Book Printing
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Coffee Table Book Sizes: A Comprehensive Guide


Morgan Crockett

Because there are so many options available when it comes to coffee table book sizes, it's difficult to know where to turn for the right answer for your book. We'll show you how.

architecture coffee table book sizing example on a desk

Because there are so many options available when it comes to coffee table book sizes, it's difficult to know where to turn for the right answer. Should you choose the most economical size so that you can lower your per book cost? The most unique size to help your design stand out? The most utilitarian size so that you can fit a specific type of content on the page? You have to take into account all of these considerations to choose the perfect size for your book, and we are going to show you how.

The Basics

In order to understand some of the nuances of choosing a size for your coffee table book, it will be helpful to learn a few common printing terms. This will ultimately help you choose the best dimensions for your book.

Trim Size

Trim size refers to the final dimensions of a printed book after it has been trimmed along the edges of the book block. In book printing, multiple pages are typically printed "16-up" or "32-up" on larger sheets or rolls of paper. Then they are folded and trimmed down to the trim size during the production process.

The trim size determines the physical dimensions of the book, including its width and height. Note: For hardcover books, the trim size is determined by measuring width x height of the interior pages, usually in inches (i.e. 10'' x12''). For softcover books, the cover is usually the same width and height of the interior pages.


The gutter is the inner margin or space between the printed area of a page and the binding. It's essentially the area where the pages are bound together. The gutter ensures that the text or images near the center of the book, where the pages meet, remain readable and unaffected by the binding process.

Often beginner book designers make the mistake to make both the gutter and the outer margin the same width. Advanced designers plan for more space in the gutter to account for the book binding.


In book printing, margins refer to the blank space surrounding the text or images on a page. These spaces are intentionally left empty to provide breathing room, enhance readability, and improve the overall aesthetic appeal of the book.

You will want to carefully consider the size of your margins based on factors such as the book's trim size, paper type, binding method, and design preferences. While margins can vary depending on these factors, they typically range from half an inch to an inch on all sides of the page.


Binding is the process of assembling the individual sheets or signatures of a book into a single volume. Binding not only holds the pages together but also protects them and gives the book its final form. There are many different binding styles for coffee table books, but the most common tried and true method is hardcover smythe sewn binding.

Which binding method you choose depends on factors such as the book's intended use, page count, budget, and aesthetic preferences. Each has its advantages and considerations in terms of cost, durability, and overall appearance.

Ok! Now that you have some basic terminology out of the way, you are ready to jump in.

Start by Zooming Out

It's easy to get lost in the weeds when you first start designing a coffee-table book. One of the most important things you can do before you get overwhelmed with the design process, is to take a step back and look at the book as a whole.

What type of content are you going to include? Are there any photos that demand a lot of space on the page? Does the book have a narrative that needs to be included throughout? Are there captions? Running footers or headers?

Oftentimes books that focus on highlighting architecture, food, or art need more space on the page due to the type of photography. This would help you decide to go with a larger trim size.

Once you have a good idea about the core aspects of the book, then you are ready to jump into picking a trim size.

Interior design and architecture books often require a lot of space on the page.

Standard Trim Sizes

There are a few common coffee table book sizes that you would find if you went and grabbed a book off the shelf at your local Barnes and Noble. 8" x 10" size is a popular choice, offering a balance between accessibility and elegance.

Its moderate dimensions make it suitable for a wide range of projects, from photo albums to recipe collections. The 9" x 12" format provides a bit more room to showcase your content, making it ideal for projects that require larger images or more detailed layouts.

By understanding these standard sizes, you'll have a solid starting point for determining the dimensions of your coffee table book.

Oversized Formats

For projects that demand attention and impact, oversized formats offer an excellent solution. The 11" x 14" size, with its expansive dimensions, allows for stunning panoramic spreads and immersive visuals.

This format is particularly well-suited for art books, architecture portfolios, and travel photography collections. Meanwhile, the 12" x 16" format takes things a step further, providing even more space for creativity and expression.

With its larger canvas, this size is perfect for projects that require bold, eye-catching layouts and designs. Explore these oversized formats and consider how they can elevate your coffee table book to new heights.

picture of a beautiful coffee table book on a coffee table in a sunlit room
Oversized formats create a much more impactful page layout.

Square Layouts

Square trim sizes have become increasingly popular in recent years for their contemporary look and feel. The 10" x 10" size, for example, offers symmetry and balance, making it an excellent choice for showcasing fashion photography, interior design projects, and art installations.

Its square format lends itself well to dynamic layouts and compositions, allowing you to create visually striking pages that draw the reader in.

a square format photography coffee table book on a rustic wooden desk
Square dimensions are more uncommon, which can help set your coffee table book apart from others.

Similarly, the 12" x 12" format provides ample space for creative experimentation, allowing you to explore unique design elements and innovative page layouts. Dive into the world of square layouts and discover how they can add a modern and stylish touch to your coffee table book.

Custom Sizing

Finally, consider the option of custom sizing to tailor your coffee table book to your exact specifications. With custom dimensions, you have the flexibility to experiment with non-traditional shapes and sizes, allowing you to create a book that's truly unique.

Whether you're looking to create a pocket-sized album or an oversized art book, custom sizing gives you the freedom to bring your creative vision to life. Keep in mind that custom sizing may require additional production considerations and costs, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

photography book laying on a coffee table in a grey room with subdued lighting
If the content of your book requires more custom sizing, the best printers are able to accommodate this at an affordable price-point.

Quick Reference Guide

To help you see what options you have when it comes to coffee table book sizes, here's a quick list:

  • 8" x 10": This size offers a classic and versatile layout, suitable for a wide range of projects such as photography collections, travel journals, and recipe books. It strikes a balance between accessibility and elegance.
  • 9" x 12": Slightly larger than the standard size, this format provides more room to showcase detailed imagery and elaborate layouts. It's ideal for projects that require a higher level of visual detail, such as art books and architecture portfolios.
  • 10" x 10": The square format adds a modern and stylish touch to coffee table books. With its symmetrical layout, this size is perfect for fashion photography, interior design showcases, and art installations.
  • 11" x 14": Moving into oversized formats, this size allows for panoramic spreads and immersive visuals. It's well-suited for projects that demand attention and impact, such as large-scale photography collections and travel guides.
  • 12" x 12": Another square format option, this size offers ample space for creative experimentation. It's great for showcasing artwork, illustrations, and graphic designs in a dynamic and engaging layout.
  • 12" x 16": With its larger canvas, this size provides even more room for creativity and expression. It's perfect for bold, eye-catching layouts and designs, making it ideal for art books, coffee table albums, and architecture portfolios.
  • 9" x 9": A smaller square format that's perfect for compact coffee table books. It's great for showcasing personal photo albums, travel diaries, and themed collections in a charming and intimate layout.
  • 8.5" x 11": This standard letter size offers a familiar and practical layout for coffee table books. It's commonly used for academic publications, historical retrospectives, and corporate portfolios.
  • 11" x 8.5": A landscape-oriented format that provides a more common perspective for coffee table books. It's well-suited for panoramic photography, architectural studies, and nature exploration guides.

Wrap Up

Hopefully you now have a deeper understanding of coffee table book sizes and how they can impact your book design project. By reviewing standard sizes, exploring oversized formats, experimenting with square layouts, and knowing about custom sizing, you have the tools to choose the perfect dimensions for your coffee table book.

Remember to take into account factors such as content, audience, and design aesthetic when making your decision.

With careful planning and attention to detail, you'll create a coffee table book that captivates and inspires your audience for years to come.

If you need help deciding on your coffee table book size, contact us and we would be happy to help.

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