Formatting: Friend or Foe?

Formatting: Friend or Foe?

As a self-publisher, the interior text for you manuscript could be a huge thorn in your side. The good news is—it doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation in advance you can save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted time. I can only speak for CreateSpace formatting but I assume the “other” publishing groups take you through the same process. For some of you this may be too late to prevent major corrections, but trust me on this one, you want to know NOW! Waiting until you are three days from your book launch and finding out you have to take out all your hard tabs—can result in visible tics and major hair tugging.

So get out your trusty list maker and jot down these steps to a perfect manuscript.

1. Create a Create Space account. Go to You can enter your personal information and set up an account in just a few minutes. You can create a pen name if you wish too. You do not have to give them your tax information until you actually have royalties due to you. This account can just sit there for years so don’t be afraid to set one up now.

2. Okay now, create a title.  Don’t be afraid.  Just make up a title if you like and later you can delete it and make one for your real book when it it is finished.

3. Next they want to assign an ISBN number. Don’t sweat over this either. Just let them assign it and move on.

4. Now you should have a Member Dashboard. In this Member Dashboard there is a tab called, “Set Up”. Click on that and then click on the subfolder named, “Interior”. A screen will pop up wanting you to choose your book size, page colors, etc. look over to the right part of the page and under the blue button that says “Choose Another Size” a couple of inches below that…there is a tiny link that says (it is in blue on my screen) “Formatted Template”. Click on that link and download the template. Now save that template to your computer. This is where you start typing your book.

5. It is a basic template, but it doesn’t have to remain that way. You can change it any way you would like. But remember…do not change any formatting. Do not change page numbers. Do not change margins. Do not change spacing or ANY OTHER FORMATS FOR THE DOCUMENT. You can change fonts and size of font and you can add things but DON’T CHANGE THE FORMATS!

6. Go to the title page and highlight/block the sample Book Title and type in your title. You can always change this so just name it something.

7. Now scroll down to the Author name and highlight it and type in your name. (this too, can be changed at any time).

8. Next is the copyright page…just skip over that for now. It is a whole other blog.

9. Now comes the dedication page….skip over it for now (unless, you already know)

10. Now the Chapter Listing. You need to make a decision here. You need to decide if you want to have named chapters, no chapters, or you are not sure.

11. If you want named chapters, or you are not sure—you will need to just skip over this part for now. If you DO NOT want Named Chapters you need to carefully Block and delete this page and the next page. ALL Chapters must start on an ODD page so you need delete until the acknowledgement page is on the page that the Chapter List was before. Be very careful and do not delete the section break at the beginning or end of the Acknowledgement page. If you don’t know what I mean by section breaks…reveal your codes (if you don’t know how to do this, just type “reveal codes” into your help menu…if you don’t know how to use your help…well you need to learn to do that). So, reveal your codes and you will see your section breaks. DO NOT DELETE THEM! IT CAUSES ALL KINDS OF PROBLEMS WITH PAGE NUMBERING! Then un-reveal your codes.

12. Now go to your first chapter. Name it if you like. If you are not ready to name it just go to the first line of the text (Where it says “Insert chapter one text here.” over and over). Now start typing. After you finish your first sentence, block/highlight the rest of the “fake text” all the way to the end of the first chapter. ONLY HIGHLIGHT TO THE VERY LAST PERIOD OF THAT CHAPTER. DO NOT HIGHLIGHT ANY FURTHER. Once again you will remove a page break and you don’t want to do that. Now, while it is highlighted press the delete button. It will move the whole book “up” and you should have on one page: The Chapter 1 Heading and your sentence. On the next page you should have the Chapter 2 heading and then a bunch of fake text. If the Chapter 2 heading is right under you sentence….you deleted too much (you deleted the page break). To correct this press the undo arrow and get back to before you deleted and try again.

13. Now you are really ready to type. BUT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART…SO READ CAREFULLY! I am going to type a “sample” below and in the parentheses I will tell you what you need to do.

(DO NOT HIT TAB AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR PARAGRAPH. NEVER, EVER , HIT TAB. IT WILL CAUSE YOUR KINDLE VERSION AND SOMETIMES YOUR PRINTED VERSION TO MESS UP!) I am pretending I am typing now. (For us old-timers remember do not put two spaces at the end of your sentence. We are not typing on typewriters anymore and the computer reads the end of your sentences. Only put one space) I am typing all the way to the very end of the paragraph and now I want to start a new one. (now hit your enter key once, DO NOT HIT THE ENTER KEY TWICE TO MAKE DOUBLE SPACES BETWEEN YOUR PARAGRAPHS)

(remember, do not hit tab)Start typing again. We are pretending at this point that we are getting toward the end of the chapter. We are almost ready to end the chapter and we finish the very last word. (now, hit your enter key)

(Now, look at your document. If your next chapter is STARTING on an ODD number page—just move your cursor over to the next chapter heading and do the same thing you did on the first chapter. If the next chapter begins on an EVEN number page you must INSERT A PAGE BREAK AT THIS POINT.) If you do not know how to insert a page break…type it into your help menu and learn how to do it.

**For those of you who want to add photos or graphics….you should add them to your document at this point. Let’s say you want to add a picture at the very end of Chapter One. Right after you hit the enter key—insert your graphic—then add a page break if needed. (please note: CreateSpace requires that all photos and graphics be in 300dpi or above. This means you must scan, or save you file in 300dpi or above and INSERT IT INTO THE DOCUMENT. DO NOT COPY OR PASTE AS THIS WILL CAUSE THE PHOTO TO DECREASE DPI and you WILL get errors on your upload. DON’T ASK ME HOW THIS HAPPENS JUST TRUST ME. INSERT THE PHOTOS OR GRAPHICS.

14. In this way you continue to type your book. After you finish you can go back and name chapters, put in your acknowledgements, and your dedication.

Volla! You have a perfectly formatted manuscript! It will upload easily to CreateSpace and also to Kindle.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Special Note *** Please for the love of Pete…back up your manuscript daily.

Till Tomorrow,



Categories: Self-Publishing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Formatting: Friend or Foe?

  1. Max Misch

    How can we remove the Acknowledgements and/or Dedication pages?

    • There are page breaks inserted within the ‘code” of the document. You can erase these pages by revealing those codes and deleteting the page breaks. The other way to do it is to place your cursor at the beginning of the first word on the page you want to delete and just hit the delete button until you delete eveything on that page and then keep hitting the delete button until the next page jumps up and meets your cursor. You can also find additional information here or just type your question into Google: How to remove a page break in a Word document.

      • Max Misch

        Thanks, but won’t deleting one or both of those pages interfere with the formatting of the template?

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