No, It Won’t Look Simple, But …

Conference room from pixabay public domain

Simple formatting using Microsoft Word and Atlantis Word Processor

I know something this long won’t seem simple, but take it one step at a time and try not to stress like I did re-inventing the wheel to come up with this. 

I use Microsoft Word version 2010. It creates PDFs which I use for print interiors and for print and hardback covers. Specifics for ebooks, print interiors (which are the same for paperback and hardback books) follow.

  1. Our books are all 5.5 x 8.5. Many use 6 x 9 but that seems too big for me. It’s an individual choice, of course. I start with the ebook version and create a doc that is in “statement” format, that is, 1/2 the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 page. I make the margins .75 all around. 0 gutter for ebooks. No headers, no footers. No different first or odd and even pages. Insert the front cover image into the first page of the file. Ragged right for fiction, justified for nonfiction unless it has questions and short answers included, and then I use ragged right so lines don’t get too stretched out. Always separate chapters or sections with section breaks that begin on the next page throughout. I don’t even use simple page breaks anymore.
  2. Under styles, create a few repeatable formatting features for your doc. I hide all the styles that show up as quick choices except Normal and Heading 1. I use “modify” on these two and set up as follows.
  3. Normal is the basic text of the book. I modify it to 11 pt Georgia with a .3 paragraph indent and no space between paragraphs for fiction. For nonfiction, I make it no paragraph indent and 6 pt space after each block paragraph. 
  4. Heading 1 becomes your chapter titles.  Mine is set at 12 pt Georgia bold, centered, 100 pt space above and 6 pt space below. This makes a new chapter page start about a third of the way down. 
  5. For all other styles I create a paragraph or other area in the format I want and then save it as anew quick style. The third style I set is called “image.” If I have mechanical breaks (as simple as asterisks or more fancy, like swirly dings) between scenes, or illustrations within the text, or at the beginnings or ends of chapters, those will be centered, 6 pts above and 6 pts below, inline with the text. If I need words with that image I set the text either 11 pt Georgia italic if it’ a caption or 11 pt Georgia bold if it’s a subtitle.
  6. If I have a Scripture quote I want to set off, I make it indented .3 on each side and italic. If it’s short, I might also center it like poetry. Other longer quotes (not Scripture) are placed unitalicized but in the same format. Making Scripture italic is a personal style choice. I sometimes use lengthy quotes, like from a character’s diary, and those are also italic, .3 indent on each side. Again, my personal style choice. You be consistent with what you want for these things of lesser importance.
  7. So, starting from the beginning of the book, here is what I include in my formatting. I have sometimes put a short teaser from the book in the very front, and sometimes reviews. These are set in a style I call copyright, which is the same as the “normal” format for nonfiction books explained above (No paragraph indent, 6 pts between paragraphs). 
  8. For the title page of the book I make the title 16 point Georgia Bold, centered, and the other info (subtitles, “by,” author name) in 14 pt Georgia centered bold. Last lines of the title page are for the copyright statement. 11 pt Georgia regular, centered, with the copyright symbol and year, author, and/or publishing company. 6 pt between lines. 
  9. The next page is the copyright page. It restates the title, author, publisher, date, and copyright symbol, plus states your copyright “law,” gives credit for anyone who edited or designed your cover, and for any resources like images or references to famous movies or other things included in your book. Italicize titles here, not on the title page.
  10. Any acknowledgements or notes to readers are on the next page, under the Heading 1 header Acknowledgements, or Dedication, or whatever explains what it is. TOC should follow the copyright page. A Forward, an introduction, or anything else that goes in your front matter follows in the same format. Remember, make section breaks set to the next page throughout. Try to keep the front matter as short as possible so the reader doesn’t get tired of your biographical sketch, other books you’ve written, etc. Put anything remotely optional or promotional at the back and keep it brief. 
  11. The Ebook proceeds right through, with a table of contents, if you wish, and chapter titles in Heading One style. I don’t link the TOC. I let the NCX created by the styles in the ebook do that. Section breaks end each chapter. No page numbers, no headers. Use Atlantis Word Processor to convert your file to epub. All upload sites accept that format and most ereaders use it. Even Amazon has accepted it for a long time. It uploads faster and cuts down the file size from Word or mobi (Kindle) formats. Pull up your ebook word doc and look in the file menu for ”convert to ebook.” Fill out the metadata boxes as best you can and your epub is created pretty much automatically. It tries to save it in Atlantis’s own doc folder but you put it where you can find it.
  12. After you finish the ebook version, save that and then resave the same file as your print edition. Revise for the print book layout as follows: .66 on all margins with .33 on the gutter. Mark “different first page” and “different left and right pages.” Add .5 header and footer. Check ”mirror margins.” The print book text can get page numbers and headers and footers in this way: When you arrive at the first page of the first chapter of the main text, go into the headers and footers of the first, second, and third pages and break the links that say “Same as previous.” Do it to only those three pages. Then enter your headers as you wish. I use author name on the left and book title on the right. I do centered, one carriage return below/above, and no indents or before/after spacing, 11 point Georgia. Sometimes I capitalize, usually on nonfiction or contemporary. I enter the page numbers bottom center in the same way and make them Arabic numerals, starting the numbering from the previous section. 
  13. If you need to have page numbers in the front matter, start after the TOC page on the first page of the rest of the front matter. Break the “same as previous links so no page numbers or headers or footers pop up on the front pages. They don’t get paginated. I make the page number format lower case Roman numerals. Again. Start numbering from the previous section.

We welcome your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.