For this experiment we looked at ‘General Fiction’ in a bookstore. This category excluded romance, sci-fi, fantasy, young adult and westerns. We were not too concerned about breaking this down further as the sort of things we were looking at were not too specific, with the possible exception of artwork.
So what did we look for?
- Did the books have headers?
- Were the headers in the same font and style as the text?
- Did they indent the first line after spaces?
- Were the chapters titled (as well as or in place of a number)?
- Was there artwork with chapter headings?
We also looked at line spacing, at least to the naked eye, and found 100% of books surveyed were single spaced. There was therefore, we thought, no need to go deeper into that.
Did the books have headers?
Were the headers in the same style as the text?
Did they indent the first line after spaces?
Were the chapters titled?
Was there artwork with chapter headings?
Well, there are limitations. The sample size was large, but it covered a few different genres. The general message stayed true throughout - headers are optional, don't indent after a space, and numbered chapters are safe. Beyond this it would be a good idea for an author to look at just the books in their area. For example, artwork and titled chapter headings were more popular in historical fiction. Thrillers, on the other hand, tended to be very minimalist with just numbered chapters and no art.
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