Writing a book is a really big deal, and takes hours and days, and likely months to finish. You should be very proud if you are able to do this. But, if you don’t know about formatting a book, your work may not get the attention it deserves.
You learning how to format a book for publishing is the icing on the cake for your manuscript. It allows your story to shine by giving an orderly and organized approach to the writing. Let’s talk about what this means and how to do it.
What does formatting a book mean?
Formatting a book is refining the content, layout, and general look of your book after you’re done writing it. It makes your book organized and visually appealing for a reader, editor, publisher, etc.
The formatting process includes things like font size, a table of contents, and how you use spacing. Good formatting adds to the look of your book and makes it something that people want to read.
Why does formatting a book matter?
Formatting matters a lot to those who will read your book. Especially those that read it before publishing, such as editors, as it helps you come across as a professional. Your work will look polished, and it will be easy to find chapters and pages.
Knowing how to format a book for publishing is a key part of creating a book. It isn’t just the writing but also the details and clarity that matter.
Your readers need to see a book with a good layout that’s easy to understand, after all.
10 key tips for how to format a book
When formatting a book, there are 10 important things that you should keep in mind. If you do these, you will be well on your way to getting your book published and ready for readers!
1. Ask the publisher or editor about specific formatting
Before you do anything else, if you are working with a specific editor or publisher, ask them about formatting.
Do they have specifications for formatting? Do they want the book layout to look a certain way?
While there may not be specific instructions, you won’t know if you don’t ask, and that way, you can be sure the book looks the way it should.
It’s worth asking about this because you don’t want to get all the way through the process and then find that your editor or publisher prefers that the book looks different. Ask them in advance, and then you won’t waste time.
The margins are an important part of formatting a book.
If your book has the typical 8.5 x 11-inch pages, then your margins should be 1 inch, and a 6-inch by 9-inch book uses .5-inch margins and .75 for the inside margin, those these may vary.
3. Text size
Typically, the text size for your book should fall somewhere between 10 and 12 in most cases. This makes it easy to read but not too large.
If you’re wondering about font, it’s important that your text isn't distracting and is easy to read. Serif fonts are generally the better option. Garamond is a popular font for books, but you can use another if you prefer.
4. Page breaks
It’s important to use a page break at the end of chapters. It keeps the format of the book neat and is an essential part of making the book look complete.
You can easily add a page break in Google Docs or Word by selecting “page break” or “break”, depending on what program you’re using.
You need to double-space your lines when formatting your book. This is the best way to make the writing clear.
If an editor is looking through your work and making corrections, this makes things simpler for them.
In addition to this, leave only one space after a period. This is pretty typical and is an important part of making sure your book is ready for print.
In addition to other spacing, remember to indent any paragraphs by ½ an inch.
6. Justified alignment
Be sure to justify the text, so it is even on both sides when formatting a book.
When you do this, the words on the right and the left of the page will line up evenly, so you don’t have some lines that are different from others. This detail can help your work to look well put together and uniform.
7. Page numbers
Adding page numbers matters a lot because it helps people to keep their place when reading your work and adds to the overall organization of it.
According to MSU Libraries, you should begin numbering the pages on the very first page of the beginning chapter. Roman numerals can be used for the pages before.
8. Create a system
You want readers to be able to find the chapters they’re looking for, so you need to create a system.
Table of contents
That means you’ll need to add a table of contents, explaining each chapter with the page numbers.
Kindlepreneur explains that you can create your own table of contents in Word by selecting “blank page”, “References,” and then “table of contents”.
In addition to the table of contents, you’ll also need to be sure that you’re including a title page. These examples can help you if you’re unfamiliar with what this should look like.
Endnotes and footnotes
Kindlepreneur notes that endnotes and footnotes both give extra information to your readers. But endnotes are at the end of the book or chapter, while footnotes appear at the end of a page.
A header will be at the top of the pages of your book and is likely to contain the title or author name.
According to Scribe Media, a copyright page contains the copyright notice, the ISBN, and other information like the editor of the book.
9. Tables and images
If you are adding any tables or images to help clarify the story or your writing, now is the time to do so. Go through the book and be sure that everything important is added.
Julie Karen discusses that when self-publishing, you should make sure any images for your book are clear and that charts are easy to understand, in addition to some other things to remember.
10. Sources and attributions
A bibliography page is necessary so that others get credit for any of their work that you discuss in your book.
The way that you reference other works will vary a little depending on if you are using the APA or MLA format for your book.
Maybe you’re thinking all of this seems like a lot of work, and you’d like some help with learning how to format a book for publishing. There are programs that can help.
It can make the process of formatting a book much easier and help you remember everything that you need to add.
Atticus is a great program that will work regardless of whether you are online or not. In addition, when you use it, your book will work with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, and more.
If you’re familiar with Adobe InDesign, you can also use this to format your book. Here’s a tutorial on how to do this, as well, since there’s a lot to remember.
Vellum is another great option for book formatting. It handles many aspects of the formatting automatically, saving you time. It’s easy to use with ebooks or print, so it’s a great resource.
Formatting a book can be easy and help your book stand out!
If you take the time to format your book, not only are you doing your job as an author to make your writing easy to understand and edit, but you’re also helping your book stand out from the crowd.
With a well-formatted book, you’ll be seen as a professional in the writing industry, and it makes a great first impression! And with the programs available to help you with formatting, it’s never been easier.
So now that you’ve created a masterpiece, make sure your work has every opportunity to succeed by using these basics of how to format a book. It’s a valuable skill to have as an author, and your editor will thank you!