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Formatting for Create Space

Create Space is a print-on-demand self publishing wing of Amazon and puts out a very nice product – if you know how to format your manuscript properly. Remember: You put garbage in, you get garbage out. While the customer support is very prompt in responding to questions, the site does not maintain a step-by-step style guide as such, simply telling authors to “make it look like a book.” Assuming you’ve already edited and proofread your manuscript thoroughly, I’ve put together the following steps for formatting your manuscript using Microsoft Word 2007 to create the PDF file that Create Space requires for uploading.

1) Paper Size

Select a trim size for your finished book from Create Space’s choices and then open your manuscript and set your page size in the “Page Layout” menu in Microsoft Word. You may have to pick “custom size” and manually put in the paper size you want.

2) Set your margins

Select the entire document and set your margins. Use the “mirror margins” option to allow a wider margin for the book binding.

NOTE: Bound paperbacks are double sided and odd numbered pages will always be on the RIGHT side of a book, however assuming you are displaying your manuscript with two pages showing side by side on your computer, the odd numbered pages will display on the LEFT side of your computer screen. In this case, the larger margins (to accommodate the book binding) will display as the outer margins. Create Space recommends the outer edge paper page margins be at least .5” Inner margins (for binding) will vary by the length of the book, but they recommend .75” for books of 150-400pg

(Confused yet?)

Margin width is one area that you can play with to manipulate the page length of your book. If you have a shorter word count but want to make the book look bigger, set your margins wider (less text on a page). If you have a higher word count but want to print it in fewer pages, set your margins narrower. Keep in mind that the more pages your books has, the higher the production cost will be, which will in turn effect how you set the cover cost (and your profit margin).

3) Add page / section breaks

The simplest thing is to add a page break at the end of every chapter to ensure each new chapter starts on a new page.

Add any front matter such as copyright notices, acknowledgments, dedications, reviews, title pages, etc, then add a section break between the front matter and the first page of text. A section break will allow you to start page numbering AFTER the section break (at the number you choose) so page numbers do not appear on copyright and title pages. To do this, add a section break from “Page Layout” / “Breaks” drop-down menu / “Next Page Section Break”.

4) Add page numbers and headers

Add page numbers to your book either in the header or footer.

The easiest method is to add a page number to the bottom of the page. Simply choose “footer” and select the position in which you wish the page number to appear (left, center, right) and format for size, font, etc.

If you wish to have the title of your book appear at the top of the page, add a header. If you want one page to display your name and the other page to display the title, choose “different even and odd pages” from the header/ footer menu.

NOTE: If you choose “different even and odd pages” and have a page number at the bottom, the header will display fine, but the page number will disappear on every other page.

Assuming you want your name / title in the header and also want all your page numbers to display, you have to jump through a few hoops. To have the headers different on even and odd pages and page numbers, add the page number at the TOP of the page in the header. Select a three column plain header, add the page number to the outside corner FIRST, then add your text to the center position.

If you wish to suppress page number or headers on the first page of a chapter, you will have to add a “Next Page Section Break” between each chapter (instead of a page break) and also add a “Next Page Section Break” at the end of the first page of each chapter – be sure to check the first line on the next page because Word (annoyingly) automatically inserts an indent to that line. (I recommend turning on the “¶” on the Home tab in Word to see all the spaces and other formatting symbols and check for anything that should not be there) Remove the indent and any unnecessary spaces. Adjust page numbers as necessary.

Now, as you go through the document to add the headers in each “new” section, make sure that you “disconnect” the header from the previous section by selecting “link to previous section” – otherwise when you delete the header from your chapter pages, it will also delete the headers on the odd/even pages in the previous section. Once you have deleted the header on the chapter page, you will go to the next occurring odd/even page and disconnect the header again, add the page number and the text – all of the following odd/even pages will be formatted again. (Until the next chapter that is.)

Clear as mud?

Honestly, if you want to suppress headers at the beginnings of chapters, this is the step that will take the most time because of adding all the necessary sections breaks, removing the “link to previous” option in the header, and re-formatting the header and page numbers at the beginning of each new section to continue from the previous chapter (allowing for the skipped number on the chapter header page)

5) Font and size

Select the font and size of your choosing. Generally, simplest is best and the less special formatting you include (bold, italics, underlining) the better. Type size is also important. Too small and the text is difficult to read, too big and the book becomes longer (and more costly to produce)

You may wish to use a different size or font for the chapter headings to make them stand out.

6) Don’t forget to add back matter

Be sure to include an author bio, website information, and teasers for your next book.

7) Proof

Go through the manuscript page by page and make sure that text is not breaking at odd places, there aren’t any blank pages where there shouldn’t be, and all page numbers are sequential.

8 ) Save your document

“Save As” first as a Word document and then a second time in PDF format. Your manuscript is now ready to upload to Create Space.

9) Upload PDF and create your cover

Create your Create Space account if you have not already, fill in the required information about your book, and create your cover image using either your own artwork or Create Space’s wizard (or a combination of both), and upload your file.

10) Purchase Proof copy

Create Space will notify you when your file has been approved and require you to purchase a proof copy of your book before you can make it available for sale. If you find a mistake or wish to make a formatting change, you will not be able to edit the PDF file using this method. Go back to the Word document, make any changes necessary, save your file, then “save as” a PDF for Create Space.

It’s a tedious job, but well worth the time and effort invested to get it right.

Formatting for digital publishing is another story altogether, but generally speaking is easier than formatting for print. If you need some guidance, here is a reasonably priced guide for how to format your manuscript on Kindle and Nook.

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