How to Be a Domestic Goddess

8 Jul

Look inside How to Be a Domestic Goddess on Amazon.

Cook books are meant to be used, not necessarily read so it’s really important that their contents and index pages, not to mention the recipe pages themselves, are all carefully laid-out in a way that makes their use and the information that they contain obvious. Also, because everyone seems to have a bit of a fetish for nice food books, they need to be as good looking as a design book at the same time.

I think How to be a Domestic Goddess is a nice example of bringing all the elements together in a way that works. For a start, I like the way that (in the edition I’ve included here) the black, gold and warm brown colours of the cover are pulled all the way through the internal design, in the chapter intro pages and the text itself.

After having just mentioned that I wasn’t sure about centre-aligned contents pages, I think this is an example of one that works. The reason for this, I think, is the use of colour and font size to differentiate between heading levels as well as a generous amount of space between the lines of text. There’s enough space for your eye to deal with one line at a time, and setting page numbers in a different colour helps to make them obvious without making them stick out in a bad way.

I like the use of a different paper colour to introduce colours. This makes the shift to a new section obvious by making it kind of an ‘event’. I also find the setting of the chapter title, like ‘Cakes’ in the bottom right-hand corner really pleasing: I feel like it’s just inviting you to follow it over on to the next page! Plus the white text on the chocolate paper has a definitely sumptuous effect that is so Nigella (it makes me think of cream and chocolate … and makes my mouth water).

I think the layout of the recipes themselves is also really effective. It’s really clear where the ingredients are (bold, two columns) and where the method starts, without actually having to use headings to spell it out. I’m intrigued by the large first-line indent of each paragraph, I’ve never really noticed that before but I think it works. I also really like that each recipe has an introduction: when you look at each page, it looks quite balanced with heading, ingredients, method, variation, etc.

I think the index is quite simply and clearly set out. Having two columns allows more text without it being cluttered, and having the indents for subsidiary headings makes it easy to skim through and find what you’re looking for.

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