8 Things To Avoid When Designing A Photo Book

by | Dec 24, 2019 | How To, Tips and Tricks

One of the main reasons why people make photo books (besides to free up their device memory) is because they (photo books) can make a huge impression on people. There’s just something special about printing out your photos and being able to touch, feel and really get up close to them. 

By creating a photo book, you’ll also be able to show off your precious memories in a format that everyone can understand – making it easy to share your moments with your grandparents, young children or any of your friends or family who are less tech-savvy or digitally disinclined. In addition, when you’re sharing a photo book, you also avoid the risk of having your friends and family either seeing something they’re not supposed to or accidentally deleting your photos or minimising the gallery.

Making a photo book is an enjoyable and often times, personal experience. Sure it takes a bit of time to get everything just right – from gathering your photos to arranging your book and finally getting it printed out; but once you’re holding your photo book in your hands, all those hours spent painstakingly squinting at your screen at any free moment available will be entirely worth it. Be that as it may, there’s nothing worse than receiving your photo book, only to discover that it didn’t quite live up to your expectations or looked like how you envisioned it. Therefore, we’ve prepared a list of 8 common photo book design mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when creating your very own personalised photo book.

Not Having A Central Theme or Concept

When it comes to making a photo book, people can get a little over-excited about the entire process that they end up making design mistakes that they will regret once they receive their printed books in the mail. Putting together a photo book (while incredibly fun and downright educational at times) is actually a rather time-consuming affair that needs a little bit of planning to ensure that it has a flow to it. If you don’t have a clear idea of what it is that you want to showcase, your photo book will run the risk of looking badly put together – no matter how long you’ve spent on it! 

Pro Tip: To avoid making this mistake, be sure that you have an idea on what you want your photo book to be about – be it a family history book, a travel book or a wedding anniversary book. A simple way to help come up with an idea for the photo books, as well as the flow is to organize your photos beforehand to see how the order of your photos affects the reader’s journey. 

Not Editing Photos Before Use

Most photo book making software comes with basic editing tools – things like crop, rotate and increasing/decreasing the brightness and contrast. Still, those tools can only do so much! 

If you have your own photo editing software like photoshop (the OG) or Snapseed (for mobile), not only can you get rid of that stranger in your shot, but you can also do a couple of minor enhancements, like removing that giant pimple in between your brows, getting rid of those dark circles from all those late nights binge-watching tv-series and ensuring that no one in your photo suffers from the dreaded ‘red eye’ look caused by light reflecting off those pretty peepers. 

Sure it might take a little more time before you can start putting your photo book together, but you’ll definitely be far happier with the overall results. 

Pro Tip: By using your own photo editing software, you can edit your images in batches to ensure that all photos that have similar issues (like lighting and colour contrast) are resolved in one go. 

Not Using High-Resolution Photos

How many of you have made and received a photo book, only to be disappointed when you notice that some of your photos look a little blurry? This is a common problem when you’re using photos that are imported from online galleries like Flickr or Google Photos. It might even occur when you import images from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. 

The reasons this issue occurs is because once you’ve imported the photos, they’ve already been down-sampled to a lower resolution so that the file is smaller (to be kind to your storage). This may cause the quality issue when you try to use these photos at a bigger size. 

The Pixajoy design software is smart enough to detect these issues and offer you a warning – but if you don’t have any other photos, you may still proceed to print out your book – although the images won’t look as sharp or crisp when printed. To negate this, you can try to shrink the picture boxes but in order to get the best results, you’ll definitely want to use the original images. 

Pro Tip: To ensure that your images are clear, it needs to have a minimum dot per inch (dpi) value of 200 dpi. But if you want your printed images to look their absolute best, ensure that the image resolution is at 300 dpi.

Not Uploading The Right Amount Of Photos

This is a mistake that a lot of people make – even seasoned professionals! Have you ever been in the middle of creating a photo book, only to realise that you didn’t upload enough photos for the layout that you’ve chosen? This usually ends up with you spending that much longer to look for appropriate photos to fill in the blanks. 

On the flip side, have you ever been so dead set on creating a photo book with all your photos, only to discover that the layout you choose could not support the number of photos you’ve chosen? (or if they could, it looks too crowded and throws off the overall aesthetic) and you find yourself needing to change the whole layout to accommodate them or not use the extra images at all. 

We admit if you’re somewhat new to photo bookmaking, it can be a bit hard to gauge the number of photos that you will need to make your book. It can vary depending on the size of the book that you’ve selected, the number of pages you’d like to include and the design of the layout (number of images you’d like to include per image) that you would like to use. 

What you need to do is spend a few minutes planning and deciding the layout of your book before curating your photos so that they will all fit in to give your book a harmonious feeling.

Pro Tip: If you want to use 1 or 2 images per page to get that clean, minimalistic look, you would need roughly around 40 – 80 photos at the very least. If you want to design a book that uses more intricate layouts that have 4 or 5 photos per page, you will most likely need to have about 150 photos or more.

Not Being Aware Of The Gutter Area

Sometimes a certain layout that you might find attractive on-screen will call for an image to spread from one page to another. Unless you’re planning on printing a layflat photo book, this layout design poses the risk of you putting an important part of your photograph (like a face or notable feature) into the gutter area.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the gutter area is the inside margin of your photo book – the space where the book will be bound together and ‘hidden’. While on-screen you might not notice how placing an image in the gutter area could pose a problem, but believe us when we say that by doing so, you could potentially lose some of the images when the book is printed out and put together.

Pro Tip: If you’d still like to go through with this particular type of layout, we recommend that you try using an image that does not have a face or anything else important positioned in the middle of the photo. Try using an image that has the subject placed somewhere off to the side so that it will still look good going from one page to the other without losing much of the key features of your photo subject. Alternatively, if possible you also use a filler photo – an image that is included in order to help space out the more important photos in your book or layout. 

Not Allowing For ‘Bleed’ Or Putting Text Close To The ‘Bleed’ Line

In layman’s term, the term ‘bleed’ is referring to the zone outside the trim area. Bleed allows you to run your artwork or photograph to the edge of the page so that when your book is printed out and trimmed, there will be no unprinted edges in the final product outcome.

Due to small mechanical variations, should an image or background not extend beyond the final trim size, it could end up leaving a hairline of white edges where there should be no white edge at all. This is particularly important to take note off, especially if you are planning on printing a full-page image that extends all the way to the edge of your book page. 

Additionally, you should also take note of the bleed area when you’re putting in a line of text into your photo book. Should you place your text too close to the bleed area, it can potentially be cut off – leaving you with half-formed letters that are far from being aesthetically pleasing. 

Pro Tip: To avoid making either one of these mistakes, simply leave a gap of 1/8th of an inch between anything important that you don’t want to cut off and the edge of the design.

Not Estimating The Text Size

Your device screen? It lies. There are no two ways about it. Similar to your car’s side mirrors (object in mirror may appear closer than they are), the text size (which may appear readable and reasonably sized on the screen) will be even bigger in print. It’s a common enough mistake that people make when sizing paragraph text in the software workspace or on the preview.

This overestimation can result in your book containing larger sized print than what you had first imagined. In extreme cases, it can cause your photo book to look similar to those early reader children’s book (remember Peter and Jane, anyone?).

Pro Tip: To properly estimate the size of your text before printing, opt for the 100% sized preview instead of the ‘fit to screen’ preview. It helps to give you a rough estimate of how your book will look like in print. Alternatively, you can type some sample text on a Word or Google doc document using the same font and text size and print it out.

Not Using Guides To Align Photos

When it comes to picture placement, it’s best to use a standard layout as your starting point. Unless you want your photo book to have a scrapbook effect, you should pay close attention to where you place your photos and how you align them in your book – trust us, you don’t want to throw off your nicely designed layout with a few crooked or misaligned photos.

Pro Tip: Most photo book designing software comes with rulers or guides to help you centre your photos or help to keep them in line. Some of the design software also includes multiple pre-designed layouts for you to choose from so that you don’t have to design your own layout. By using these pre-designed layouts on different pages of your book, you can experiment with the look and feel of your book without running the risk of misaligning your images.


So whether you’re looking to create a photo book for your travel memories, family history, secret recipes or even your own line of art books, spotting and preventing these common photo book design mistakes will save you a lot of heartaches. In fact, why not put these tips to the test by visiting the Pixajoy Website to create your own personalised photo books today.

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