How to Format an eBook

Hey everyone! In my post today, I’ll go over the steps included in formatting an eBook in Microsoft Word. I write clean, from start to finish, with no tabs, white spaces, or special characters. My strategy is pretty simple, but if you want to go the nuclear way, that’s also a good option.

Okay, so you’ve finished your manuscript–congrats!! Now what? After it’s edited you need to get it ready for the digital world, and it’s not as hard as you think.

Firstly, make sure you have a suitable font. Don’t use something hard to read, cursive, bold, italic, or a font unrecognizable by eReaders. Times New Roman is a good choice. Cambria and Constantia work, too. Note: I don’t mean you can’t use bold and italics in your writing. There are certain fonts, such as Impact, that fall under the ‘bold fonts’ category. The main body of your manuscript should be an easy-to-read font and set it at size 12.

The second step is adjusting the paragraph settings. Your manuscript text should be justified. In the indentation menu, make sure the first line is indented. What you choose is up to you, but I normally go with 0.7. Next check the spacing. In the past, I’ve used 0 pt before and after spacing with 1.5 line spacing. Now I use 6 pt after spacing with multiple line spacing at 1.2. It can also depend on what genre you write when it comes to spacing. YA books tend to have more spacing while high fantasy tends to have less.

I usually leave all other settings alone. The page settings should be at default (2.54 cm margins all around).

Now you can choose what to place at the beginning of the book. Do insert: Book title, the author’s name, and then the copyright information. Next comes the table of contents.

I like to include a table of contents in an eBook because if your device somehow forgets your place, you can jump straight back to where you were using the table. There are two ways to go about formatting a ToC. The first is under the “references” tab. Before setting up this one, you have to assign your chapter titles with the Heading 1 style on the “home” tab. The automatic ToC will create itself using these headings and fill in the table. It’s as simple as that. The second method requires a bit more work. You manually type out your list of chapters and then link them to your chapter headings. Use the bookmark and link tools under the “insert” tab. Bookmark the chapters through the manuscript and then link them through the ToC.

NOTE: Never use tabs to indent a paragraph or push enter repeatedly to get to the next page. Some eReaders don’t register the spaces and everything runs together in a mess. Use a page break when you start a new chapter, found under the “insert” tab.

The last thing you can add is a page at the end of your manuscript with your information. Aka, the “about the author” section. Don’t just talk about yourself and your books, though. Make sure you include links to your social media platforms. If readers enjoyed your book, they want to stay in contact with you. This is a great way to do that.

Now for the final touches. If you’re uploading to Amazon, you should save a copy of your document out as “Web Page, Filtered” and use that file for Amazon. Other sites, such as Smashwords, have their own style methods so you have to follow the rules closely.

Well, that’s all! Pretty simple, right? Formatting for print is a tad harder, with the headers/footers coming into play, but eBook formatting is pretty basic.

Give it a try, and–as always–happy writing!

~ Sandra


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