How to design your picture book layout

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing picture books, it’s that a writer must think visually. Well, duh! They’re picture books right?

It seems so obvious, but as a writer who doesn’t illustrate, it’s easy to get carried away with words and forget how things will look on the page. That’s where picture book layout plans come in. They’re vital for getting your story arc down on paper, checking for balance and thinking about how the final product will look on the page.

Not only that, but picture books come in standard formats. Sending a non-standard length manuscript to an editor or agent will mark you out as an amateur. Typically, picture books for younger children come in a 24-page format and those for 3-5s in a 32-page format.

But not all those pages are usable – there’s the cover, the title pages, the end papers. The end result is, you’re left with a mere 9 spreads to play with for a 24-page book.

For a 32-page book you get just 13 spreads. You may get away with writing into the end papers, but if you’re a newbie it’s good to go with the standard layout.

I find sketching out my story on a layout plan helps me think visually.

Is the story dynamic enough?

Does it move around and have scope for interesting illustrations?

Are there cliffhangers?

Where do the page breaks come in?  Am I making best use of the right hand pages and creating suspense before turning the page?

Is it balanced?

Is there enough happening on each spread? Too much? Is there clear action that can be illustrated?

Do you use layout templates to plan your picture books?

Download my templates here:

24 page picture book layout template

32 page picture book layout template

One thought on “How to design your picture book layout

  1. Thank you so much for this page… I am a newbie at illustrating books… I have always dreamed of doing it…and now have two editors that asked me to do one… eeeeek… so thank you for this… !!!!!

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