Formatting poetry books

Poetry has a unique power to touch hearts, inspire thoughts, and stir emotions. However, to present your poetry in the best possible light, correct formatting is crucial. This article will guide you through the process of formatting your poetry book for both print and eBook formats.

1. Organizing Your Poetry Collection

Selecting and Sequencing Your Poems

Begin by deciding which poems to include in your collection. Arrange them in a sequence that creates a flow, whether thematically, chronologically, or using another logical pattern.

Dividing Into Sections

If your collection covers different themes or periods, consider dividing your book into sections. Each section can have its own title or simply be numbered.

2. Formatting Your Poetry Manuscript

Handling Line Breaks and Spacing

Poetry formatting can be quite different from prose. Your lines may be shorter, and you might use unconventional spacing for artistic effect. Be consistent with your line breaks and spacing to ensure your poems’ integrity and impact remain intact.

Font Selection

Choose a font that complements your poetry. Serif fonts are often used for their readability, but sans-serif can also work. Make sure the font you select does not distract from the poetry itself.


This post is about formatting books of poetry for print and ebook.

You can start with the templates from DIYbookformats or just open a new document; but I strongly encourage you to watch the 3rd video and learn how you can make your poetry book go viral with amazing typography and full page images.

Getting started


Word formatting basics for poetry


Making it awesome with Wordswag or Canva

3. Preparing for Print Publication

Deciding on Book Size

The size of your book, or trim size, can affect the presentation of your poetry. Depending on the length of your lines, you might opt for a smaller or larger trim size.

Formatting for Print

When formatting for print, remember to include page numbers, headers or footers, and a table of contents. Allow for a ‘gutter’ margin to accommodate binding, and ensure your text doesn’t get lost in the fold of the book.

Choosing a Printing Service

Select a reliable printing service that caters to your needs, such as print-on-demand or bulk printing. Consider the quality of paper and printing offered, as well as the cost.

4. Preparing for eBook Publication

Formatting for eBook

eBook formatting can be a bit more complex, as it needs to adapt to different devices and screen sizes. To maintain the integrity of your line breaks and stanza structure, consider using a fixed layout eBook format.

Converting to eBook Formats

Poetry books need to be converted into .epub for most eBook platforms, and .mobi for Amazon Kindle. You can use various tools for this, such as Calibre, or hire a professional to assist you.

5. Creating a Striking Book Cover

Your book cover is the first impression readers will have of your poetry collection. It should be visually appealing, intriguing, and reflect the tone or theme of your poetry.

6. Publication and Distribution

ISBN and Copyright

If you choose to self-publish, you’ll need an ISBN for your book. This unique identifier allows bookstores and libraries to find your book. Don’t forget to copyright your work to protect it against infringement.

Choosing a Publishing Platform

There are several self-publishing platforms available, like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Lulu. Research each platform’s terms and royalties to find the best fit for you.

Formatting a book of poetry requires a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of your work’s aesthetics. With these steps, you’re well on your way to creating a beautifully formatted poetry book ready for the eager hands and eyes of readers. 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.

    1 Response to "How to format, publish and market a book of poetry"

    • Avatar Diana Fowler

      Hello Derek,
      I am currently putting together my poetry for e book format. I have watched your videos above and found them very resourceful. I was already going to use images in my book, I take a lot of pictures of clouds and I was going to use them. My question is, can I use the image as a washed out watermark in word for the entire background of the page?

      Thank you for your time,
      Diana Fowler

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