Religion of the Samurai | Skillshare Projects



Religion of the Samurai

I decided to work with a Project Gutenberg book, The Religion of the Samurai; both due to interest in the subject matter and curiosity to see how how a non-fiction book might turn out. In going through the project I've gained massive respect for the amount of effort required to design a book. Fun in a kind of strange and sublime way!

Here's the final PDF version for print. Screenshots of the process follow.

Edit: Second PDF version with Neil's suggestions incorporated. Cleared some paragraph indents, re-styled the back matter, and now the book is 304 pages without the original ad card. 

I wasn't sure at first what typeface to work with for the work, as it's focused on eastern Philosophy, but I opted for a humanist typeface, Adobe Jenson, for the bulk of the text. For the title page I decided to work with Chinese characters (using Bushido for the cover, as Zen would have been redundant with the chapter openings), and found a typeface, STXingkai which had a calligraphic feel to it. Turns out the roman alphabet in that typeface also has a brush style to it as well, so that formed the book title and is used in the first paragraph drop-caps.

This book has a massive number of footnotes (more on that later) so I opted to keep the running head to the top only. The image below also illustrates the overall paragraph styling and sub-section styles.

The original manuscript had all the footnotes inside the body of the text, which was ballooning the book to over 600 (final count is 304) pages. The nerdy part of me loved that GREP was useful for saving time in the process of turning everything into a proper footnote. Some were huge and spanned across multiple pages, which made for some interesting issues when adjusting page formats (tracking and such). 

For opening chapter pages I experimented with a handful of options:

The final I settled on was like the above, but with the character shifted between the chapter number and running head, which felt more balanced (also you can see the drop-cap styling here).

For consistenency of styles between the chapter openings and other similar elements I also used the same paragraph rules in the TOC.

It took an impressive amount of experimentation after the initial styling was done to clean up the main body text, paragraphs, and placement of other elements like the subheadings. I think it took three or four attempts to get the page count right (at first I forgot that the front matter wasn't counted in the page numbering). While one of the recommended methods was to play with +/- one line master pages that doesn't seem to help much when the document has footnotes (at least when there is a specified minimum distance). But I got lucky and after adjusting footnote distances a bunch I found a layout that allowed for a clean flow of text that avoided forced page and line breaks.

Getting the right page count was by far the hardest part of the project, but it felt amazing once I got it to work!

I didn't do a ton with the backmatter formatting, and kept it close to the same as the copyright page (centered alignment, etc.). Probably the area that could use the most improvement.

After adjusting the back-matter to span another page or two I was still one page short of 304. So I created a simple ad card highlighting the top 20 most downloaded Project Gutenberg e-books (with a paragraph rule for fun).

I had formatted an e-book with inDesign before, but this project showed me how much more there is to learn about the program (GREP, using tabs, paragraph rules, print vs. digital formatting, etc.). The art of styling a proper novel was new to me, so this class was quite fascinating and I have a much greater appreciation for (and interest in!) the craft of book layout and design. 

Highly likely that I'll be doing more of these with other Gutenberg books, until I have my own written at least. ;)


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