Bookplate design: 3 tips for graphic designers

July 22, 2020

A custom bookplate design is a great idea for any new promotional giveaway or design deliverable to add to your portfolio. Bookplates are those cool rectangular stickers that you attach to the endpapers in the front of a book with a space to write your name. This way, everyone knows it's a book from your personal library.

Historically, bookplates are known as "ex libris," which is Latin for "from the library of" or "from the books of." Many bookplate designs will use the phrase "ex libris" as a text header or a design element. If you've encoutnered these in your books, some say, "This book belongs to:" and a space to write your name. As a graphic deigner, you can add custom bookplate design as a service. Also, you may want to create bookplates as a self promotion piece. Read on to learn three bookplate design tips. 

1. Go old school with bookplate design

According to, bookplates were used way back in the 1300s by the Egyptians, throughout the Middle Ages and into Elizabethan times. Many early bookplate designs featured the book owner's motto, coat of arms, crest or other identifying badge. To create an old-school bookplate, try making a crest out of your business logo, or "Latinizing" your business tagline. For inspiration, check out Happy Menocal's custom heraldry illustrations. Menocal is a fine artist and illustrator who offers an amazing custom crest design service.

2. Use matte paper

To create a sophisticated piece that works for even the most snobby bibliophiles (those folks who collect hardcovers from Everyman's Library or the new Penguin Classics), use matte paper. Matte paper will work with most publications' endpapers. You don't want to overpower the book design with a glossy sticker. Matte paper is also much easier for the user to write their name on.

3. Get the format right

A good standard size for bookplate stickers is 3 inches wide by 4.25 inches high. This will fit in both paperback and hardcover editions. Rectangular is the standard format, but you could experiment with custom die-cut stickers in the shapes of hearts, stars, apples or other objects. Adding a border is a good way to differentiate the bookplate design from the book design. Also leave ample space for a name or even a gift inscription as people may want to use the plates to inscribe books they give as gifts. For even more inspiration check out hundreds of images of 19th- and 20th-century book plates in the Pratt Library Ex Libris Collection on

No matter if you are creating these for you professional portfolio or as a gift, a well-designed bookplate will set you a part.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

Thanks so much; this was quite helpful!

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What is the PsPrint Blog??

The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.