Textbook art placement tips

In Laura Frost’s article “Placement Matters! Textbook Art Placement” in the Fall 2019 edition of The Academic Author, she makes excellent points about the importance of art positioning in a textbook and the challenges to accomplish this. By placing art directly where students will “see” it when they need it, i.e. near the in-text callout, we support their learning. If the art is not immediately visible to them, they are less likely to reference it. Appropriate placement also supports instructors who wish to refer to the art during a classroom discussion. I thought I would take a moment to share my experience and solutions.

I have published three editions of two texts, both winners of TAA’s Most Promising New Textbook Award. The current edition is 1,200 pages in length with hundreds of figures and tables that need to be appropriately placed. In my experience it seems that there is an unwritten rule among compositors that any art should be place after the in-text callout. This means that any art referenced in the last 1/4 to 1/2 page of a two-page spread is likely to be placed on the next spread and require a page turn.

I provide explicit instructions in my turnover notes to production that all art is to be placed on the same two-page spread as the callout. If the art cannot be placed on the same two-page spread due to the size or number of pieces, I direct the compositor to manually insert the page reference following the callout. For example, Figure 1-1 (page 3). It often takes multiple rounds of communication and revision while reviewing pages to accomplish the desired placement or page referencing, but I believe is worth the effort because the enhancement to learning.


Lorraine Papazian-BoyceLorraine Papazian-Boyce is a textbook author in the health sciences discipline. Her most recent publications include Pearson’s Comprehensive Medical Coding: Path to Success, 2e, ICD-10-CM/PCS Coding: Map to Success, 1e, and Pearson’s Comprehensive Medical Assisting, 4e.