landscape-oriented book is wider than it is tall. This means the cover and pages will have a horizontal shape. Common examples of landscape book sizes are 8.5" W x 5.5" H, 9" W x 6" H, 10" W x 8" H, and 11" W x 8.5" H.

While the portrait orientation remains the predominant choice for most book projects, the wider pages of the landscape orientation offer some distinct advantages for certain types of content and genres.

For example, landscape-oriented pages provide the expansive view needed for books that rely heavily on images and visuals. This includes photography books, illustrated children's books, picture-dense cookbooks, books that contain lots of charts, graphs, or diagrams, and any other type of book designed to offer a visually-engaging experience.

In addition to providing more room for creativity, the horizontal layout of the pages tends to naturally guide the reader on an explorative journey through the book. In addition, the larger images make it easier for the reader to fully immerse themselves into the book's content without feeling constrained by a narrow page layout. These features are particularly beneficial to the art of storytelling.

Books with a landscape orientation can also be easily rested on a table or across one's lap while they are being read. This makes them more comfortable to hold and manipulate for small children, older adults, and individuals with dexterity challenges.

Maybe you are curious why is it called a "Landscape" orientation. A landscape refers to the visible features of an area of land or countryside, whether we are viewing it with our own eyes or in the form of a painting or photograph. Since a landscape spans across our view in a horizontal direction, we use the term landscape orientation to refer to books that are wider than they are tall.

An example of a book with a Square Orientation
A book with a Square Orientation has a width equal to its height

Square Orientation

A book with a Square orientation means its width dimension is the same as its height dimension. In other words, all four sides of the book are equal in length. Common examples of square book sizes are 6" W x 6" H, 7" W x 7" H, and 8.5" W x 8.5" H.

Of the three book orientations, the Square format is used the least. However, this just adds to the uniqueness of a square book and helps it stand out. As a result, it is gaining in popularity for art books, photography books, graphic novels and other creative works.

The square orientation strikes a balance between its two rectangular cousins, portrait and landscape. As a result, the square shape gives it a sophisticated and contemporary edge, allowing it to capture attention and stand out against books with a more conventional appearance.

Also, the symmetrical pages work equally well for displaying text and images. Because the book's flow appears as neither vertical or horizontal, the reader's eyes are drawn to the center of each page, thus capturing attention that is highly focused.

Unlike the Portrait and Landscape orientations, the Square orientation needs no explanation as to how its name was derived. It is simply called "Square" because all four sides of the book are equal in length.

Do you need help with a Book Project?

Color Vision has been in the commercial printing business for four decades. Whichever orientation, size, or binding style you prefer for your book project, we can create it for you.

Best of all, our printing, finishing, and bindery services are extremely affordable. So, if you have an upcoming project and would like a quote, simply fill out our Quote Request form and will email a quote to you.

Or, if you prefer to discuss your project by phone, just give us a call at 800-543-6299 and we will be happy to help.

As always, we hope to hear from you soon and look forward to assisting with your next print project!

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