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Using a book template cover image

Using Book Templates: Advantages & Disadvantages

Using a book template cover image

What is a book template?

There are two different types of book templates: story templates and layout templates.

A story template, or plot template, is essentially an outline for your book. Freytag’s pyramid (sometimes called a plot pyramid) is easily the most famous story template: Exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement.

A book layout template, or manuscript template, includes all the formatting and styles that affect the way your book looks on the page. There are layout templates for formatting your manuscript in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Adobe InDesign, Pages, and pretty much any other word processor you might use.

Many self-publishing platforms like Lulu, IngramSpark, and BookBaby also include ready-to-use layout templates. These also help you format your book’s front matter, which includes the copyright and title pages, book dedication, introduction, prologue, etc.

Do you have to use a book template?

No. Many writers don’t use them, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt to use either one. In this post, we’ll examine the pros and cons of using templates for your writing and book design.

Story and plot templates

Story templates operate a lot like outlines. Book outlines can help you keep the overall plot structure and subplots organized and can help you break through writer’s block. 

There are an endless number of ways to outline your novel and manage your storylines. Here is a list of our favorites

Should you use a story template?

Advantages Disadvantages
A template can help you begin the writing process. When you know where you’re going, it’s easier to start. Story templates essentially prescribe a plot for your book, which can make it hard to deviate from traditional story structures.
Manuscript templates can show you new ways to tell your story. You can try structures like the hero’s journey, the story circle, the three-act plot, or the seven-point story. Your story structure may change organically as you write and revise your book. You may decide in the third draft that you want to begin with the climax, then tell the rest of the story in chronological order.
Story templates can help you break writer’s block. If you’re not sure where to go next, the template can tell you.
If you struggle with organization, a story template can keep you on track and help ensure a reader can follow your story.

Where to find a story template

There are plenty of software options to help you outline your book. Some of the most popular are:

Book layout templates

Book layout templates are ideal for people who aren’t natural designers. However, they can limit your creative vision for the project.

Should you use a layout template?

Advantages Disadvantages
If you’re not a designer, aren’t tech-savvy, or don’t want to fiddle with the idiosyncrasies of formatting it all yourself, a layout template can save you a lot of time and headache. Because they’re templates, you’ll be restricted by how much you can change fonts, text size, margins, and colors. 
Many manuscript templates include templates for the front and back covers too, so it’s a one-stop design shop. If you use nontraditional formatting (if you’re a poet, for example) some templates can restrict how much you can change the way text looks on the page.
Layout templates help you avoid formatting problems with orphaned words and rivers in the text, and let you introduce literary flourishes like drop caps and unique section breaks. If you want to add photos, drawings, illustrations, charts, or anything else other than text, you may be limited to the template’s formatting restrictions.
If you use a popular template, you may find that the cover of your book is very similar to the cover of someone else’s.

Where to find a book layout template

You can find both manuscript and layout templates downloadable online. Some writing software comes with preloaded templates. StoryShare and Ulysses will help you format the interior of your book, and sites like Lulu and Canva have templates you can use to design the outside of your book.

If you don’t want to bother with tinkering with a layout template yourself, you can find book designers on platforms like Fiverr, Reedsy, or Upwork. Want to try designing the cover on your own? Check out our guide to creating a best-selling book cover.

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