Choosing a Trim Size
By Amy Groening

Trim size refers to the dimensions of a book after it has been printed and cut down (trimmed) to its desired height and width. Some writers have a specific trim size in mind when approaching the publishing process. That is a great starting point for this discussion. I say starting point, because your desired trim size may not translate into the overall result that you had in mind. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Choosing Your Trim Size

The trim size is one component of the final dimensions of the book, with the other factor being the page count. The smaller the book size chosen for a specific manuscript, the less text will fit per page and the more pages the book will be. So, if it’s important to you that your book looks substantial, you may want go with a smaller sized book. Or, if you would like to reduce your printing costs, a slightly larger trim size could help with that.

Certain trim sizes are more popular for different genres and audiences of readers—novels (both young adult and adult), picture books, etc. For example, both young adult and adult novels, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, the most popular trim size is 5.5” x 8.5”. Other common trim sizes include 5″ × 7″, 5″ × 8″, and 6″ × 9″.

Picture books work a bit differently. If you are writing a children’s book, a more generous trim size would better showcase the illustrations for the child’s delight. The most common trim sizes for a children’s book are 8″ × 8″ and 8.5” x 8.5”. Other popular sizes are 7.5” x9.25”, 7” x 10”, 8”x 10”, and 8.5” x 11”.

It’s important to take into consideration what your printing budget is when you pick a trim size. Most printers consider books with the trim size 7” x 10” and up to be “large” books, which usually cost more than medium or small-sized books (ones in the 8.5” x 8.5”, 8” x 8”, and 7.5” x 9.25” category).

While an offset press can print books of a wide variety of sizes, a unique trim size may not be best the best choice for your book. Many people find it surprising that a significant number of books that are sold via Ingram (through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) are printed via a print on demand printer. On-demand printers (including Espresso book machines) limit the trim sizes they offer, so if you are wanting to have your book available as widely as possible, make sure you pick a trim size that is compatible!

Fun Fact: Did you know that some trim sizes are only available in black and white or softcover? When you’re choosing a trim size ask yourself:

  • Do I want my book to be in hardcover? Or softcover?
  • What about in color? Or black or white
  • What is my intention for how my readers will use my book?
  • Should it be pocket-sized, so you can carry it with you everywhere?
    *Am I envisioning it being read to a big classroom of Sunday School students? If so, then it should be bigger so that they can see the pictures and text more clearly.

One of the best ways to make sure that you are choosing the best trim size for your project, is to talk to us. We would be happy to tell you about the trim sizes available, and more importantly, provide you with advice on the best option for your project.

About this Contributor:

Amy Groening is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She enjoys many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cat committing random acts of feline crime.

Leave a comment