Last time I asked the vital question – with Microsoft Office Word, “Are you using Styles?” And the answer is probably, “What???”

I took a lot of classes in high school and college on using Microsoft products. NOT ONE mentioned Styles. Now that might just be because I’m ancient, or it might be because my teachers were. But anyone who uses Word sees that nice box up top to choose the text you want to use, the size you want it to be, and thinks that’s enough. When you start typing in a new doc, there it defaults to something, and you might bitch about Word and how you need to “fix” it every time before you start to work. Then you transfer it to a new file, or publish it as an eBook or import it as your paper book and everything is ALL SCREWED UP.

Well, I’m going to show you how to not only fix that before you even get started, but how to make writing a doc the first time MUCH easier to convert to eBooks and paper books later on.

We’re going to create a fiction novel template.

Click on New. This might be under the round button with the Office symbol on it if you’re using a new version, or File -> New if you’re in pre-2003 mode. In post-2003, it will bring up a pop-up that asks what KIND of new file you want to create. Go to My Templates, then at the bottom of the pop-up there will be the option to create a new document or a new template. Select new template, open that, save it as “BookTemplate”, and you’re ready to go.

(OK – before we actually start and you get mad at me, I’m uploading my templates for this series, and here is the first one: BookBlank. But the best way to learn is to practice. Try to go through the following steps, THEN just steal borrow and use mine, OK :P)


Eventually you will need two basic templates:

  1. A basic one with your print book fonts.
  2. A basic one with your eBook fonts.

And eventually, ones with page sizes and margins set, based off the print book template for different sized books.

I’ll show you how to make the print one today. The eBook will be exactly the same as the base template for the print, but with different fonts if you want.

What essential Styles you need:


Got that? … um, OK, I’ll go Style-by-Style 😛

First – to make a style:

In Word, on the Home ribbon in post 2003 (sorry, you’ll have to look it up for pre-2003, but I know it’s there), what I did was just clear out all the default styles by left clicking on them, then selecting “remove from Quick Styles Gallery,” EXCEPT for “Normal”, “Header1” and “Title”. Everything else will be built on those three. We’ll start with “Title”

Book Title Text

This is for the INNER Title page. You can have it match the font used in the cover, or it can be something else. Just pick something that looks nice big and is readable. Serif, San-Serif, not an issue here.

To make this: Take the “Title” style and right click on it. Select “modify”. This will open a window that lets you rename it, select the basic font, position on page, etc.  Here’s how I have it set up:


But this is just the main page. See the “Format” button at the bottom? The main options you’ll use under there are “Font” and “Paragraph”.

Under Font you can adjust the kerning – aka, the letter spacing – very important to get the right look you want for book and chapter titles.


For every other Style, paragraph is going to be what you have to mess with the most. Remember “Widows and Orphans” from the last post? This is where you go to UNCLICK EVERY THING, so Word doesn’t make your pro-worthy book look like something you’d turn into your 5th grade teacher to make 1 page turn into 2.


For titles, the important part is under “Indents and Spacing” – set everything to 0, Special = “None”, Line Space = “Single” and check the “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”.

You go to “Line and Page Breaks” and make sure that everything is unchecked, although this is the one place your “Widows and Orphans”  might need to be kept together. We’ll get more into that, later.

EDIT: One more thing a reader just let me know – Title defaults to having a border (WHY, WORD, WHY??). Under Format, go to Border and select “None” (First option on the left). That will get rid of it. *smacks Word*


Book Subtitle Text

Should be the same as the Book Title, only smaller. Create it by going to the Styles in the ribbon, and at the far right side (under the scroll arrows) there is an down-facing arrow with a line over it. Click on Title, click on that arrow and select “Save Selection as a new Quick Style”. Name it “Book Subtitle” and just make the font smaller. Like 48 if the Title is 72.

Chapter header text

Can be serif or san-serif. Again, make it readable, but other than that, go wild. This is a good place to match the FEELING of your book. So Romance can be curlicues, Horror can drip blood, Sci-fi can have that sprayed-on look. Or you can go all out and hire or create individual chapter headers in Illustrator or a similar program, and insert them as images. But for now, I’m assuming you just want the basic, Chapter Headers.

Modify the default “Header” the same way you did Title above, only with the font and size you want for the chapters. The REALLY important part with chapter headers is under that “Line and Page Breaks” – you want there to be page breaks BEFORE you chapter title. Try to avoid manually adding chapter breaks to your document.


For “Indents and Spacing”, this is how I set it up:


Section header text

Might not be something your book even has. If your chapters are broken into sections, or your book is broken into Acts or Sub-books, you might need these. Should be smaller than the chapters if sub-chapter, or larger if super-chapter. Make sense?

Body Text

I use Garamond. Why? Mainly because it’s what a friend used when I first started and I liked it. But also because on nearly all the lists of “top 5 print book fonts”, Garamond is on there. Don’t believe me? 12345. My favorite article is this wiki entry though, with its “Keep out of trouble” rules. They don’t use Garamond, but the sizing is still good to know. Feel free to use any serif font (so sorry, no Arial) that isn’t too distracting to the eyes.

How I set it up – using Normal as my base, I modified it to:

Body Text

For “Indents and Spacing”, set everything to 0, and for print, justify the text. If you like the first line indented, under “Special” select that you want the First Line by… and 0.3 is a good little amount without going overboard. NEVER TAB TO MAKE YOUR INDENT!!

Setting line spacing to EXACTLY whatever is a good thing to do with print text. Otherwise, Word tries to pull things on you.


And here is our old frenemy “Widows and Orphans”. Unselect EVERYTHING.


Emphasized Body text

Same text as Body, but italicized. For small sections – like normal emphasis words or single lines of thought – you can just highlight and italicize the body text. But if you have a flashback or whole dream sequence, then a separate Style is your friend.

Page header text

This is for the header – usually says the title on one page and the author’s name on the other one. Pick a font (a good idea is to match the Chapter font) and a size that looks nice. If you have page numbers up there as well, you will need TWO Styles – a left (to go with the left hand pages of your book) and a right (I think you got this).

Page footer text

This is usually for page numbers, unless they’re already up top. Again, font and size of your choice.

Poetry or Quote text

This is to help with the formatting of blocks of indented text, like poetry or quotes. Your book might not have that, but if it does, this Style is a must. The italics is optional – I usually have prophetic *bleep* going on in my book, so the italics serve as a warning to the reader that “THIS SECTION IS BULLSH*T!”


And for Indentations:


OK. That was Styles – specifically the styles for a print book. You will need the same basic ones for a eBook, but with some twists, especially in the Body Text. We’ll go into those later. In the meantime, get used to using Styles. They really do make your whole life easier. And for your convenience – here’s my template:

In the next post I’m going to go over briefly how to set margins for a few popular sizes of Createspace books, which also happen to be industry standard sizes.  Actually, changed my mind. Next time I’ll show you how to bring in a document and USE the Styles we just set up, and how to instantly change it to eBook formatting. THEN we’ll get back to print-book-margin-craziness. Looking forward to seeing you again!


One thought on “Book Formatting: LEARN TO LOVE STYLES

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