Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 11, 2009

Picture Book Layout


I have noticed a lot of picture book lay out templates on the Internet.  Most say a picture book text starts on Page 3, so I thought I would clarify this for the new writers who are just starting out writing picture books.   Before I get to that please note, that no one expects you to illustrate your own book and no one expects you to find your own illustrator (the publisher with handle that for you), but it doesn’t hurt to lay out the text as you think it would flow, even if you draw some stick figures.

The standard picture book is 32 pages. It is the text or the amount of visuals in the story that dictates how each picture book is laid out. The text can start on page 3 or can start all the way up on page 8. 

This doesn’t mean that an illustrator doesn’t do any artwork for those non-story pages.  It just means as a writer your book will need to have at least 24 pages of story text. So what goes on those non-story pages?  Usually there is a copyright page, a dedication page and two end pages.  But if the publisher needs more room for the text, they can put the copyright and dedication page on one page.

Use the boxes below to lay out your text.  This is a good way to see if your story has too many visuals or too little. Remember, editors do not like paragraphs of text on a page.Illustrators like to do double spreads (one picture for two pages – notice the red arrows). This way they can cut down on the amount of artwork needed for a book, but it doesn’t mean that each book will lend itself to this approach. Your book may require single pictures on pages. The illustrator and art director will figure this step out.


Note:  Illustrators refer to the place where the two pages meet as the gutter. If you are an illustrator, you want to keep important parts of the picture and the text out of the gutters. 


Have fun,  Kathy


  1. […] Once they decide on an illustrator, a contract is drawn up between the illustrator and publisher containing details of due dates, royalties, etc.  If you don’t have an agent working with you on this it is a good idea to have an IP, (intelectual property) attorney take a look at it for you.  Once all the legal stuff is out of the way the illustrator starts sketching and preparing a sketch “dummy” of the book.  It’s a rough mini-version of the book page layout.  This helps to see how the book flows from page to page and helps in laying out color and text position.  Make sure to check with the publisher for specifics on the book size dimensions and how many pages, etc.  Typically that is around 28-32 pages with between 500-800 words for a picture book, (max is 1000).  Rough sketches of the page spreads are submitted to the publisher first before any color work is started.  Once you get the go-ahead on the sketches, it’s time to add the color.  Here is a bit more information and sample layout of the pages for a picture book from Kathy Temean’s blog. […]


  2. This is great info Kathy. I hope you don’t mind that I just added it to my blog post on Picture Books – “The Illustrator’s Process” at


    • Happy that you found it useful. Kathy


  3. […] on each spread and also the front and back covers.  I will put the roughs together following the page sequence  that they are to appear in the book.  This small mini version of the book is called a book dummy […]


  4. Hello,
    Quick question: Are pages 1 and 32 the front and back covers or are they the inside covers or blank pages? Please help.

    K. Lee


    • K. Lee,

      The front and back cover does not count in the 32 page count. Open a few picture books, you will see that each is a little different. Some may not have any blank pages, while other may have a blank page at the beginning and/or end. All have a title page and usually a separate page for the copuright information. It depends on how the books has to be laid out.
      Check back next week on May 15th. I have a detailed post about making a picture book dummy, there might be information to help you in that. In the meantime, go to the library and look at a dozen picture books and you will see what I mean.



  5. Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this site daily, this web site is in fact fastidious and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.


  6. Thank you for the layout, and guidance. However, I’m not sure what you mean by “paragraphs of text on a page”. Are you saying that editors prefer lines of text on a page rather than paragraphs, similar to the text layout of a poem?


    • If you look at a picture book, you will see most have a few words or at the most a few sentences on a page. So the text and the illustrations work together. Even if your picture book is a poem, you will need to break down the text to fit the pages of the book. That is why it is important to try laying it out on your own to get a feel for how it would flow.When you submit the story, you do not have to worry about the layout. You just want to try to stay under 500 words for the story. Of course, there are always exceptions and some picture books can go up to a thousand word, but today editors are looking for short.


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