Book Formatting: Preparing for Print

So… NaNoWriMo ended yesterday, and a few of the prizes have traditionally been to have print copies made of the winner’s books, through Createspace and Lulu. I’ve already had one reader (Pretty sure my ONLY reader), say “So, I’ve got the template. What do I do now?”

OK –

1) Save the template to a place Microsoft Office can see. For everyone post-XP, it’s here:


For people still using XP, give yourself a new computer for Christmas. Windows 7 and 10 are actually pretty nice. If you honestly can’t afford a newer one, drop me an e-mail or Facebook PM – first come, first served.

2) Open the document that you want to turn into a book. When I made the Anthology, I got a WHOLE BUNCH of different formats, Word versions, Scrivener exports, etc., but in most cases, you will be dealing with one book, one format. Here’s what my NaNo for this year looks like, straight from Scrivener:

Book example

Pretty good, right? WRONG. Just kidding – it’s OK, but it needs to be better if we want to print this sucker.

3) Open up a new Word document by going to New -> My Templates -> BookBlank and create a New Document (it’s the default at the bottom right, so no worries). Like this:


4) Copy your document and – in the new document you’ve made from your template – click on the drop down Paste, select “Merge Formatting”


This SHOULD paste your entire document into your New Document, and use the Template’s default formatting instead of your old, icky formatting. Here’s how mine looks now:


Ooohhh, better… but that’s still not perfect, is it?

First, turn on the “show/hide formatting” (Home -> Paragraph symbol). This can show you a lot of what is tripping you up. I’ll show you how to mass-replace things in a little bit. And as for the rest…. well, that’s what your Styles are for. Sorry, but the rest is going to take hands-on work.

**If your formatting is REALLY messed up (apostrophes are missing, characters are weird, entire sections are in a different font that Word won’t even name), the solution might be to nuke the formatting and start again. The easiest way to do that is to copy the entire document into a new .txt file, then copy from the .txt into the template document. Using the same method as above. It means you have some more work ahead of you – re-italizing things for one – but everything should be in a good state to go forward without any necromantic formatting gumming everything up. I know, I know. Genius, right? Um… I got it from here, along with a lot of other tips on formatting eBooks. A must read, and it’s free.**

5) Before you really get started, there are a few things that many authors who HAVEN’T used styles, or who export from Scrivener, might have as issues in their documents – tabs and double-returns. Fix those by running the following “Replace” functions:



You will probably have to do the ^p^p -> ^p multiple times to get rid of all of them. Just keep hitting it until the “# replaced” doesn’t change. I also found is some of the things imported from yWriter via Scrivener, that there were Soft-Returns (look like bent arrows at the end of lines) and sometimes spaces before paragraph returns. Soft-returns can come in handy in formatting, but will also mess justification ALL up. Get rid of them.

6) Read this lovely blog on what features a book should have.

Next, take a paperback novel in your genre off the shelf and flip it open. Go through the pages and really look at how their publisher did things. Take another and repeat. And another. By the 3rd book you should see trends; by the 7th you should know how you want yours to be laid out. Lets get started!

7) OK – Start with the Title page (a very good place to start!). It typically goes TITLE – Subtitle – Author’s Name. Make that happen. Then highlight the Title and the Author Name, and press the “Title” Style in the Home Formatting ribbon. Highlight the subtitle, and press the “Subtitle” Style. Is the Author’s Name too long? Maybe make it the same Style as the subtitle instead. Easy!

But everything’s all bunched together, right? I see your hand itching to reach for that enter key. NO. Instead, modify the Styles until you have the spacing you want. Like this:


Say you’ve gone crazy, and you want the “Flame” to be in a special font. Not recommended for the Title page, but hey – it’s your book, and you deserve a pretty book. DO NOT HIGHLIGHT “FLAME” AND MANUALLY CHANGE THE FONT. Create a new style instead from BookTitle– BookTitle2. Like so:



And Viola! A completely illegible (but PRETTY!!) Title!


8) I’m going to skip over the Copyright, the Acknowledgements, and the second title page for now. You know how those are supposed to look. It will make your life easier when it comes time to make this bad-boy an eBook if you create Styles for those too. Try to limit the “Page Breaks” you create by hand, and instead create them by using the “Page Break Before” option under “Format -> Paragraph -> Line and Page Breaks” like you did when you created the Section Style.

Speaking of Section Style, the next thing to do is to find all the Chapter headers and use the Chapter Style on them. If you named them all “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”, “Chapter 3”, etc, just search on Chapter and jump through your document that way, changing the headers one at a time.I then looked for the triple asterisks I used as scene breaks (* * *), and created a new Style “Scene Break”, to format those, based on the Section Style, but without the page break, and centered instead of left aligned.

The biggest benefit to using Chapter and Section Styles (based on the default Header Style, remember), is that now you have an auto-created Table of Contents in the Navigation Pane (View -> click on Navigation Pane). This will come in handy for the eBook formatting, and will help you keep track of things in the paperback for now. Most adult novels don’t have Table of Contents, but Childrens’ often do, so it might come in handy for that as well.



9)OK. You’ve found all your Chapter, your scene breaks, your Act breaks and any other between “Body” formatting you have. Next is to find any special INSIDE Body formatting – all prophetic visions, bawdy limericks, etc, and use either “BodyEmphasis” or “Poetry” on those, whichever makes it look more like your dream book.

10)And finally, the NEMESIS: Headers and Footers. Actually, they’re not too terrible, but Word likes to make it more complicated than it has to be. As you saw, Scrivener auto-made Headers and Footers for me. The page numbers are OK, position-wise, but the headers leave something to be desired. For one thing, I want all left-handed pages to have the header aligned left, and right aligned right. I also want the name of my book on the left, and my name on the right. So lets do that.

If you double-click in the header area, it will open the “Header & Footer Tools”. Set it up like below:


Next thing to remember is that your book starts with a RIGHT hand page. The first chapter should be on a RIGHT hand page – aka “odd”, because it starts with page ONE.

Remember Lisa Shea’s nice blog (in Step 6), and how those first 7 pages should go? 1-Title; 2-Copyright (back of the Title page); 3-Acknowledgement page (SHORT); 4- Blank (opposite 2nd Title); 5- Second Title Page; 6-Blank (opposite Chapter 1); 7- Chapter 1. And the Chapter is “Page 1” and the first one with a header that says what you want on your odd (right) hand pages.

What you need to do to accomplish that, is on the 2nd title page, at the bottom of the Title, add an “Even Section Break”. That will make Page 6 the first page of Section 2, and Page 7 the second page. of Section 2.



Click on the header of Section 2, and then make sure on each of the next few pages,“Link to Previous” is NOT HIGHLIGHTED. If it is highlighted, Word will put your header on every page in Section 1, and when you delete them with a mutter of “wtf, Word??”, it will delete them from Section 2. Taking this step first and foremost will save you a WORLD of aggravation. Fortunately, only the first 3 pages are by default “Link to Previous”.


Final step: Type what headers you want. If you want Page numbers and text in the Header, start with the page by inserting a page number from Header & Footer Tools. It’s on the left, and helpfully says “Page Numbers”. There are various positions and styles you can choose from – I would go with “plain” if I were you. The goal isn’t to distract the eye, it’s to let the reader know where they are in the book.

And that should be it! You have a nicely formatted .docx file (sorry Ronnie….), ready to size for a print book, or make a few alterations to become an eBook. Next time, I’ll go into the print sizes, and then we’ll talk about what makes eBooks their own kind of special.

See you then!


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