book formatting guide and free design templates

Microsoft Word isn’t ideally suited for print formatting or book design; however if you do it well, your book will be of high enough quality that readers won’t notice. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to do well.

Microsoft Word is a fickle program, and you need to learn how to do everything the right way before you can get your book to look professional. And it has to look professional, or it will be much harder for you to get anybody to read it.

So I’ve put up a whole bunch of book formatting templates on this site, in Microsoft Word, added some tutorial videos, and done all the research for you so that you can design genre-specific book interiors (instead of generic book design that could fit anywhere).

Browse around to find all the free goodies, and please share if you use the templates.

How to Format a Book for Createspace/KDP in MS Word

Formatting a book for print-on-demand services like Createspace or Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) can seem daunting, but don’t worry. Microsoft Word has all the tools you need to create a professional-looking manuscript. Let’s go through the process step-by-step:

Step 1: Page Setup

First, you need to set up your page size and margins. Go to File > Page Setup in MS Word. Set your paper size (for most books, a 6″ x 9″ format works well). Then, set your margins. Remember, the inside margin should be larger to account for binding.

Step 2: Line Spacing and Paragraph Indentation

Next, set your line spacing to double-space and set the first line indent for paragraphs to about 0.5″. This is the typical formatting for books and makes your text easier to read.

Step 3: Choose Your Font and Size

Choose a simple, readable font for your book. Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New in 12-point size are all good choices.

Step 4: Chapter Titles and Headings

Each chapter should start on a new page. To do this, insert a page break at the end of each chapter (Insert > Break > Page Break). Your chapter titles should be formatted as headings. This allows you to create a table of contents later on.

Step 5: Page Numbers, Headers, and Footers

Insert page numbers in the header or footer of your document (Insert > Page Numbers). Remember, page numbers should start from the main body of your book, not the front matter. You can also include the book title or author’s name in the header or footer.

Step 6: Front Matter

The front matter includes the title page, copyright page, dedication, acknowledgments, and table of contents. Each of these should start on a new page.

Step 7: Back Matter

The back matter might include an “About the Author” section, appendices, or a preview of your next book. Each of these should also start on a new page.

Step 8: Saving and Uploading Your Book

Once your book is formatted, save it as a PDF. This will ensure that your formatting stays intact when you upload it to Createspace or KDP. When you’re ready, upload your book following the guidelines provided by Createspace/KDP.

Remember, each book is unique, and these are just general guidelines. Be sure to check the specific requirements of the platform you’re using before you finalize your formatting. Good luck, and happy publishing!

Derek Murphy
Derek Murphy

I'm a location independent book designer (and book marketing genius) working on my PhD in Literature and shopping for a castle to use as a writer's paradise. I write non-fiction and YA.

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