Front and Back Covers (and ISBN Bar Codes)

Sorry this post is so late after the last one, it was hard finding time to write between work and a toddler. We’re drawing to a close for this bookdesign series now… just as we’re starting a new year.

I’m not very imaginative, nor am I a graphic designer. So for my book cover, I go for a huge title across the top, a background illustration, and author/editor and publisher information at the bottom. Yes, very boring, but playing it safe — I think with a careful choice of fonts, colours and illustration, the end result wouldn’t look too bad at all. :) I personally find the wallpaper package very handy for the cover page. So it might go something like this:

%% No header nor footer on the cover

%% Cover illustration

%% Bar across the top
\tikz[remember picture,overlay]%
text=Cornsilk,minimum width=\paperwidth,
minimum height=5em,anchor=north]%
at (current page.north){Exercises in \LaTeX};


The Wonderful Calmness\par
of Still Life Photos\par}


A small dummy example book by

\tikz[remember picture,overlay]%
text=Cornsilk,minimum width=\paperwidth,
minimum height=3em,anchor=south]%
at (current page.south) {Malaysian \LaTeX\ User Group};



%% Clear to next odd page

Then comes the back cover. Now if the book is published with an ISBN, you’d want to put a bar code for it. I was wondering where I could get a free bar code generator, when a gut instinct told me to look around CTAN for a LaTeX solution. And sure enough, the ean13isbn package does the trick without any hassle:

%% In preamble

%% Print the ISBN bar code
%% See the documentation for other sizes e.g. SC0, SC1…

So here’s the code for my backcover:

%% Temporarily enlarge this page to push
%% down the bottom margin


\huge\bfseries\sffamily\color{lime}`So Calming.’






\textbf{\textcolor{LightGoldenrod!50!Gold}{Malaysian \LaTeX\ User Group \textbullet\ \texttt{}}}

\textbf{\textcolor{LightGoldenrod}{Cover Illustration by Dusan Bicanski \textbullet\ \texttt{}}}

I’ve also added a table of contents with a simple \tableofcontents. The ToC heading is printed as a chapter heading, so I created a fancy style for it, without the chapter number and background picture, by modifying our fancy chapter code from earlier.

All in all, here’s what our sample book now looks like (empty pages omitted):

Download links of the LaTeX code producing the above:

Illustrations courtesy of here, here and here; OpenClipart Project here.


Well it’s been fun writing this series. It sure took me some time to prepare the sample code, search for appropriate illustrations and write up the posts, but I’m glad I documented how I achieved some of the effects in that Grid Computing Cluster book. Many thanks to all the readers and especially those who kept the comments section lively. You sure motivated me to finish writing this series! 😀