Typesetting: The Story of Tracy Beaker


I set up a new document on InDesign with the following measurements:

129mmx198mm 1
5mm bleed and slug
20mm margin

Once I had a new document, I entered the text The Story of Tracy Beaker.

The first thing I noticed about the text was the lack of character and paragraph styles. I entered breaks between the titles, subtitles and main bodies of text to clearly see where the different pieces of text were and where to make the character and paragraph styles. I created character styles for the title and subtitles – bold Georgia. I also positioned them to the centre of the page. I made the title 18pt and the subtitle 14pt. I created a paragraph style for the main body – regular Georgia at 14pt. I think this sizing is appropriate for the audience – 7-10 year olds. The type needs to be easy to read and not be confusing when finishing one line and continuing onto the next line. At first, I changed the font to Charis SIL Compact, but I decided to change it back to the original – Georgia.


First of all, I corrected all of the typos, quotations, hyphens, ellipsis, spaces and other grammatical errors. This was done by thoroughly reading the text with a closer up view than I would normally use in order to clearly see the hidden characters – often the space marks can be difficult to see from a zoomed out view – especially the double spaces. I also ensured that the paragraph breaks were all equal between each paragraph. Once the grammar was thoroughly edited, I noticed the sentence beginners – some were bold and some were not. I decided I liked the bold type and chose to keep it to reinforce where new subjects began. The text is little snippets of information and I think this reflects this and even helps make it easier to read. For example:


I made this into a character style called “bold words” and ensured that this was applied to each new subject. This was a typesetting feature applied throughout the whole of the text.
What else I noticed was, the word “zap” which was repeated and I also made this into bold to emphasis it and add some animation to the text. I remember this being a feature I saw frequently when I read books of this target demographic.


I did this first before adding in any illustrations. By doing this, I could easily see the paragraph breaks which made it easier to see where the different images would go. I got ideas of image placements as I went through the text and edited it. I found the editing quite enjoyable. I was a big Jacqueline Wilson fan when I was younger and I loved Tracy Beaker, so I found it quite nostalgic to read through and edit it for myself. Especially being a children’s book, I found it quite easy to manage and change around sentences where necessary to make sure that the text read smoothly and made sense.

(NOTE – For the illustrations, I opened each image in Photoshop, edited them to grayscale and 300dpi and, where necessary, I cropped individual illustrations from one image to separate them. I then saved each file as TIF ready to be placed in InDesign. Once placed in InDesign, I right-clicked on the illustration and ensured that they were being viewed in the highest quality.)


Page 1


This is the title page placed at the very beginning of the book. I actually added this last into the document after I had finished the typesetting. I did this simply by adding in a page before page 1 to create a new first page.

Pages 2-3


This is the first double page spread. Page 2 is blank and on page 3 is the frontispiece. It has the illustration of the front cover printed in grayscale with the author and illustrator named below.

Pages 4-5


I placed the picture of Tracy between the chapter title and the beginning of the text to introduce the character. The image positioned here will enhance the readers’ imagination and help them to know exactly how Tracy looks. The chapter opens underneath with the first line in bold. This makes the sentence stand out – we know exactly who Tracy is. I ensured that the image was placed right in the centre of the page which is indicated by a purple guide line. I continued the text and placed paragraph breaks between each new paragraph. I placed the illustration of Peter Ingham on the bottom right of the page next to the place in the text that he is mentioned. I kept within the guides and did not run into the margin. This positioning on the page makes it easy for the reader to see as it is close to the edge of the page and the sizing does not distract or take away from the page’s main illustration of Tracy.

Pages 6-7


This is the first double page spread with text and illustrations typeset. The first illustration is of Tracy as a baby – this is placed underneath where this is mentioned in the text. It introduces some humour and breaks up the text on the page a little. The height and weight have underscores after them to mimic that how it would look in a diary or another about me-style book. I think this adds a nice effect to the reader as if they were actually reading Tracy’s diary and this is where she would need to fill in the information. On page 7, I placed the eyes underneath the eye paragraph in the middle of the page. Again, I was careful to follow the guidelines to ensure that it was positioned directly in the middle of the page. The following paragraph was interesting and it is quite animated. I wanted to portray this through the illustrations used. I positioned the mouse next to where mentioned in the text – keeping the image small – just like a mouse. I think this fits in well with the context that she is talking about Peter. I made each repetition of “ZAP” bold capitals to emphasis them. I used the zig-zag style box to place a “ZAP” inside and use this as an illustration. I did this on Photoshop, saved the image as a TIF and placed onto the page the same as the other illustrations. The next illustration of Tracy, is positioned next to where she is talking about her appearance. She mentions that her hair sticks up in different directions and this illustration fits in well with this paragraph. I slightly moved the text around in this area – I moved the sentence about pulling a funny face to where she talks about her hair. I think this fits better in this position and it references the illustration used in this position.

Pages 8-9


Page 8 has the space-related illustrations as they are mentioned in the text above. I spread the image accordingly to fit the guides of the margin on the bottom of the page. I think the position of this image flows well with the justified text – it looks very neat, tidy and well-structured. I used the same structure idea for page 9. I made the first sentence bold as it was a new topic and I made sure that this was a consistent feature. I used the frame/border image here for the reader to put in a picture of themselves on the page. This, again, adds structure to the page and keeps it looking tidy and organised – the reader has lines to follow to ensure that they have a guide on where to stick their image. I think that this is a good feature to the typesetting. It also breaks up the text as a whole in the first paragraph and adds even more imagery and this fits the target audience – too much text and not enough illustrations would get boring for them. This ends the chapter on a different note, too, and makes way for a new chapter and new topics.

Pages 10-11


Page 10 is a new chapter, therefore, the typesetting of the previous chapter needs to the exactly the same. This chapter has more details about Tracy and her life, rather just her appearance and basic information. This is where the typesetting got a little more complex. I added in the illustrations and re-sized them accordingly to how I wanted them. Either smaller or bigger. On page 10, I liked the idea of having lots of smaller illustrations dotted around the page as I hadn’t had the typesetting done quite like this on the previous pages. I carefully read the text and picked out the according ones (I cropped them into separate images on Photoshop so I could enter them on the page separately). I placed the Big Mac, French fries, milkshake, Mars Bar and Skittles along the bottom of the page. Tracy talked about them all in one sentence so I did this with the illustrations – kept them all together in a line, as if she ate them one after another. I places the birthday cake in on an angle to mix up the positioning a little bit – I think that having all of the pictures on a straight line would look too over-done and I wanted this page to be more scattered and random. I placed two Cornettos to create the random doodle-like style that would represent Tracy’s diary.

Page 11 also has scattered images – keeping with the same kind of style, but I ensures that these were all placed straight. It keeps the page looking neat and tidy whilst having lots of little images but not looking too messy. Although the spider was mentioned on the previous page, I like the positioning of it here. I think it is a good position – almost as if the spider is dangling from the top of the page. I placed Camilla within the text that she is mentioned in and I placed the make-up brushes just above the make-up paragraph to add a little space to the page. I wanted lots of little images on this page and I think this little bit of space makes it look less-crowded, less confusing and easier to follow as the text is broken up a little bit here.

Pages 12-13


Page 12 has two illustrations placed. The first being Tracy with a Rottweiler and it chasing a person off the page. I spread this illustration right across the full page as if the dog was running right across. I placed it after the mentioned paragraph. I also placed the bold character style on “WATCH OUT” to emphasise Tracy shouting this. I positioned the television illustration next to the sentence where this is talked about. The next subtitle has been positioned in the centre and styled. Just after Tracy has introduced her mum, she mentions that she brings her presents. I used the same image in three different ways. I made one copy of the present bigger than the rest of them. I then placed the same image two more times either side and made them smaller as if to mimic all of the different presents that her mum has brought her. I used the swirls to add more to the bottom of the page and this almost represents the ribbons that would be used to wrap the gifts. It adds more to the page and I purposely wanted to carry the text on to the following page.

Pages 14-15


Page 14 follows on to talk more about her mum. Tracy talks about her mum being pretty and then make a reference to a picture. I slightly reorganised the text. I put together: “This was when I was a baby. See, I was sweet then. And this is my mum. She’s ever so pretty” to make the text more concise and this was a well-fitting sentence to place before the image. I then placed the picture below. I made the illustration quite large and filled it across the page. I wanted to make this illustration the main point of the page. Compared to the rest of the previous pages, I wanted to make this page more text-orientated with just one big illustration. On page 15, there is just one small illustration of a house in which Tracy talks about not knowing where her mum lives – but this is what Tracy imagines her mum’s house to be like. Next, Tracy talks about her Foster Family – she mentions that this wasn’t a good experience and therefore this section is text-based. She says at the end that she didn’t want to talk about it. Therefore, I left this section of the story relatively illustration-free, but I added some images onto the next page in which she continues talking about her family experiences.

Pages 16-17


On page 16, the same text continues. I made another part of the text bold to add the same emphasis as I used previously. I made the sentence “THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN” bold and kept this in capitals – similar to the “ZAP”s as previously mentioned. I ended this paragraph here and started a new one as she then develops the story and says that she is in a new children’s home. I ended this section of the text here and added another illustration. I used this image of Tracy looking somewhat scared and upset. This reflects her emotions when she talks about her foster family experiences and that they didn’t go well. I positioned the image off-centre and slightly to the left. I did this because, sometimes in a book, when things are placed too closely to the spine, they can be difficult to see and I didn’t want this to happen – I wanted the emotions of Tracy to come across and this way, the full image can be clearly seen. Page 17 follows the same layout as the previous sticking page and I made a conscious effort to do so. The border adds dimension to the page and gives something extra.

Pages 18-19


On page 18 and 19, Tracy talks about her school and what she likes. On page 18, Tracy talks about her teacher, Miss Brown. I placed the illustration of her next to that paragraph on the right-hand side. I kept this side of the spread quite minimal in terms on illustrations as I wanted page 19 to be more illustration-orientated, especially because she talks about art. I placed the painting of Tracy and her friends to represent what she painted in class along with the paint pots a bit further down. I positioned the gold stars around the text to make use of the space on the page and to add more dimension as page 18 is quite structured with the flow of text and the one image.

Pages 20-21


Page 20 is just text with a new subtitle half-way to separate the text a little.  On page 21, I placed the illustrations of the bunk beds, Mickey Mouse clock and the burger within the text. I tilted the clock on an angle to add more movement to the page as I wanted to get the most out of the small illustrations on the page. The text flows well around the image which creates a nice effect without taking away the easiness of the reading. I placed the burger further down. I was also conscious here about ensuring that there wasn’t any orhpans/widows carried onto the next page from the end of this one.

Pages 22-23


I ensured that there were paragraph breaks between each new topic as done with the other pages. I placed this illustration at the end as I thought it fitted very well with the chapter ending and Tracy wanting to sign off. I placed it in the middle of the page using the guidelines. I put some paragraph breaks in between this and “WHAT’S ON THE NEXT PAGE?” due it being a sentence standing alone and I also applied the character style which I used on the subtitles throughout the text to make it stand out on the page. I think this will make the reader eager to find out what happens next in The Story of Tracy Beaker.



Page numbers were the last things that I entered into the document. I did this by placing them onto the master pages so they will continue onto the rest of the document.

After doing this, I ensured that the typesetting on each page was up to a publishable standard and nothing had changed and there were no widows or orphans in the text.


At first, I wasn’t sure when was a good time to justify all of the text or fit this into the main body paragraph style. I decided that, after applying the images, I worked around what I thought looked best on each page. I found that if I justified all of the text, then some of the typesetting I had already done and liked got moved and changed and I didn’t want this to happen. I managed to justify all of the text in the end – par a few smaller paragraphs and I think this still looks good as it is barely noticeable due to the layout on the page. In some instances, I had to re-tweak the positioning of the images. For example, if the text got pushed down a couple of lines due to the justifying, then I had to move down the images accordingly so it looked just as it did before.

Once the typesetting was done and I was happy, I packaged it ready to print.


Things I Found Difficult and What I Would Do Next Time

The thing that I found most difficult about this typesetting task was the way that things move around when you place something new in. For example, if I were to place a new picture near the beginning of the document, then everything placed below will also move. And when this happened, I had to go and move everything back where it was. Luckily, I already knew that this happens in InDesign and I planned a majority of it ahead. I made a mental note of where I wanted each image to go on the page and the text also helped with indicating this, too. There were a couple of instances when I had to add in things on pages near the beginning when I had already added things in. It happened with the picture of the food that Aunty Peggy made, Camilla, and the picture of Miss Brown. I had to re-shuffle things around at this point (these were some of the last pictures I placed) but fortunately, it wasn’t too stressful and I managed to quickly move things down slightly and I knew exactly how I had things placed.

Next time, I think I would plan even further. I would go as far as making quick notes on paper about each spread and what and how many images need to go on them. This would prevent any unwanted movements of objects when placing in new items. Overall, I think that this would save time further down the line.

What I Learnt

I found the overall task really enjoyable and because I already know that I like the design aspect of publishing, this was a really good opportunity to work independently and gain experience of doing a typesetting task that I could get asked to do when at work. The opportunity gave me a chance to put into practice what I have learnt in class, and with my own eye for detail and design, produce a part of a book that is up to publishable standard.