Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

Style Choices Authors Should Know About Children’s Picture Books

4 min read

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to deciding the style and look to a children's book

The design of the book is an important decision because this determines how the reader will experience the book and where their eyes will follow the flow of the story.

Knowing how the book is going to be designed is going to help form the direction of your illustrations as well.

You should be asking yourself these questions:

  • Is my book going to be in a portrait or landscape format?

  • Are my illustrations going to be single-paged or full-spread?

  • Am I creating activities or special facts to be included in the back of the book?

  • What is my page count going to be? (24, 32, 40, or 48 pages)

  • Am I going to have a separate page of text or is the text going to be somewhere on the illustrations?

Once you have answered these questions about your children’s picture book, you now need to decide on the types of illustrations that will be showcased throughout your book.

There are different types of illustrations that are used in children’s picture books.

By this, I’m referring to how the illustration is presented to the reader. And this usually goes hand in hand with deciding where you want the reader's eye to move around the page. For example, do you need the reader's eye focused on the character first and then the thought bubble of what he is thinking about?

Considering how the text and the illustrations lead the reader is crucial to creating a great reading experience.

Types of Illustrations

2- Page Illustrations

This is an illustration that spread across both pages, and often includes the text somewhere on your illustration. If you decide to include some of these (you don’t have to have every page this way), be sure to leave extra space to fit the text.

Full-Page Illustrations

These are typically illustrations that cover the whole page and are located on the right-hand page of the book. If you are mixing up the types of illustrations that you are including in your book, then consider placing 4 to 6 of these throughout the book.

Spot Illustrations

In cases where there are only 1 to 2 sentences that don’t require a full-page illustration, a spot illustration will accompany it. They are typically along on the page or included on a page with other post illustrations.

And the great part about these various types of illustrations is that you can mix them up and use a few or all of these throughout the book.

Other features that should be considered in addition to illustrations are the design elements such as font and margins.

Design Features to Consider

Book Cover

This should be a colorful and eye-catching cover that appeals to your target audience.

The author should also be sure that even in the thumbnail, the title should be readable from further away as well. But as for the back cover, there should be a short description, one to three sentences is all you need.

As for the design of the cover, you can have a separate design for the front and back or a continuous spread that stretches from front to back.


Once your cover and illustrations are complete, the best thing you can do for yourself is to test out the types of fonts that work best with them.

The best thing you can do is choose a few and place them next to your illustrations and see which one looks best. Once you narrow down your options, be sure to ask someone else for their opinion as well. Be sure you choose one that is easy to read.


Be sure when creating your illustrations that you don’t place important features near the edges of the page, as they may be cut off in the gutter when the book is formatted. The same is true for text.


Picture books work best when there is a consistent color palette throughout the book.

Be sure to stick with the same colors and keep a cohesive look, which is also true to the types of illustrations you include and the text.

Once you have come up with a product you are happy with, the next step is to test it out on others.

Show your picture book to kids and adults. Ask them what draws their eyes to each page and this can help you determine if your illustration and design choices worked the way you intended them to.