with Courtney Slazinik
5 Blurb Book Layout Tips


Shortly after we returned from our family vacation, I sat down one night and designed our vacation photo Blurb book. Start to finish. Now, the hard cover book sits on our coffee table. Frequently, my two-year old likes to flip through the pages and name all of the family members. Although I have to watch and make sure she doesn’t rip the pages, this is exactly why I make photo books. The photos are not only located on my hard drive but visible for my kids and family to remember the precious moments of our life.

blur book tips

January is the perfect time to finish a photo book of your 2012 photos – or get started with your 2013 book. Too often, this sounds like a great idea but becomes too time consuming to finish. Well, I have 5 great tips for using Blurb’s free program, BookSmart, to efficiently and beautifully design a photo book.

Blurb book layouts made easy

1. My Pages
Blurb’s BookSmart offers over 70 different page layouts you can choose from when designing your Blurb book. That’s great, but that’s also a lot. You shouldn’t be using all of those spreads. It takes way too long to figure out which one of the 70 you should use. Plus, the more layouts you use, the more haphazard your design appears.

Streamline your options by designing your favorite 10-12 layouts and save them to your “My Pages” tab.

When you have adjusted a particular layout to fit your style, click “Apply & Save to My Layouts.” Provide a custom name. Typically, I include the number of photo boxes in the layout name.

blurb book layout

Then when selecting layouts for your book, use the pull down menu to only reveal the “My Pages” you have saved.

blurb layout 2

2. Text Styles
If you want to provide a title, captions, date, or page number to your layouts, I recommend you utilize the text style feature. It will keep you organized and save you time. Two very good things!

Select your favorite font(s) and define the text styles. Blurb’s BookSmart allows up to 5 text styles.

Select “Customize Styles” from the pull down menu when the text box is highlighted.

blurb layout 3

Define the font style, size, color, and any Bold/Italics/Underline you may want.

blurb book 4

Once these are defined, all you have to do is select “Body” – or whatever style you want – when adding text. Super easy!

3. Align tools
If you create your own layouts with multiple image and text boxes, the align tool becomes your best friend. The software does provide a grid, but to make sure you have clean lines to your layouts and all boxes align appropriately, use this handy dandy tool. Your eyes will thank you too!

blurb book 5

4. Page numbers
Not necessary for every page, but page numbers can provide a handy reference for you, especially if you are designing a large book. It sounds like it will be very time consuming to add them but it is really quite simple.

If your particular layout does not have a footer, you can add one by selecting the “Footer” button in the upper right corner in Edit Layout mode. If you don’t want page numbers of footer in your layout, select, right click and press “hide footer.”

blurb book 6

You also have the option to show the footer on all pages, even pages or odd pages.

blurb book 7

5. Locked spreads
Do you love the look of full spread bleeds but not sure how to achieve the layout with the free program? It’s not rocket science, but it can be done. Create two full bleed page layouts next to each other. Insert the same photo on each side. Scale exactly the same percentage and then line each photo with the center along the spine.

blurb book

Finally lock the spread! This will ensure these pages stay together as a pair.

blurb book

Get started on your next photo book using these tips.

Coupon Code: Save 20% off your Blurb book through 2/14/2013 – MYBOOKLOVE

What is your favorite tip for making a photo book???


stacey wisemanStacey R. Wiseman-Guest Post
Stacey R Wiseman is married with two kids living in a bungalow in Kentucky. Although she rarely cooks dinner for her family (thanks to her husband), she makes awesome biscuits! She is the owner of Book This Project and has been making blurb books for over 4 years. Want to see these tips in action and learn how to take your photo book to the next level? Sign up for the Book This Project Intro to Photo Book Design Workshop. Or she can design a custom book for you! Are you looking for weekly tips, advice, and specials? Sign up for her weekly newsletter – it’s free!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you in advance if you make a purchase through one of these links and support Click it Up a Notch.

  • January 31, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Wow, Blurb has changed a lot since the last time I used it! I made a cookbook through them a long long time ago. Their print wasn’t so great, but I’m guessing that’s probably gotten better over the years right along with their software. I may have to take another look. Thanks!

    • January 31, 2013 at 7:33 PM

      Yes! I think they offer a lot of opportunities and possibilities. They have a great pro-line feature and now ebooks! It is a bonus to the photo book design workshop I offer, but they are really easy to make and convert if you are already familiar with their software. Here is a link of a cook e-book. It’s really such an amazing genre. You can have a printed family cook-book but also send out an ebook!

    • Courtney
      February 1, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Jessica, you should totally make another book with Blurb!! They have SO many new features :) P.S. I love y’alls blog and How We See Korea! Wish I had thought of that when I lived in Japan!

      • February 2, 2013 at 3:52 AM

        Thanks Courtney!
        I’ve started a book for my How We See Korea photos. I keep debating between Blurb and Artifact Uprising, but I think I’ll give Blurb a whirl. :)

  • February 1, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    These are such great tips–thank you so much for sharing them! I really, really need to get started on a book for my family photos!

    • February 1, 2013 at 6:57 PM

      Thanks Allison! ;) These tips will definitely help make your book professional and beautiful! Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions as you are designing your book!

  • Laura
    November 26, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    What fonts did you use for your date, blog title, and blog text?

    • December 2, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      Hey Laura,

      I don’t know what the font is for the blog text and date but the blog title is Special Elite :)

  • January 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Great article Stacey!

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  • andrea
    July 23, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    What font did you use for your “2012 BEACH VACATIONS” title in this book?


    • July 23, 2015 at 10:26 AM

      This post was written by a guest writer – Stacey Wiseman of Book This Project. I’m sure if you reach out to her she could tell you.

  • Lucian
    June 15, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    I used Blurb for a book but found that the images lacked consistency in their colours from page to page. What looked fine to me on my computer (All the images I used) did not translate that way onto the paper of the blurb book, and I used their high end paper and printing. Some images looked the same as they did on my laptop and iPad, yet others had a strong red tinge to them or some other colour cast. That was quite disappointing when the book arrived in the post. Any tips on getting the photographs to look the same when printed, as they do on the screen please?

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