Anatomy of a 32 Page Picture Book

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I was 5 months into editing Champ and Nessie when I learned that picture books are almost always 32 pages. I never realized that. Rookie move! Our book initially was written as a chapter book, it wasn’t meant to be a picture book, or story book. After some very hard developmental edits, (and a reveal of the most amazing cover design!) we decided to take C&N in a different direction. After seeing C&N in full color, we knew it had to be a story book! As a result, I ended up learning a lot of things the hard way. But with that being said, we couldn’t be happier with the finished product!


The reason most picture books are always 32 pages is physical: when you fold paper, eight pages folds smoothly into what’s called a signature, while any more results in a group of pages too thick to bind nicely. In addition, the 32 pages can all be printed on a single sheet of paper, making it cost-effective. In rare cases, picture books may be 16, 24, 40 or 48 pages, all multiples of eight (a signature). You may see board books at 16 or 24 pages, and picture books at 32, 40 or 48 pages. But the standard for picture books is 32 pages.

When thinking about the page layout for a picture book story, there are two options. You can look at each page separately, or you can talk about double-page spreads; when a picture book is opened flat, the two facing pages are often illustrated as one. Therefore, in a 32 page book, you would have a single page (the right hand side of the book), fifteen double-page spreads, and a single page (the left hand side of the book). It can be very confusing if you are new to the picture book author scene, so I created a fun and colorful 32 page picture book layout using Canva. This helped me so much. I formatted C&N using Pages and Adobe Pro, it was so easy having the layout printed and hanging right in front of me to reference.

Within the 32 pages, the first pages contain front matter of the book, consisting of a title page, a copyright page and dedication. Depending on the length of your story, you can combine the copyright and dedication on one page. I have even seen books combine the biography, copyright and dedication together if they need more room for the story and illustration. The end pages of the book will be for your biography, or for example, if your story has a map or you want to have information about your website or promote other books you have published. In single pages, this may take 4-5 pages. (C&N is a single page layout). In double-page spreads, it’s the first single page and one or two spreads. The text, then has 27-28 pages or 14 spreads, plus a last single page. Do what is best for your story, there is no right or wrong way.

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