Many new writers will reach this common barrier when it comes to publishing their first book. That barrier is formatting.
Once you have written your wonderful book, had it edited and proofread, you may be wondering, right… how do I turn this into an actual book?
Before the final stage of submitting to your chosen self-publishing platform, you will need to format your book. This can be done on various book formatting programs or you could hire a freelancer to do it for you.
But if you want to learn how to do this yourself, and do so inexpensively, then you may want to consider formatting your book in Microsoft Word. Which, I suppose you already have – hence, you reading this post!
Chances are you already have Microsoft Word installed on your PC, making it an easily accessible and free option for your book formatting needs. It is also quite a straight forward solution – especially if you have written a Novel or largely text-based book.
Illustrated books, however, are a little different – but you can learn about that here if you wish.
In addition to the pre-created book and booklet formats, Microsoft Word provides parametrized layouts that can be used to create a beautiful book, whether you’ve written a memoir or sharing your romance novel for the world to read.
Creating Your Book In Word
First, start by opening Word. It’s recommended that you adjust the following settings before writing your content so that you won’t run into issues with formatting later.
Once you’re in Word, head over to the “Layout” tab and look for the “Margins” icon
From the “Margins” section, you’re able to adjust the parameters for the margins of your book page. These values should reflect your chosen book size and page amount. You may use a book margin calculator or use your book submission platform for reference.
By default, the “Gutter” margin is set to 0. This is likely to cause problems down the line, as the gutter margin is the total space between the content of your book and the fold where the pages of the book will be bound together.
You should either set this to a 1” margin, or whatever you have been advised to set it to based on your chosen book size (the platform you are submitting your book on will provide guidance on this). This will ensure the content of your book doesn’t get cut off by the fold.
Now, select the “Multiple Pages” drop-down, and then select “Mirror Margins”. Then, click “OK.”
This is just a basic set-up guide to show you how to adjust margins and format your book for print or ebook distribution. However, there are a tonne of things you can do through word, such as add page numbers on each page or alternate pages. Add a table of contents for easier navigation etc. So be sure to explore all of your options and play around with the in-built book formatting features in Microsoft Word.
Other Things To Consider When Formatting Your Book In Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Word documents may be difficult to export when they contain complicated formatting (e.g. tables, text sidebars, and insets).
- Do not adjust the margin lengths in your ebook as many platforms convert it to content that is re-flowable and can be viewed with various font sizes.
- Try not to insert empty lines of text to produce blank pages.
- Rather than copying and pasting, add your images straight into your document.
- Insert page breaks when you can at the end of chapters.
Free Pre-Edited Downloadable Microsoft Word Formatted Documents
So, now that you know how to edit your margins yourself, it might be a good time to mention that there are also pre-adjusted documents that you can also download for free.
They are word documents and are already set up for specific book sizes;
|Page size without bleed||Page size with bleed|
|5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)||5.125″ x 8.25″ (13 x 20.92 cm)|
|5.06″ x 7.91″ (12.85 x19.84 cm)||5.185″ x 8.16″ (13.15 x 20.44 cm)|
|5.25″ x 8″ (13.34 x 20.32 cm)||5.375″ x 8.25″ (13.64 x 20.92 cm)|
|5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)||5.626″ x 8.75″ (14.27 x 22.19 cm)|
|6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)||6.125″ x 9.25″ (15.54 x 23.46 cm)|
|6.14″ x 9.21″ (15.6 x 23.39 cm)||6.265″ x 9.46″ (15.9 x 23.99 cm)|
|6.69″ x 9.61″ (16.99 x 24.4 cm)||6.815″ x 9.86″ (17.29 x 25 cm)|
|7″ x 10″ (17.78 x 25.4 cm)||7.125″ x 10.25″ (18.08 x 26 cm)|
|7.44″ x 9.69″ (18.9 x 24.61 cm)||7.565″ x 9.94″ (19.2 x 25.21 cm)|
|7.5″ x 9.25″ (19.05 x 23.5 cm)||7.625″ x 9.5″ (19.35 x 24.1 cm)|
|8″ x 10″ (20.32 x 25.4 cm)||8.125″ x 10.25″ (20.52 x 26 cm)|
|8.5″ x 11″ (21.59 x 27.94 cm)||8.625″ x 11.25″ (21.89 x 28.54 cm)|
|8.25″ x 6″ (20.96 x 15.24 cm)||8.375″ x 6.25″ (21.26 x 15.84 cm)|
|8.25″ x 8.25″ (20.96 x 20.96 cm)||8.375″ x 8.5″ (21.26 x 21.56 cm)|
|8.27″ x 11.69″ (21 x 29.7 cm)||8.395″ x 11.94″ (21.3 x 30.3 cm)|
|8.5″ x 8.5″ (21.59 x 21.59 cm)||8.625″ x 8.75″ (21.89 x 22.19 cm)|
You can download those for free, here.
Likewise, you can use Kindle’s free formatting tool, Kindle Create to compile very professional books with all the trimmings!