Print Formatting

As I pointed out at the end of my last post, when it comes to Print Formatting and eBook formatting, I found that that print copy should be done first. With the amount of elements that must be made perfect for a print book, there is sometimes nothing left to do but delete a couple of words, or add a few in. You can’t simply alter your margins or adjust the line spacing to make sure things fit on the page.

Like with the eBook formatting, the most important part of Print Formatting, I found, was uniformity. Ensuring that your print follows the same rules throughout is very important. I want it to look professional, so I followed professional advice.

Roz Morris is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and wrote an article for Writers and Artists about formatting. I found it a wonderful starting tool.

Many people will suggest getting a professional to format a print book, and in some ways I agree that it is something to consider. Unless you have a lot of time to spend on it on making it perfect, you might as well not do it at all. Unlike the eBook, formatting for print isn’t about setting up the general layout, where the individual words and paragraphs will conform to the rules you set out. Print formatting is about making sure every word is in its proper place, that every paragraphs is where and how you want it. Sometimes, there is nothing for it but to delete some of your work.

The first thing to do is to find a great template. You can get a bog-standard one from CreateSpace or LightningSource, but then you’re probably looking at tens of thousands of other writers who have the exact same layout as you. And as your book is not the same as those tens of thousands of others, why would you want it to look exactly the same? I wanted my book to stand out, not only for its prose, but for the way it looks. So, I went in search of a really great template.

I could have made my own if I had the time and skill, but I don’t… and Print templates are difficult. You need the exact right margins on every page, including a gutter. The gutter will be on opposite sides for the odd and even pages and… It’s a lot of work. I found that, even simply inputting my stuff into a pre-made template.

I used one of Joel Friedman’s templates from He creates wonderfully clean and attractive templates, which I like. However, do a search in Google for Print book templates, and you’re sure to find a number of great designers.

One of the elements that I had to be mindful of was that I wanted my eBook and my Print book to fit into the same brand, I want them to be recognisable as the same, even from different formats of the book. Therefore, even though I’d already formatted a couple of copies for eBok, I decided to buy the eBook format as well for Dead and Buryd. Also, as this book is the first in a series, I bought the multiple book option. Yes, this is twice as expensive, but I will want every book to have the same layout, so forking out now for multiple book license will save me money when it comes to the next books.

The template I bought came with its own fonts, so I had to load them into the computer. This takes two minutes and yeah, I don’t even know why I’m mentioning it except to say that as it involved fonts not normally found on computers, I had to make sure that I always worked on it on the same computer. Changing the font might not seem like a big deal, but each font has different size and spacing for each letter, and when you’re fitting them into a specific size… yes, it is a big deal! Having a different font will throw everything (and I mean everything) out of whack.

The first thing to do is to input all the text into the template. This will involve copying the template chapters until you have the number of chapters in your book. I suggest doing that before transferring your prose, as I can imagine that template chapters are shorter than yours.

Once your manuscript is entirely plugged into the template is where the fun (I say fun to be kind. It’s really 3 other F words. ¬†Frustrating, flabbergasting, and fucking annoying) begins.

Turn off Widows and Orphans (as Roz explains in her article,) and I found that it was best to simply work from the beginning on all aspects. You can’t work on your chapter fitting properly into the pages all the way through and then work on hyphenates over two lines, because that will effect your paragraph lengths. So, starting at the beginning and working through keeping everything in mind is the most logical way. Making changes will alter the text after it but not before, so it makes sense to go through start to finish.

Most of it, I found, once the general layout was sorted (ensuring for the right indent at the right time, etc,) that most of the alterations was to do with where I had hyphenates split over two lines. You can’t get rid of them completely, because then your justified text becomes quite stretched. So, for me, it was making sure that I kept to the same rules. For example, I decided that if there were only 2 letters on the first line, I would move it over. Also, hyphenates where I only had a word or two on the last line of a paragraph would be moved over. Names as well. I didn’t want proper nouns hyphenated, but that was a personal choice.

It’s a difficult and frustrating process, but it’s now been sent off to the editor for my final proof reading, so looking forward to getting that back so that I can order a proof copy from CreateSpace and finally have a copy in my hand. That is definitely what I’m looking forward to at the moment. I’ll put up pictures when I have them.


About chelecooke

Self-Published author of the Out of Orbit series and the Teeth series. UCL Residence Assistant, obsessive cross stitcher, avid reader and TV show watcher.
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