Publishing 101: Formatting the Interior

Publishing 101This is one in a series of posts entitled Publishing 101: Draft to Book in 30 Days. To learn more about this challenge, visit the Publishing 101 page, where all links regarding this topic will be listed as they become available.

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There are several options available to format the interior of a paperback book. They include:

  1. Hiring someone to format it for you
  2. Purchasing a preformatted template
  3. Formatting from scratch in a word processing program
  4. Using one of CreateSpace’s templates

I’ll briefly describe the top three and then provide more information about the option I chose.

Hiring someone to format your novel

This may be the easiest method for individuals who are not software savvy or who do not want to take the time to learn how to format the interior of the book themselves. The increased popularity of self-publishing has created a demand for this service, so it’s much easier now to locate someone to format your manuscript than it was fifteen years ago.

Formatting prices depend on the size of the project (word count and complexity of text) and the individual offering the service. I’ve seen it as low as $35, but that was a few years ago.

Formatters can be found by searching the web. You can also post the job to eLance and choose the bidder that best suits your project.

Purchasing a preformatted template

Just like there are individuals ready to format your manuscript, there are people who sell templates in which you can use to do most of the work for you. All you have to do is drop your words in the correct space of the template.

Preformatted templates are easier to use, but some knowledge about formatting must be known or learned to be successful.

Formatting from scratch in a word processing program

Unless you are well-versed in a reliable program (such as MS Word), do not attempt to format your book from scratch. This can cause more headaches than it’s worth. If you choose this route, good luck.

Using one of CreateSpace’s templates

This is what I do. It’s fairly straight forward. Every book size offered by CreateSpace has a template to match. The templates are found in the Interior planning of a book. They are free to use.

After you choose the trim size, the appropriate templates will appear. The blank template is just that: blank. I choose the formatted template and adjust it to the current project I’m working on.

New Title - Step 5 - Interior formatted template

Now that I’ve created several books, I have a working template on my hard drive. I had initially downloaded the generic formatted template and over the past few years have modified the design to suit my needs.

If this is your first time, you’ll have a slight learning curve ahead of you, but future projects will become much easier.

The generic template includes the basic elements of a book.

Front Matter

  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgement

Back Matter

  • About the Author

You don’t have to keep these elements. You can take things away or add things. It is important to have the hidden codes revealed when working with the template. It shows you were the End Sections are located, so you won’t delete them by accident.

The End Sections keep the pages aligned. You can add and delete them, but make sure you know the consequences of your actions. If you play around with these, save the file first, then perform the action. If it doesn’t turn out like you planned, you can either undo the action or close the file without saving it. Removing a needed End Section might bump your Dedication onto your Copyright page or put a chapter title on the same page as the last paragraph of the previous chapter.

It’s important to know the basics of Styles when adding your personal preference to the generic template. I shared some tips on Styles in the Creating a Clean Manuscript post.

I often use the Style names provided in the template, but right click the Style and modify the font to the type and size I prefer.

Don’t forget about Headers and Page Numbers. Place the cursor over the desired text you want to change and double click. Enter the authors name and change the text font and size, and then enter the book title on the opposite page.

Page numbers are my greatest headache. I haven’t yet reached the ‘heart’ of the formatting stage, so must take care of this on the ‘outer rim’. In other words, I have to change the font type and size on several pages before the rest of the book follows suit. Sometimes all goes well for fifty pages and then page 51 reverts back to the original font type and size, and I have to modify several more before it goes into automatic formatting mode again.

The actual page numbers in long books (longer than ten chapters) can also run amok. For example, the number might run: 135, 136, 137, 83, 139, 140… I’m still working on solving this problem. I think I’ve solved the mystery and will write a post in the future explaining my method when I’m certain it works every time.

The CreateSpace templates are created in MS Word 97–2003. When you save it for the final time, embed the fonts by clicking FILE in the top ribbon menu, choose OPTIONS in the left margin, then SAVE in the left margin. At the bottom of the pop-up window that appears you’ll see: Preserve fidelity when sharing this document.

Below this is: Embed fonts in the file

CLICK the box beside Embed fonts in the file, and UNCLICK the two boxes below it. Go back to the document and click SAVE.

The final step is to save the file in PDF. This is easy in MS Word by using SAVE AS. Before MS Word, I used a program specifically for this operation. It was easy, but took a few more minutes.

In MS Word, when I choose SAVE AS and PDF, before I click SAVE, I complete the information in the AUTHOR, TAGS and TITLE fields.

That’s the basics of formatting a manuscript to upload to CreateSpace. I always save the original MS Word document and the PDF file. If I need to make changes, I go back to the Word document, make the changes and create a new PDF.


7 thoughts on “Publishing 101: Formatting the Interior

  1. I did my novel in InDesign which I’m used to working with. Very straightforward and no problems creating a pdf from it. You can also place text, logos etc where you want them without Word insisting they go elsewhere.


    • I’m about 18 months away from getting InDesign, so I’m stuck using MS Word for now. I’ve heard many great things about the program, so I can’t wait to use it. I’ve used MS Word long enough now to get everything exactly where I want it, and PDF formatting is just a click. I use the 2010 version, so I’m not sure if earlier versions are equipped with this.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


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