Tips on Formatting a Book Interior

Formatting the interior of your book can be tricky– and if you don’t do it well, it can give you away as a novice. If you’re going to do it yourself, here are a few formatting tips for your book:

book formatting templates

 

  • Set your margins wide–around .75″ to 1.0″ (depending on the trim size of your book). Most self-published authors make margins too narrow because they can save money on paper and printing–but that’s false economy.
  • Experiment with line spacing at something a little larger than single-spacing. Try 1.2 spacing. Then eyeball the results. Too dense? Too airy? Adjust as necessary.
  • Except for some novels, start each chapter on a right-hand page. That means left-hand pages are sometimes blank.
  • Start the first line of a new chapter about a third of the way down the page.
  • Consider starting the first line of text in a chapter with a dropcap (see example in the right-hand book above). Whether you go that route depends on what the rest of your chapter opener looks like.
  • Position your subheads on the line directly above the text block they introduce. And set them off with a linespace above to separate them from the previous text block. They should never float equidistant between the previous and the subsequent text blocks.
  • If a subhead requires two lines, try to break the first line so that it is shorter than the second line. This creates the illusion that the second line is a foundation for the first line.
  • For most pages, create a header (usually consisting of the author’s name on the left-hand page and the name of the book or chapter on the right-hand page) and a footer (usually consisting of a page number).
  • Remove the header and footer on the first page of every chapter.
  • Remove the header and footer text on all blank pages. Blank pages should be entirely blank.
  • Remove the header or footer text in the front matter (title page, copyright page, dedication, table of contents, etc) and back matter (acknowledgments, about the author). Not sure? Check some traditionally published books on your shelf.
  • Never allow a widow (one or two words) or orphan (a single line of text) to appear alone on a page. Cut or add text to fix this problem.
  • Make sure your title page appears on a right-hand page. Generally, the copyright page appears on the following left-hand page.

If all that makes your head ache, you might want to consider using a preformatted book template. All these details are baked into these templates, and all you do is cut and paste your manuscript into the right sections.

Basic templates are free on the Createspace site (log in to your account, click on Interior in the left-hand navigation bar). If you want something a bit spiffier, take a look at the templates available through www.bookdesigntemplates.com. At $59, they can save you a lot of trial-and-error.

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