RJ’s Misadventures: Formatting for Print

Screen Shot Print Formatting 2015-05-19 at 11.48.36 AMAbout a month or so ago, I promised myself that I would bring Requiem for the Rift King and Witch & Wolf back into print. I also promised myself that I would learn how to format for print on my own, setting up the print interior exactly as I wanted it.

This is a record of my misadventures as I am working on preparing Storm Without End for print.

I will be breaking this up into a lot of pieces. While this isn't a traditional guide for formatting for print, this will highlight everything that has gone wrong with the process.

Selecting a Trim Size

One of the hardest choices I had to make when deciding to format for print was the trim size. Createspace has many options for trim size. My previous print run had an unusual trim size.

This time I went with a standard trim size. I want to enroll my novels into extended distribution for a chance to get them in bookstores and in libraries. I decided on 5.25 by 8, primarily due to the fact it is relatively close to the original trim size. The benefit? I can fit more in the book. Fewer pages translates to a lower cost.

I also selected cream paper, as I like the color better than in-your-face white. For the exterior cover stock, I went with Matte, which looks really lovely.

Getting Started

Up until this point, I have hired someone to handle the interior formatting for me. I've been a coward, I'll admit it. Learning something as complicated as print formatting is scary!

However, it only looks complicated. I'm now shaking my head at how easy it is once I took the time to figure out what was going on. So, here's how I got started:

I logged into CreateSpace and I clicked the link stating: How to make an interior PDF

I also, from my project's setup screen, used this:

Download a Word® Template
Start with a blank template or formatted template with sample content designed for this trim size.

I opted for a formatted template. I removed the links to them, since the blank and formatted templates are tied to the trim size you select for your project. Go get your own template! If you use the one generated for me, it won't work–not unless you're using the same exact trim size I do.

Once you have your formatted or blank template, you will be ready to begin.

Setting Up the Template

Open your template, save as a different file, and create your master print file for your book. You'll want to keep the blank/formatted template preserved so you don't have to download it again later.

In the template, you're going to see a bunch of chapters (ten of them, in fact) that you can use to format your text.

Create the Appropriate Number of Chapters

For reference, my novels range from 18 to 30+ chapters.

Adjust the Headers

Just as a friendly word of advice: Adjust your headers / footers before you begin this process. Just double click on the header or footer and modify them to your liking.

Warning: Yes, you will have to do this for each template chapter if you do not like how the page numbers are formatted. Author Name and Book Title should auto-populate across all chapters.

Copy/Paste Template Chapters

To begin, highlight the contents of one chapter. Copy it to your clipboard. Make sure you get the blank spaces above “Chapter Number” since it does make a difference.

Go the last chapter of the document. Click on the last character in the chapter. In word, you will need to create a page break. However, you need to use a very specific version of the page break function.

In Word 2010+, there will be a little drop arrow where it says break under page setup in the layout tab. Select Next Page from the list.

This will create a new page for you to copy/paste your next chapter. Rinse and repeat until you have the appropriate number of chapters for your novel.

Note: I use Scrivener with my novel broken up into chapters as individual text files. This makes it extremely simply to do.

Populate Your Chapters

There are several ways you can do this. Here is how I do it:

  1. Click before the first word of the chapter. (In the CreateSpace Template, this is actually a number.
  2. Paste.
  3. Highlight the template text.
  4. Delete the template text.

This preserves the formatting of my text. This won't work if you're using Word, as Word wants to preserve the paper size in addition to formatting. So, if you're using word as your primary text editor, you will have to find a different method of populating your chapters, sorry!

Justify the Text

Text justification is really important. Books look terrible in print without it. So, highlight all of your chapter text and click “justify.” It is the last option in the text layout buttons. (Right, Left, Center, Justify.)

Adjust Your Margins

Amazon has strict rules on what the margins are for printing. You can find them on the link I gave above.

Check your current number of pages. Open up the margins field (Layout, Margins–>Custom Margins.)

Follow the instructions on the page. If the inside margin says 0.75, put that in the field. Outside margin should be set to 0.50.

Once you have confirmed your margins are correct, you hunt and slay orphans.

Hunt and Slay Orphans

Once the text is justified, it is time to hunt and kill orphans. Orphans are single words or sentences on a page. I also have to recenter any scene break glyphs/markers at this point.

In order to slay orphans, I will shift a line from one page to the next (or two lines… very rarely three) from the previous page. Sometimes you can't avoid a line with a single word on it–but you can always backtrack and add a carriage (hard) return here and there to make certain you don't have an orphaned line right before a scene/chapter break.

I prefer 3+ lines whenever possible.

I also shift scene breaks to the next page whenever possible. (This is only done if the scene break is the last thing on a page.)

Use your judgment and figure out what you think looks best.

Some people prefer to fiddle with line spacing on individual pages in order to shift a line to the next page. I don't like this because I can't stand slightly offset text when looking at two pages. I'd rather have an uneven number of lines on a page, which is why I made the choice I did.

That said, if you can adjust the line spacing, it's probably the most elegant method of doing it. I went with easy rather than complicated and persnickety. That was a personal choice.

It's entirely up to you on how you slay your orphans–just make sure you do it. Orphans are horrific.

Populate Your Front Matter

Front matter is the title page, dedication, acknowledgements, copyright page, and so on. Make sure this is all filled out. Also fill out your back matter, which is the About the Author page–and anything else you want to shove at the end of the book.

Table of Contents

Now that you have finalized your print layout, it is time to fill in your table of contents. Try to keep it on one page (or you'll screw up the page numbers!)

Let it Sit & Double Check it Later

Put it down for a few days. Come back and check the work later, when you haven't spent the past 2-4 hours frying your brain on the persnickety nature of print formatting.

So, how did I screw it up the first few times?

I did everything wrong.

I tried hunting orphans before I confirmed my margins, thus creating odd gaps in my novel, which needed to be removed. I didn't adjust the header/footer prior to copy/pasting a lot of templates, which meant I had to fix them all manually.

I added 2-3 extra hours of work just because I didn't know how changing one thing would make other things break.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Constance Burris says May 19, 2015

I love this post. I’m currently playing with Createspace. Like you, I learned that it’s much easier to create a print copy than it looks. I still have some work to do, and this post will me clean my final copy.

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