How to format a book in Microsoft Word
(for Createspace, Lightning Source, or IngramSpark)
This is a guide to formatting your book in Microsoft Word. We’ll be making a 6″x9″ PDF for print; but you can easily change the document to another size. You can watch these three videos, or go through the guide down below. You can start your own document from scratch, or download our free package of formatting templates to get started quickly.
Part 1: Setting Paragraph Styles
How to format a book for print in MS Word – Tutorial #1
Part 2: setting up headers, page numbers and footings
How to format a book for print in MS Word – Tutorial #2
Part 3: Front matter and back matter suggestions
How to format a book for print in MS Word – Tutorial #3
PS. Our FREE book formatting templates have this stuff built in. Click here to download them now.
A Quick Trick for Outlining your Book
Did you know you can drag and drop whole sections around in MS Word (just like you can in Scrivener)? It helps a ton with organization.
How to Format a Book in Microsoft Word
Getting your book ready for print can be both an exciting and a nerve-wracking process, but don’t worry! We’re here to help you navigate the journey. Here’s a step-by-step guide to formatting a book for print with KDP and IngramSpark using Microsoft Word:
Step 1: Page Setup
First, you need to set up your document. Go to
Layout > Size in Word and select your desired book size. If your book size isn’t listed, choose
More Paper Sizes at the bottom and enter your custom size.
Next, set your margins. Go to
Layout > Margins > Custom Margins. Remember, the inside margin (or gutter) should be larger to account for binding. Both KDP and IngramSpark have specific margin requirements based on the page count and size of your book.
Step 2: Line Spacing and Paragraph Indentation
A standard practice for book formatting is to use double-spacing for line spacing and a 0.5″ first-line indent for paragraphs. You can set these in
Format > Paragraph.
Step 3: Choose Your Font and Size
Choose a clean, easy-to-read font for your text. For most books, a font size of 11 or 12 works well.
Step 4: Chapter Titles and Headings
Each chapter should start on a new page. Use the “Heading 1” style for chapter titles and “Heading 2” for subheadings. This allows you to easily create a table of contents later on.
Step 5: Page Numbers, Headers, and Footers
You can insert page numbers, headers, and footers under the
Insert tab. Remember to check the specific requirements of KDP and IngramSpark regarding headers and footers.
Step 6: Front Matter
The front matter includes the title page, copyright page, dedication, acknowledgments, and table of contents. Be sure to follow the standard order of front matter pages.
Step 7: Back Matter
Back matter may include an “About the Author” section, appendices, or a preview of your next book.
Step 8: Saving and Uploading Your Book
Once you’ve formatted your book, save it as a PDF. This ensures your formatting stays intact when you upload your file to KDP or IngramSpark.
Q: What is the best font for book formatting? A: Serif fonts like Times New Roman or Garamond are commonly used for the body text. Sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica are often used for chapter titles and headers.
Q: How do I insert a page break in Word? A: Go to
Insert > Page Break.
Q: How do I create a table of contents in Word? A: If you used Heading styles for your chapter titles and subheadings, you can automatically create a table of contents. Go to
References > Table of Contents.
- KDP Print Formatting Guide: Detailed guidelines provided by KDP.
- IngramSpark File Creation Guide: A comprehensive guide to preparing your manuscript file for IngramSpark.
- Microsoft Word Tutorials: Official Microsoft Word training videos and tutorials.
Remember, every book is unique, and these guidelines are just a starting point. Make sure to check the specific requirements of the platform you’re using, and don’t be afraid to customize your book to reflect your personal style. Happy formatting!
Make your book beautiful… without the headache
Psst… learning to format your own books can be a pain in the ass. It’s easier with our beautifully designed, 100% free templates. They’ve already helped over 20,000 authors publish successfully. Click here to download them all.
Keep scrolling for an in-depth tutorial. You should also check out our NEW book formatting tutorial series (don’t worry, it’s free too).
How to format a book in Microsoft Word (with pictures)
Open a new document. Click “size”>> “More paper sizes” and set the document to 6”x9” (or your book size).
Then set the margins and gutter. Make sure to apply to the “whole document” instead of “this section.”
I set this one to 1″ margins on the top and bottom (a bit too much on the top). The “Gutter” is extra space on the inside. Recently (2014) I’ve noticed that Createspace book spines are much more glued-together, so the gutter may need to be a little bigger. Copy and paste your text into the document (or, if you’ve already been writing in Word, save the document as a new file (to be safe) and then start formatting.
Highlight some text and click on the “line options” tab. Set the indent for the first line of paragraphs to .2 or so (I started with .3, but that’s too much).
Make sure there’s no space before or after the paragraph, and justified text. Select the font you want to use. With that text still selected, right click, go to “Styles” and “Update Normal to Match Selection.” Now your whole document is using the “Normal style.”
Then select the first paragraph of your book, click line spacing options again, but set the first line indent at 0.0. This time, right click and “Save the selection as a new style.” Save it as “First Paragraph.”
Next, we’re going to separate all the chapters. This will be really important later when we start adding headers and footers. So put the cursor before any of the text, go to “Page Layout” >> “Breaks” and “Next Page.”
If you’ve done this right, the first page will say “First page Footer, Section 1” and the top of the next page will say “First Page Header, Section 2.”
Click into the headers area (by clicking the space at the top of the page) and make sure you’ve checked “Different First Page” and “Different Odd and Even Pages.”
Because this is the first page of the first chapter, you can begin styling the chapter pages. To make use of Word’s built in Table of Contents function, it’s best to start with Word’s preset “Heading One.”
Just type “Chapter One”, select it, pick “Heading 1” from the styles, then change the size and font, select the text and right-click, then under “styles” click “Update Heading One to match selection.” (I’ve changed the font to no-indent, black, and “Bebas Neue.”) You may want to expand the text by bringing up the fonts menu (Ctrl+D on Windows) go to advanced, spacing and “expanded.”
You should also check to make sure there’s no indent on your chapter title, so that it’s really centered.
If you have a “Navigation” window open on the left side, this heading should show up right away.
Now you may want to style the first sentence. Select the first few words, and transform them to uppercase by going to the “Change Case” button on the Home menu.
Then, to add a Dropcap, put the cursor before the first letter of the first sentence, then go to the Insert panel and click the DropCap feature.
You can change the font of the drop cap to stand out even more, but getting the positioning right can be tricky. If you want the Dropcap to take two lines instead of three, choose “Drop Cap options” from the menu.
Now that our first page is ready, move down to the second page and click in the top area to select the header. Up on the menu, the “Link to Previous” is probably selected. You want to click on it to unlink it (just for the first pages, so they don’t link with the front matter. For the remaining pages, you’ll want link to previous selected). I’ll type in “Book Title”, get the style right and then save it as a new quick style (“headers”).
I’ll align right. If you have “gutter” set up, you can see that the “inside” of the page (on the left) has more spacing. You want to align your headers and footers to the outside, so make sure it’s on the side of the page with the smaller margins.
Then I’ll go into the footers area, click “Insert”, then page numbers>>current position>>plain number. This enters a page number field. Mine starts on page 3. If I want to change this, I could go to Insert>>page numbers>>Format page numbers and then choose “start at #…” instead of “continue from previous section.”
Then I can go down to the next page. Because I’ve selected “Different Odd & Even Pages” I can make this page a little different, by aligning left and typing “Author Name.”
Then, instead of inserting the page number again, I can just select and copy the page number field from the previous page, and paste it into the footer of this page – aligning it left like the header. To check my work, I’ll go to “View” and hit the “Two pages” so I can make sure that it looks OK.
There’s a little too much space between my headers and the content… but that’s because I set my top page margins to 1” (a bit much). I’ll leave it for now. The headings and page numbers look fine, so I’ll go back to View>> 100% and continue on. The whole first chapter should look pretty good now.
If I want to style section breaks I could… a simple way is to use the “First Paragraph” style again with all caps on the first few words, but no dropcaps.
When I get down to the bottom of the chapter, I’ll put the cursor below the text, select Page layout>>Breaks >> and hit “Next Page” again.
Because this is the first page of a new section, and we’ve selected “Different First Page” this page should be blank, with no headers and footers, so you can style it like the first Chapter Page. In Word, it’s hard to line up everything exactly.
The best way to get it 100% consistent is to select and copy from just above the first paragraph to the top of the page, including all the spaces and Chapter Header, and then pasting it the first page of the next chapter. That’s also a little faster than redoing everything manually. Then I can just change the text to “Chapter Two”.
The following pages in the book should have the same headers and footers, and the page numbers should be automatic. So all you need to do is skip through and adding “Next Page” breaks between every chapter, and styling the chapter pages. If your page numbers aren’t working for any reason, make sure the “Link to Previous” option is selected. If they still aren’t connecting, go to format page numbers and “continue from previous.”
You can also just select the page number field from the previous section and copy it into the one that’s broken. If you’ve been setting all your quick styles (first paragraph, normal, header, headings, page numbers) going through the chapters like this should be pretty fast.
If you get stuck with anything, it will probably be with the headings and footers and page numbers. When you finish styling your chapters, switch to Two-Pages view so you can check everything over. Right and left-align can be confusing, even if you are viewing it in Two-Pages mode, because Word may not show it as it actually prints.
Just keep in mind the extra wide margins are the inside gutter, so these are aligned on the outside, even though they look like they will be on the inside. If you’ve been using the “Heading 1” style, Word has automatically been adding in your chapters to the navigation, which you should see on the navigation panel on the left.
So let’s go back to the front and add the “front matter”, including the table of contents.
Still here? You’re working too hard.
A lot of this stuff is already done for you in my formatting templates. I made them to help indie authors save time and money, without making amateur book design and formatting mistakes. Seriously, you should download the free package. I’ll also send you my email series on publishing books that sell – I’ve been told it’s life changing.
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Adding the Copyright Page, Title Page and TOC
Put the cursor before chapter one and add a new “Next Page” break.
You’ll need these pages: 1. Title Page 2. Copyright page 3. Table of Contents 4. Dedication.
Your title page will want to match the cover pretty closely – see if your designer will give you the fonts he used – you may need to space out the lettering quite a bit. If you ask, your designer can probably save you a transparent PNG of the cover text (just like on the cover, but without the art) that you can add into the title page.
Your copyright page will look something like this (you can use this if you want):
TITLE Copyright © 2023 by Author Name.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For information contact; address www.website.com
Book and Cover design by Designer
First Edition: Month 2023
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” on the bottom refers to the editions, so if it goes until “1” it means first edition. If this was the fourth edition, you’d write: “10 9 8 7 6 5 4”. These numbers should be close to the bottom of the page. It can be centered, left or right aligned, and with much smaller font size (9 or 10).
If you’re indie publishing, the copyright page isn’t a big deal – in fact you can stand out by using something more creative. I tend to use a simple message like “Feel free to share this – just don’t try to pass it off as your own! If you enjoy this book, I really hope you’ll do me the favor of leaving a review. You can connect with me @creativindie.” There’s something to be said for trying to look as professional as possible though, especially with the print book; but I also think it’s fine to “own up to” and even take pride in the fact that you self-published, as some skeptics may feel you’re “trying to hide it” otherwise. Make another “next page” break. Then go to the “references” tab and hit Table of Contents.
You should get an automatic Table of Contents. You may need to delete some areas, or change the fonts and styles (if you do, make sure to save it as a new style… it’s really annoying to keep restyling it if you forget to do this). Because this table is automatic, you can “Update Table” and “Update Page Numbers Only” if you do rewrites or add content later.
For the TOC, you probably need to make the text about 14pt, and add a little more spacing. If this is a novel, you don’t really need a table of contents, but that’s up to you. For the front pages, you’ll probably want to make sure there’s no indents anywhere, so everything is properly aligned.
Be a little careful on these front pages – if a header or footer gets added in, and a later page is set to “link to previous” – then when you delete it on the front pages it will erase the headers and footers throughout the book. Instead, go to the next page with headers and uncheck “link to previous” – then you can delete the headers on the front pages. Also, the copyright page is usually on the back of the title page (on the left hand side), while the dedication, Table of Contents and Chapter One usually starts on the right hand side – this means you’ll have to leave some blank pages in between.
You can zoom way out to see everything together. Sometimes I need to use a real book, or picture the pages on my hand and flip my palm back and forth, to get this right. Note – some books have all chapter pages on the right hand side – if you want to do that, just add an extra blank page by adding more “Next Page” breaks, and make sure they aren’t connected to any headers or footers so they stay blank.
That’s it – I’m going to attach the sample I made for this tutorial, you can download it by clicking these links: Template-sample(.docx) Template-sample (.doc) (They won’t look the same unless you have the same fonts… so the first thing you’ll want to do is change the
Chapter Heading font to something that matches your book. Hopefully you’ve already got a great book cover, but if not, take a look at my huge list of best fonts per genre here.) If you get stuck and are frustrated, I highly recommend finding someone on Fiverr.com. Pay them $10~25 to fix whatever problem you’re stuck on; it’s worth it.
Ps) It can save some time if you learn a few useful keyboard shortcuts for MS Word. There’s a full list here. The one I use the most is “Ctrl+z” which undoes your last action.
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PS. I’m not just some guy on the internet… I’ve got a PhD in Literature, have spoken on book design at publishing conferences around the world, and was featured in CNN for renting castles to use as writing retreats. You can also check out my main book cover design site, or my blog Creativindie.com where I help authors and artists produce and sell their best work.