Formatting: And You Thought Editing was a Nightmare!
Part II: Formatting for Your Self-Published Physical Copy
This section assumes you’ve decided to publish yourself, and it’s time to get your manuscript ready for print. Of course you’re formatting one of your copies, right? Leave the original as is—always.
For the sake of ease, let’s also assume the trim size you’ve decided on is 6” x 9”, a pretty standard paperback size. This is also given as it would be used in Word 2010. If you have an earlier version, you may have to search a little to find the same commands, but I promise you will find them. You will now be turning back on many of those things we turned off in the first section of formatting—plus some you’ve probably never even touched.
1. Page Layout>Page Setup (Make sure you've already selected all text and changed it to full justification)
a. Paper: Width: 6”, Height: 9”, Apply to: Whole Document
b. Layout: Section start: Odd page, Headers & Footers: Checkmark both boxes. Leave them set at .5” (you can change this later if you want it different)
c. Margins: .5” on all sides, Gutter position: Left, Gutter: .75”.** Multiple pages: Mirror margins
** Whichever POD you decide to go with, read their specific requirements for trim size and page count
2. Page Layout>Paragraph
a. Indents and Spacing: Alignment: Justified; Line spacing: Single
b. Line and Page Breaks: Everything UN-checked, except for Don’t Hyphenate (unless you don’t mind having hyphenated words in your book, in which case you will also uncheck this)
3. Page Layout (Setting your section breaks)
a. By now you should have your title page, your front matter, dedication page, and any other pages that you wish to have included in your book.
b. In this area you will see a button called “breaks”. Click on the arrow to the right of that and you will see all of your break options. You will always use section breaks. Anywhere you have a “page break” you need to delete it and change it to a “section break”. If you went with multiple returns, you will also delete those and replace them with a section break. The section break is placed right after the final period or letter of the page which you are breaking from. Below are the specific breaks you’ll use for each section.
i. Facing title page: If you choose to have a facing title page, under “section breaks” choose “even page”. It will place a blank page first then your facing page will be on the backside of that blank page.
ii. Title page: The section break before this will be “odd page”. Formatting font for your title should be larger than your name, and this is where you can get fancy with your fonts and design. Generally the title font will reflect the title font on the cover. You can add a line or design after the title, a border . . . whatever you want, just make sure you don’t overcrowd the page. The title should be centered horizontally, and either centered vertically or just above center with your author name just below
iii. Copyright page: This will be on the backside of the title page, and so should begin with “even page”
iv. Dedication page: “odd page” puts this opposite the copyright page
v. Contents page: “odd page” put this on the right side, with a blank page on the left
vi. Preface or acknowledgements: “odd page” whether at the beginning or end of the book
vii. First page: always “odd page” to begin your book on the right side. Never have it begin on the left—it will look and feel odd to your readers.
viii. Following chapters: this is a personal choice. I prefer each new chapter to begin on the right side, so I always choose “odd page”. If you don’t care which side your chapter begins on, then choose “next page”. It is essential that you use a section break between each chapter in order for your page numbers, headers and footers to appear correctly.
** Make sure that at the end of each paragraph you’ve deleted the page break or the returns you’ve entered. The new break always goes at the last word of your paragraph.
a. Home>Font: This is where you can play with the font, and decide what you want your text to look like. It’s suggested you never use larger than 12pt for a chapter book or smaller than 10pt—and only use that if it’s a larger-type font. You’re not going to want to use anything too fancy, or difficult to read. Keep it fairly basic: Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, Arial, for example, or another serif font. Definitely do whatever font you really love—as long as it’s readable at a small font. Not sure? Print a single page and see how it appears.
5. Chapter Titles and Headings
a. If you want to add chapter titles, make them all uniform font and size.
b. If you want to add drop caps at the beginning of the chapter, this is done on the “insert” tab under “drop cap”. Make sure you use dropped, rather than in margin. It defaults to 3 lines, but you can make it as many or few as you want with the options. Make them all a uniform font size.
6. Returns at the Beginning of a New Chapter
a. There’s probably an easier way to space all your chapters the same distance down the page, but I don’t know what it is. This is how I do it: After you’ve added a section break, it will place your cursor at the top of the next page. Hit return however many lines it takes to place your chapter beginning about 1/3 of the way down the page (I use 8). Make sure you use the same amount on each chapter beginning.
7. On Orphans and Widows
a. Orphans are when there is a single sentence from a larger paragraph left at the bottom of a page; widows are when there is a single sentence from a larger paragraph sitting by itself at the top of a page. This is not speaking of a single sentence that is not part of a larger paragraph. Those are fine, no matter where they land. Orphans and widows, in this case, are unattractive and generally considered a no-no. How to get rid of them? Let me begin by telling you how not to get rid of them. Earlier, in basic formatting, this is one of the boxes in Paragraphs>Line and Page Breaks that you were told to make sure is unchecked. Keep it unchecked or you will have pages with uneven sentence numbers, which looks even worse than orphans and widows. Once you have completely finished all other formatting, and you’re happy with the layout, go to the beginning of your story. If you see an orphan or widow, add a few words, an extra sentence, something that will push the widow or orphan back together with another sentence. This little thing can become quite time consuming, as getting rid of an orphan on one page may create one on the next page. So be very careful with this piece of formatting. The reason I tell you to wait until the end is that if you don’t, and then decide to change some small aspect of your formatting, you might create new orphans and widows after having rid yourself of them all. If they don't bother you, then just skip this whole step (other than making sure that you keep the Orphan/Widow box unchecked).
8. Numbering Pages
a. Word has many options for numbering your pages, which is great for those with a creative bent. Under “Insert” you will find a tab called Header & Footer, with a button called Page Number. For a book, you will generally want the page number at the bottom, though again that’s a personal choice. Page numbers should not begin until the very first page of your actual story—in other words, no page numbers on any of the title page, front page, dedication page, etc.
b. When you add the page numbers, it will open up a design tool for the headers & footers. Set how close you want the footer to the edge of the page (.5 works well)
c. Make sure all 3 boxes (“different first page”, “different odd & even pages”, “show document text”) are checked.
d. On the navigation tab, click on “link to previous”
9. Header Title/Name
a. Some books have nothing in their header, some have the book title on one side and author name on the other, some will have book title on one side and chapter name on the other. This is another one of those personal choices. Pull out some of your personal novels and see how it’s been done in some of them, and which look you like the best.
b. Double-click in the header area, and this will again open the design tab. Make sure it is set as explained above, and decide how close you want your wording to the top of the page. I set mine at .1
c. This is where it’s extremely important to have those 3 boxes under the options tab a checked, and to have section breaks rather than page breaks in order to have no header on the first page of each chapter, and a differing text on your odd and even pages. If you use page breaks, you cannot format your headers and footers correctly.
d. On the very first page of your story (again, not the title or any of the other pages), don’t type anything. This will keep the first page of every chapter blank, which looks much better than having some random typing on the top of the page, taking away from the clean look. On the second page of your story, type whatever information you want to show up on all of the even, or left side, pages. For example, say you want your title to be on the left. Type it on that page and it will show up on all of your even pages. Type your name on the right, and it will show up on all your odd pages.
If you have somewhere in your book a letter, for example, or a dream, or any other text that is indented (excluding chapter headings), then select all of the text of it, left justify it, then move it over by going to Home>Paragraph. There you can indent both the left and right sides by however much you like (.3 is a good number for this). This gives it a cleaner, more uniform look in the PDF. Centering should be used for chapter headings and poems only, though the poems should also be indented as explained above, and not by using the "tab" key.
Now that you’re all formatted, you’re ready to save it as a PDF. This is the required format for publication. This is simply done with the "save as" feature under File. Change the Save as Type to PDF. Once you have the PDF you need to go through the whole thing, word by word. Check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and particularly formatting errors. Your manuscript looks completely different in this format, making it easier to see things you may have missed before. Once you’ve gone through the whole thing, walk away for a few days, then go through it again. See if you can get extra sets of eyes to go through it for you as well.
There are some templates that you can use to format your book. I have never used one so I can’t give an opinion as to how they work. I’m sure there are also services to do this for you. For me, I prefer to do it myself, so that if it’s wrong, it’s on my head. Either way, there are options available, so I wanted to give you a few links for that.
Also, here are some sites with great info on formatting, which you may find more clear and concise than what I’ve written, or complements what I have here.
As always, joyous formatting, and have a happy week!