Formatting eBook & Paperback for Publishing

Hi Everyone,

I recently had a few requests on how to format a manuscript for paperback and/or ebook formatting. After some thought I realized that it would be easier and more convenient to write out the process and share with everyone. Please note though that the program used is Microsoft Word which I figure everyone should have access to in one form or another. eBook formatting is for KDP publishing as that is the only one I have experience with so far.

General Formatting Tips

When splitting chapters, use the “Next Page” function to make the split between chapters for eBook and Paperback formatting.

When trying to resolve any formatting issues, use the keys CTRL+SHIFT+8 to view paragraph indents, spacing and page breaks in further detail to see exactly what the issue may be.

This is incredibly useful when going over the manuscript to resolve any issues with formatting that come up prior to publishing.

In the paragraph window, use the “First Line” function to have proper indenting for paragraphs. I use 0.40 cm after measuring the book I wanted to model mine after in terms of spacing. Keep in mind though that you will have to remove this from Chapter titles to keep them centered. You can highlight the text to center and then open the paragraph window to remove the “First Line” function.

You can access this window by clicking on the arrow in the paragraph window.

When you want to review the formatting, it is best to do so either in Print Preview or printing a PDF. These two methods allow you to see if there are any spacing issues or blank pages strewn about that need to be fixed. However for KDP’s formatting, I had to use their online tool to make sure that the formatting was correct.

eBook Formatting

eBook formatting is a lot easier than Paperback formatting. At least with KDP Amazon Publishing, when uploading to their platform they will format the text in their own font, size and pages.
Note: Keep in mind that not every font will translate correctly to KDP eBook formatting. Even using the base fonts provided with Microsoft Word won’t translate correctly. This could be an issue if you have specific requirements for fonts to be used.

However, there is one rather obnoxious thing to keep in mind. When doing section breaks to split up the chapters for an eBook, you’ll need to use CTRL+SHIFT+8 to view the  page breaks at the end of each section to ensure it states “next page”.

This is how it appears after pressing CTRL+SHIFT+8

This can be especially nightmare-ish if you format for paperback with mirrored margins and then use it for an ebook as the section breaks will read as “Odd Page” or “Even Page” instead. The issue is that in KDP, it will not take into account the spacing between the end of the previous page and where the new chapter title begins so it will scrunch up the text and not look correct.

Paperback Formatting

Paperback formatting can be a bit of a headache if done after the writing is finished. Try to have everything set up before writing to make it easier on yourself (will save hours and sometimes days of fixing).

Mirror Margins are what allow for the book to be properly formatted to reflect the left and right pages as a reader turns the page. Set Mirror Margins to get the proper book format.

For this, you’ll need to look at an example book or google margins used for the genre you are writing for. The example above is what I used for my book.
Note: You’ll need to look up the margins for the book dimensions you want to publish. The dimensions of the book I used were 9” x 6”. I actually took a book off of my shelf to measure the dimensions and margins.

Odd and Even pages are what allow you to have different headers like you would find in most paperback novels. Pages on the left often having the author name while the pages on the right have the book title. You’ll need to select different headers for odd and even pages. Double clicking on the header will open up this and show these options.

A “Section Break” is needed to remove the header for when a new chapter starts. The process is the same as the “Next Page” function except you will need to select “Even Page” or “Odd Page” depending on which page the chapter falls on.

The page numbers that show up in the “Footer” section can be added under the “Insert” tab. You’ll see “Page Number” and then select which one you want for your novel. I recommend setting it to the bottom of the page and centered as that’s easier to manage throughout the novel.

Section breaks are needed to remove the page number from any parts you want to keep blank such as when breaking the book up into parts 1,2,3, etc.

I hope you find this helpful! This may not cover everything you need to format your manuscript, however this should provide a good starting off point to format your text to the appropriate formatting.

– Raphael

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