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I'm typesetting a book which contains full page illustrations. Sometimes the illustrations fall in between the end of one chapter and the start of another:

Two consecutive 2-page spreads:
 ______  ______
|p.1   ||   p.2|
|      ||      |      Page 1: End of a chapter. Text fills perhaps half of the page.
|      ||      |      Page 2: Full page illustration.
|______||______|      Page 3: Start of a chapter, including chapter heading.
 ______  ______       Page 4: Continued chapter.
|p.3   ||   p.4|
|      ||      |
|      ||      |
|______||______|

This layout seems bring some confusion when the reader reaches the end of page 1 (a half-full page), only to find an illustration on the next page.

Is this acceptable typesetting, if not, what should be changed to rectify the issue?

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In my opinion, all chapters should always start on the right side page ... all of them.

In your example, Pg3 would be blank, unless there were additional text/images from the previous chapter overflowed to it. Leaving blank left side pages (verso) is fine. However, you should ensure you don't leave blank right side pages (recto).

This eliminates most confusion between chapters and offers visual separation and intuitive repetitiveness to the overall book.

If the Illustration in your example is followed by a blank pg3 left page, then a chapter title on the following pg4 right page, there's no question what chapter was associated with the illustration.

Some of this is dependent upon the nature of the material. Using right pages for chapters can be seen as more formal and not always a practice used for more fiction or paperback books.

I'd encourage you to pick up a few books which are they same general genre as your project and note how chapter starts are treated.

(Of possible interest)

Related question: What is the purpose of always locating/starting new chapters on odd pages?

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  • Chapters mostly start on a right page (excluding paperback fiction and such things, where they often just start on the next page), but it’s not entirely uncommon – especially in ‘artsier’ books with more prominent/ornamental chapter titles and lots of illustrations – for them to start on left pages instead, leaving preceding right pages empty if necessary, but avoiding blank left pages. This is frequently done if the chapter title takes up most or all of the page, or if it runs across the spread (in which case it’s unavoidable). – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 28 at 21:14
  • I think it's overall a preference of the designer/layout artist, or author. I find chpt starts on the left unsettling myself. That doesn't mean it's "wrong"... merely something I'd never do myself. (Hence the first three words of this answer. :) ) – Scott May 28 at 21:16
  • I rarely do it, but for some books it feels right. I’m typesetting one at the moment where each chapter title fills the entire page in something like 96pt text in white on a blue background, almost like half a part-title spread. Placing that on a right page and then starting the chapter text on the following spread just looked wrong and disjointed – as things go, keeping the chapter title on the same spread as the beginning of the actual chapter trumps starting on a right page to me. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 28 at 21:19
  • That's where we differ. :) I would have no problem with a blank verso, full page blue title recto with 96pt type, then chpt text starting on the next verso. :) The recto with the title is seen as a visual break, then a breath, turn the page, start chpt content. – Scott May 28 at 21:21
  • Thanks for your answer! In my case, I'm typesetting a novel with quite short chapters (~8 pages per chapter including illustrations). I initially only started chapters on recto pages, but there was just too much wasted space. I'll take your advice and check out some similar books for a solution. – Phineas Greene May 29 at 2:09

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