Book Formatting: Setting Print Size

Last time we set up the text of the book exactly how we wanted it. The last step of formatting for print books is to set the size you want it.

Createspace offers templates for creating certain size books. These templates are more trouble than they’re worth, making you start again from scratch. If you’ve followed my tutorial, you should already have the book basically looking the way you want it. OR you’re frustrated to the point where you’re willing to just throw money at it. I’m on Paypal. Just saying.

I’m REALLY hoping it’s the former, though.

So now we just have to take your manuscript to date, and set the page size, margins, gutter, and everything else you need. This is the part that took me FOREVER to wrap my head around, but it turns out it’s probably the part that Word makes the most straightforward.

So, to get started, the book printing industry has certain standard sizes:

From the Createspace Submission Guidelines

I pulled this image from the CreateSpace Submission Guidelines. A very handy, but also pretty incomprehensible document. It took me about a month to wrap my brain around.

(For a more visual-friendly tutorial that goes over the same stuff I am, there is a nice tutorial in the Createspace forums , and a good one from Lulu as well)

I like small tradebacks, so this tutorial will be for a 5 x 8 book, but really, the steps are all the same.

1) Save your manuscript as a new file, preferably ending with the size of your book. This will help you keep things straight later. Mine is AGiftOfFlame_5x8.docx.

This is how it the first page of text looks when we’re starting. Hopefully yours looks similar.

2015-12-03 (20)

2) Go to “Page Layout”, and select “Size”. What we want isn’t a default, so go to the “More Paper Sizes” at the bottom of the drop-down.


For the Page Size, set the Width and Height to the EXACTLY the trim size you want. In my case 5 x 8. This is assuming you’re printing a novel. If you have a lot of pictures that you want to go right to the edge of the paper, you’ll need to add an additional 0.125 to the outer edges (so 5.25 instead of just 5).for the bleed. Make sure that at the very bottom, the “Apply To” is set to “Whole Document.” That way, you


3) Next, set the margins. You can do this on this same pop-up, in the “Margins” tab. If you used my template, the margins should already be set to 0.5 all around. The minimums for CreateSpace is 0.25, but I like a little extra, and also, this accounts for the Header and Footer.

Next set the Gutter. The amount you have to add to the Inside Gutter is going to depend on the number of pages your book is, formatted and page-sized. Click OK to get out of the page layout pop-up, and check to see how your pages have changed.

At this point you MIGHT have to adjust your title size and some of the other special Styles. Go to the applicable style and change it there. Easy!

Now that you have your total page count go back to margins. Mine was 322 pages, so I look at the Inside Margin table, and add the applicable amount to the gutter.

From the Createspace Submission Guidelines

Mine is supposed to be 0.625 total, so I could add just 0.125 to the 0.5 there already, and be good. But in my experience with CS, I like to be generous with the margins, just to be sure. I set the gutter to 0.25,

PageMargins, So the inner margin is a total of 0.75”

3)Check the Layout tab to make sure your header and footer are set to 0.25 from edge (or more), but leaving a generous space between your inner margin. I like them set to exactly 0.25.


And that’s it.


Seriously easy (I say after the 4th or 5th time of doing it…).

You now have a book that is sized for print. Scroll through it to make sure that everything looks good, and then head off to CreateSpace or Lulu or wherever you want to self-publish this bad-boy.

Good luck!

Next time I’ll take you through the couple of changes and additions that eBooks need, to look professional. Since you already are using Styles (right?), it’ll be pretty easy.

See you then!


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