[Closed] Preparing your book for print  

Estimable Member

Here you will find a series of tutorials which will help anyone interested to prepare their own writing for printing and self-publishing, with hints and tips, practical advice, and short cuts to produce a print-ready file which conforms to current publishing conventions. If you have an artistic eye, it will give you a basis to develop your skills in designing a book by providing the basic stepping stones. If you don't (have that talent), don't worry, by following the steps carefully, you can produce a printed book that anyone would be proud of, that looks professional.

Understand that sometimes the process needs laborious repetition. But remember, you have only one shot at this, and once printed, people will read results you can't change or withdraw. Take the time to get it right

This is not about editing as such, but layout (typesetting as was) and design.

I shall depend on comments to correct any unclarity, errors or omissions readers may discover, and also welcome advice from others to add to the party. Please help me to improve the effectiveness, to help others.

To whet your appetite, and for amusement, pse read an interchange of letters, much to do with layout, much of it true ... here ...


Please keep an eye on message editing dates to ensure you read the latest version, as I'll be correcting errors and omissions on the fly.

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:49 pm
Estimable Member

What this is about

This is a bare bones guide to laying out a book ready for printing so it looks professional.

Throughout, I am assuming that the book is a novel, collection or anthology with text content only. I am also assuming that the WP document produced will be converted to a pdf for direct submission to the printer as a digital file (which will come out exactly as it appears in the pdf). You can submit files in some cases in msWord etc, but I've never done it, and so cannot be sure what scaling or other things they might do in the process. (happy to hear from those who have done it and include it here). If you don't have acrobat pro/distiller or access to a similar programme, there are probably people on this site who will convert it for you by e-mail, as it takes little time to do it. Free PDF convertors are available (see Part 8)

I am not addressing editing here. You MUST ensure your text is fully checked for typos, spelling, punctuation and clarity. This is where those highly critical third parties with eagle eyes can save your bacon (or embarrassment). What I will do is talk about design/layout of text, and include mention of some of the conventions which are normal for a published book. I will mention some copy-editing tips which also are to do with presentation. My thanks go to PJ and Aliya (both qualified copy-editors) for answering my numerous questions on these in my early years of editing.

I use MS Word as a basis for describing the specific actions to achieve the layout required, but this is not a Word tutorial. If you use a different word-processor you should easily find equivalent commands to use. The important thing is what you are trying to do to the layout. For instance, ticking the 'different odd and even' box in Word: if you search for 'odd and even' in OpenOffice help (see below) you will find the appropriate reference and a description of how to do it in that programme. Some cut-down free processors (eg MS Works) lack more sophisticated facilities (such as different odd and even and section breaks which are important for some layout details). BUT the good news is that OpenOffice.org has a free programme which appears to offer these facilities (different odd and even pages, different first page etc) which enable proper headings etc (described below) and accept an input and produce an output file in msWord format. If you don't have msWord already, download Open Office here [www.openoffice.org] Open office also has a built-in PDF generator!

Note: I use Word 2007. The instructions may be different for Word 2003, for instance. (see the summary at the end for Word 2003 and OpenOffice). Normally a search for the topic in Word help will find instructions for your own version or own WP programme. The actual setting boxes are similar. I use Vista, so the superficial appearance of the screen shots will be different

I will work in imperial measure (inches). You will find the option to set the units in your WP to inches or millimetres.

Note: Always save a previous version of the file and number the versions in order, so if you really screw up, you can go back to the last one. Using the 'compare' facility in Word will recapture those changes you don't want to lose and you can incorporate them in the previous version, leaving out the blooper.

What you shouldn't have done already.
The best ms to start with has no special formatting, effects or fonts etc, no manual intervention, just streaming text, with paragraphs (one 'return' key) and breaks where needed (two paragraph/return key strokes) or page breaks for chapters/stories (Ctrl+return). Then just write the words, worry about the words, not the layout (cart before the horse).

Clean up your ms prior to formatting
So assuming you've had your fun along the way, typed in multiple spaces to place that word exactly where you wanted it (it's gonna change anyway), used multiple fonts, font sizes, strange layout, screen layout (for internet) not print layout etc.

We can fix that.

Switch on 'Show formatting' (icon is like a backwards P two verticals) in the Home menu(standard menu toolbar in 2003 and OpenOffice). this reveals:
spaces (mid height dots)
para breaks (backwards P again )
tabs (little arrows)
manual line breaks (little right angled arrows at end of lines, usually generated in text copied from websites)
page break, etc

It's annoying to have on all the time, but use it when checking.

Find and Replace (windows edit facility)
This function can be of vital importance provided you go about things in a logical way and in the right order. Just a few examples. 2003 will do the same as 2007. Open Office will not deal with codes such as ^p in the same way.

Multiple spaces (space bar): For instance, where you have double or multiple spaces (which clearly need to be removed), you can simply put two spaces in 'find' (they won't show anything, but the cursor will move along) and one in 'replace'. You can try it with 'find next' but using 'replace all' will halve the number in multiple spaces. Repeated cycles will eventually reduce them all to one space (when it says '0 replacements made'). But you may not even want that one! You may have put five spaces in front of a para start. Okay, it's now reduced to one, but you don't want that odd space. So (see below for explanation) you search for para break followed by space (this never happens except in these circumstances) and delete the space by replacing it with just a para break. See how clever we can get? This also gets rid of any spaces leading text (maybe caused by earlier editing).

Tabs: You can remove all tabs by putting the symbol ^t in 'find' (it's the circumflex symbol on the caps 6 followed by a t) and putting nothing in the replace box – 'replace all' will whip them all out. Don't worry, we'll fix indents globally later ....

Double or multiple para breaks: You may have composed the text by using two or three blank lines between the text blocks (for the screen or just for devilment). Only one line is needed in print, which means two para breaks (return key strokes). So, for two blank lines put three para break symbols in the 'find' box (one more for each extra blank line you've added), and two in the 'replace' box. (the symbol to insert is ^p, the appropriate number of times). Then 'replace all' and it's done. Don't worry about chapter title spacing etc for now.

For other formatting:-

manual line breaks are ^l (letter 'el') in the find box. With this kind of composing, the 'screen-layout'* paras may be marked by two together, so FIRST replace ^l^l with ^p (one) then replace ^l with a space. Job done!

You can regularise quote marks by replacing " with ' (but the other way round watch out for apostrophes – you have to do some clever follow up replacements of "s, "t, etc.)

Play around with find and replace on a sample text. it really is a massively useful device. find 'font' and 'special' on the box and you will see masses of things you can do - look for italic text, for red coloured text, for formatting marks etc. practice a bit and see what happens - you can use these parameters on both find and replace boxes. some you will get wrong (unexpected consequences) but if you work back you will understand why. In this case, don't use repeat all, just a single replace and see what it does to the text.


First, select all text. (left click on any text and press Ctrl+A (Ctrl and A together)).

In the 'Home' menu,(standard top bar in 2003 and Open Office), select the font you wish to use. Here I would suggest a good, ordinary font with serifs which make it easier and smoother to read. Times New Roman is a good standby, but some people find it a little harsh. Garamond is a softer font which I have used with success. Avoid fonts like Courier, or fonts that draw attention to themselves (except perhaps for chapter headings, but always be moderate. We'll talk about them later). You can select a sans-serif font if you really must, but pick a clear and moderate one. The book is about the content of the writing, we don't want the font distracting the reader, either by its awfulness, or its extreme fanciness! We need a 'magnolia' font.

For TNR 11pt or 10pt is quite large enough. For Garamond, the equivalent when printed is 12pt or 11pt as it is slightly smaller. When you select this ALL text will be that size – don't worry, we'll go back to any titles and fix them later.

Of the four little icons (left, centre, right, full) click on 'full'. This will make the text fit in a block, with straight edges both sides, just like a good page should.

You should now have some regular text without any oddities. Don't worry about any paragraph indents yet, so long as the symbols are there. Don't start doing things to it. It will be fine, trust me!

One thing you should do now or soon is decide whether you want hyphenation on or off. Full justification can sometimes stretch a line so it looks a little odd (usually when there are long words or a string of numbers in it). hyphenation enables it to be a little more even, but then you have some split words. In truth, people are perfectly used to hyphens and mostly they don't register with a reader. But it's up to you. Certainly don't change your mind on this after Part 7 (Tidying Up).

In the next part we will shape the whole of the text up to look like the pages of the book it will eventually be.

*screen layout - as used on websites and internet presentation (no indents, gaps between paras). As opposed to 'print layout' (no gaps, indents to show paras)

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:50 pm
Estimable Member

The next steps will make your text look like the pages of a book. This can be a terrific morale boost for an author, because they can see the reality of the eventual book. I sometimes do this before editing, as it helps the relationship with an author and tends to make them trust that you know what you are about.


Paragraph layout

With all the text selected (CTRL+A), right click on the text and a menu will appear (2003 and OpenOffice same) Select 'paragraph'
A box appears with two tabs.

The first is 'Indents and spacing'. Use these settings to remove all spurious indents etc (you can put specific ones back later if needed) What it will do (when you change the setting to 'first line' and the figure to 0.24" ) is to set the beginning of every new para with an indent. Some of these we don't want (and will correct), but most we do. You may like bigger indents, that's for you to decide, but Word's default default is 0.5", quite big - ok for a letter, maybe not a book. See that bottom left 'Tabs' button in the pic below? click that, in the box that appears, top right is the default setting. Change that to 0.24" and OK. Done! If you add the odd tab later it'll match the global setting.(working out the same things in OpenOffice is not difficult).

fill in the settings and press OK (note units of measurement)

In the second tab (Line and Page breaks)

When you first open this tab up, you may find the boxes have blue in them or maybe ticked (in which case, tick them once to clear). The blue means that some sections only of the whole text have these options ticked. Click on each one twice and the box will end up white and clear as here. Press OK. Activating these settings can only mess up your print.

Right, now you should have a clear, sober text that looks right, on an A4 page.

Let us now make it the right size for your book

Page Layout

Set your paper size to the cut page size of the eventual book. I have set mine to a standard 8.5"x 5.5" paperback.

The page margins in the example here are set at a generous 0.75" each side. With this, you don't have to worry about making the 'inside' margin on odd and even pages bigger to allow for binding. You can make the margins smaller if you wish – but a printer will usually specify they must be at least 0.5". Experiment with the non-zero header or footer measurement and understand how they interact with the main text setting.

In the page layout menu tab, select margins/custom margins/ and a box will appear with three tabs: margins, paper, layout.

Margins – note this should be for 'whole document'


set to the cut page size of your book.


To explain these settings:
We choose 'different odd and even' to allow the positioning of headers to the right or left so they all fall on the outside top corner of the page in the opened book. This also allows different text in the headers (such as title one side and author the other, or title and short story title, whatever you choose). Normally, you would insert the page number also in the header and have no footer. If you simply wish to have no headers, and just a centred page number footer, then you don't need this box ticked (but you will have to use a different setting, exchanging the measurements for 'header' and 'footer')

Note: the size of the font (including the page number) should be a point or two smaller than the body text.

The 'different first page' allows us to blank the headers on a title, chapter start or blank page, which is a normal convention in books. You may also wish to blank footer page numbers on blank or title pages.

Once again, whole document, and OK.

Right, now we have something that looks like proper book pages.

BEWARE! - If you paste in new text into the book at this stage, be careful. First, watch that little icon that appears, click on it and select'match destination formatting' - sometimes this will throw the whole thing into disorder (because where you inserted it was the tail-end of a bold or title, etc) just get to know how to handle it. You can always step back (back arrow) and try again.

Also, you may have introduced some of the options we ticked out at the beginning (widows and orphans etc) Go back to those paragraph formatting pages and check and correct as necessary. If you have to restore the odd indent, a tab can be used (assuming you set the default as suggested above) One step at a time.

Next, we tackle chapter titles etc.

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:51 pm
Estimable Member

Part 3 – Chapter/Story titles

Okay, we now have your ms in book-size blocks of text free from basic layout glitches. But, because we indented ALL paragraphs, we now have titles/headings and the first lines of each text block (chapter/story start/ or section) indented also. These have to be corrected manually.

Note: It may be best to read the whole of this part through once before starting to make changes, as there are a few things here you might want to do at the same time as you move through the book.

Don't worry about the titles yet. Now, you may like the indented first lines in a chapter, if so fine, but normally there are no indents in the circumstances given above (ie following a blank line, if you wish). So you need to put your cursor at the beginning of the text and hit backspace – this will remove the indent (which won't be shown in 'show punctuation' as it's a para formatting, not a tab). To help find them all, just put ^p^p in 'find' and it will find every blank line for you and you can correct the following text start. This is a bit arduous, but listen to the radio or something and just work through it ...

We will talk about the main book titles later.
Now for the chapter headings or story titles. (I'll call them all 'titles'). You have a choice here. Do you want an index? If you do, you can create one automatically if you mark the titles a certain way. This will also enable you to format them all the same easily. If you don't want an index, it may still be easier to follow the same procedure, rather than go to each one and alter it. I'll come back to that lower down.

Vertical Spacing: It is normal to drop titles down the page, the maximum being half-way, I guess, but probably better less. Do this by repeated 'return key' strokes, inserting a blank line every time (using paragraph formatting to insert a space above, say 44pt, isn't accurate – something in word means the spacing doesn't fit with the simple para keystrokes). In collections (see sample below) I've used just three or four (as otherwise your poems disappear off the bottom of the page every time) but in novels, chapter titles can be maybe 8 lines down.

Choose your font: – type and size. The normal thing to do is use the standard body font, maybe at 14pt-16pt (prob no larger). Remember (again) that effects magnify on a printed page. Many people automatically Bold titles, for instance. Be careful! I personally never use bold or too large font, or upper case titles. If in doubt, print out a sample page to view (even guillotine it to size – it makes a difference to the impact) and test it. Also, if you want to use a different font, once again, don't make it too wild, unless you are really sure. Subtle and tasteful is the motto.

Lines of text don't line up across two open pages

Now, here's a trick. Have you looked at any self-published (and even small press) books where the bottom lines of text don't line up? I have.

(Note: The ability to view two successive pages side by side is very valuable. In word, reduce the size by using the zoom - if you have a widescreen it will be easier. In acrobat (pdf format) use menu: VIEW/page display and ticking 'two up continuous' and 'show cover page' – this shows the book as you will see it in reality – odd page on right, even on left. You can create a similar effect in word by temporarily adding a dummy page at the beginning – (but remember the page numbers shown will then be incorrect).

Each page has a number of lines defined by the body text size. So, let us say your text is 11pt. The lines on facing pages will all line up and there will be the same number of them. BUT say you start a chapter using a 16pt font? The text following this will be displaced down (by 5pts), So what you do is this:

Calculate the difference between the title size and the next highest multiple of the standard text lines – in this case 16 and 22 (2x11pt) – this is 6pts. What you do is: select the para symbol (show formatting on) directly above the title text and change its size from 11pt to 6pt. The effect of this is to make the bottom of the larger text sit at the same level as the standard text, so everything under it aligns. It's a small thing, but it's quality, it looks right, professional.

If you have sub-titles on a page in a larger font, you have to make similar corrections. I have also done sub-headings in body text 11pt, and put a 6pt space and a 5pt space before and after an 11pt sub-head, as two 11pt spaces would have looked massive.

Anyway, you get the principle, I hope. always make any insertion that's not body text fit the 11pt pattern (or the body text size you are using)

Formatting the titles

When you've set up one title, just select the para symbols above it you have typed in, including the last altered size one. Use Ctrl+C to copy, then go through each chapter using Ctrl+V to paste the spacings above each chapter title, with no other para breaks present.

It is normal also to leave one or two blank lines below a title, and one below an introductory note, eg:

Now – back to title formatting. Change one title to the size and font and alignment (left or centre for instance), you want. Then, on the Home menu look at styles. With the title selected, move your pointer over 'Heading 1' . as you move, it will change the text to something different. Ignore this and RIGHT-click. A menu appears. Click on 'Update Heading 1 to match selection'. Then go through each of the titles in your book, select them and left click on Heading 1 each time. They will change to your new formatting. (and they are now 'marked' so an automatic contents list can be generated, which can be updated if you make later changes which affect page numbers etc).

Also, if you have made the titles too big or bold, and later change your mind, you just change one of them to the new style and do the 'update ... etc' thing again, and all the other instances will change to your new style also.

If you have subtitles, remember to apply th same rules of consistency to them. If you want them in the contents list, mark them as header 2, if not don't - experiment though, to get what you want.

Okay? That's it for now. You now have the body of a book, with nice chapter/title pages, with lovely text aligned and subtle but effective spacings and fonts.

Next we'll do sections, headers/footers ...

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:53 pm
Estimable Member

Part 4: Headers, Footers and section breaks.

In this lesson, we will deal with section breaks and headers/footers on odd and even pages.

Section Break

You should be familiar with paragraph breaks and page breaks. There is another type of text break called a ‘section break’. This divides sections of text. When you insert these, the default is that each section follows the settings of the previous. Later, I explain how these can be de-linked so each section can have different headers or footers. What the insertion of the recommended ‘section break : next page’ does is to make the following page a ‘first page’ in the section, and because we have ticked that box, we now have different headers and footers on these pages. So we put a section break : next page at the end of the story or chapter text, and the next story, or chapter, with the title heading, has the header/page number blanked (which is the default for this case).

Earlier, we ticked the 'different first page' box in page setup. In the document at present, we of course have only one 'first page' – the very first one. If you look at your file, if you have any headers or footers there already, you will see that they are missing on the first page.

To create new 'first pages' (such as the first page of a chapter, or a section heading page) you insert a section break from the Page Layout/ Section Break menu.

The one you need is 'next page'. You have probably used a 'page break' at the end of the chapter. This break replaces it. Delete the page break and insert the section break where it was. The following page now becomes a 'first page' with no header or footer, same as the very first one. (if you click on them to open the header or footer, you will see a tab that says 'same as previous' this is the default – as we want them all blank this is fine). Carry on for every chapter or section. If you want a page with a title on the face (an odd page) and a blank back (even) say to introduce a section of the book, then you need to place two more section breaks in the appropriate pages (the normal one at the end of the text of the last chapter, and others after the title AND on the blank even page on the back. This means that the title page has no number/header/footer, neither has the blank back, and neither has the next odd page (the start of the next section of text with its own chapter title). An alternative way is to place section breaks at the end of the preceding chapter, and on the blank even page backing the title page. Instead of putting a break after the title, what you do is de-link the two-page section so created from other sections and blank any headers within that section (this is described in the following section of text).

Now, when you are doing all this clever insertion of breaks, please heed this warning. Do them all carefully in sequence through the book, start to finish. I have found that if I insert new ones later, all hell sometimes breaks loose! Existing breaks change to 'continuous' (NOT what we want) and it takes repeated resetting to make them right (god knows why).

Headers and Footers
As I explained earlier, if you don't want headers at all, and only want page numbers centrally at the bottom, forget 'odd and even'. It is still good practice to blank page numbers on blank pages and title pages, so you may still want to do the section breaks etc. If not, don't worry about section breaks or different first pages either. But DO put one section break in between the title/copyright pages and the body of the text as you really don't want the initial pages numbered (we are going to add these later, okay?). Here, I only deal with headers. If you want footers, or headers and footers both, the principles are the same. Remeber if you use footers, or both, to adjust the measurements in the margins and layout boxes (previous part) , exchanging header and footer and top and bottom measurements on both pages, or if using both, putting the 'header' and 'top' measurements in both.

Right . You will find headers and footers on the insert menu.

Pick the first one. Then type in the header you want. As this is an odd page, follow it by inserting the page number. Choose 'current position' to do so.

This will automatically put the typed header and page number on ALL odd pages in the document (apart from 'first pages'). Select the text and the number and apply the font and size you want. Then set the justification to 'right justify' so the header moves over to the outside edge of the odd (facing) page.

Then move your cursor to an even page and do the same, except you put the page number first, followed by whatever text you want. Leave it left-justified. The page numbers are now in the outside corners and therefore highly visible.

Where you have used section breaks, the header default will look like this

Note the 'same as previous tab over on the right. This continues the header from the previous section into this one. If you click on the 'link to previous' above on the menu, it delinks it (the tab disappears) and you can type a different header in. This means you can have chapter names or story names as you wish, as well as the page number of course.

Also note the 'section 2' on the tab – provided 'same as previous' is not shown in succeeding sections, the changes you make will only apply in this section.

I am sure now, that knowing how to do this, you can see the various possibilities.

I must also warn you that in the process of this you will make mistakes, and wonder why the header is on the wrong story, etc etc... the more methodical and careful you are with all these things, the fewer things you will have to redo or unpick.

There! Now your book is looking really professional

I have given you a fairly standard layout. Of course there are many different good layouts. I suggest looking at some of your books from big publishers and just appreciate the variety of spacing, styles headers etc that you may not have noticed before, and maybe find one that suits you better.

Before launching yourself on your great work, it's probably wise to take a dozen pages in a separate document and play about with all these features we have been discussing, until you are fairly au fait with a) how to do things b) things that go wrong and c) how to fix them!

Next ..... opening pages

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:54 pm
Estimable Member

Part 5 Opening Pages

The first two pages of a book should normally be:

1 - Title page - simply Title and Author, centred alignment The title can be 26-28pt (whatever looks comfortable on the page, and the Author's name set below it in a slightly smaller font. Like this:

2 – copyright page – generally centred, can be left justified if that suits you. Font size a couple of points smaller than body text (fine print!).

You can copy these words, suitably amended, into your own book as you wish:

Copyright © John F Griffiths 2007

The right of John F Griffiths to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

First published in Great Britain by
bluechrome publishing
PO Box 109,
Portishead, Bristol. BS20 7ZJ

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 1-904781-63-2

Cover artwork by John F Griffiths © 2006

Prepared for print by John F Griffiths Editing and Design Services

Printed in Great Britain by Biddles Ltd., King’s Lynn, Norfolk

Following pages

these titles can be around 16-18pt)

These can include; Acknowledgements, Dedication, Author's note ... (each having a blank even page following it) ie all on odd (facing) pages

Then Contents

Then Foreword, Introduction, preface, etc. If you have one.

Then a title page (just the title, in slightly smaller font than the first page – maybe around 24pt) (again followed by a blank even page)

Then the main text starts – first chapter or story title.


Remember to put a section break on the even page before the first main text page. This will blank the headers and separate section one from the following main text. Make sure this is delinked from 2 (click 'link to previous' see above), and then delete the headers etc in section 1.

Next ... generate a table of contents

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:54 pm
Estimable Member

6 Generating a table of contents automatically

Place your cursor on the page where you wish to have the contents.

On the 'references' menu, click on table of contents and select the first one

This will insert a table of contents at that point. As you have previously marked all the chapter headings as 'Heading 1' style, you will suddenly find them all listed along with the page numbers, in a neat table.

You can edit this table to the font you are using and for size.

You may also edit the table for presentational purposes. If the contents are very long, you can insert a page break (Ctrl+return) to make it even on a second page. In fact you insert TWO, which causes the second contents page to appear on the next facing sheet, not the back of the first. You also add spaces above the second contents page to match the appearance you have chosen for the other pages, as here:

In the original formatting, the bold section titles appeared with page numbers, these were deleted, along with the line of dots.

If you right-click on the table, you get the choice to update it – either just the entries or all of it (ie the page numbers) If you have changed the layout (so the page now has a different number) or the title, the contents table will automatically update.

(just a note here. I have assumed throughout that your pages are numbered from the start and not restarted, etc. If you find any glitches, check out that this is so)

When you update the table, the formatting will be reset, so it's best to leave it until you have stabilised the chapters and pages, rather than doing it again each time. For contents that are more than one page, this means that any page breaks inserted in the table will also disappear, and this may throw you page numbers out as you have to format AFTER the table is updated so adding an even page again will mean the numbers in the table are one out. What you do in this case is to insert a blank page after the contents table, and when you format the contents at the end, delete that page to compensate for the one you've added within the contents table. This means all your page numbers will be correct. A bit tricky, but just keep your eye on it and it will be fine. If your contents fit on one page, no problems.

If you find things in the contents that shouldn't be there, you should check as you have probably marked other text or other text adjoining the Heading 1 tag. (or 2 or 3) Ctrl and mouse left-click on the content item in word will take you to the item directly via a link.

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:55 pm
Estimable Member

Part 7: Tidying Up

The next exercise may seem trivial, but it's one that is overlooked by many who are skilled in the other elements of preparation, and it's the cherry on the cake in presentational terms.

You see a well turned out book, turn a page and ...

Pick up a book from a big publishing house, leaf through it. Do you see any pages with two or three words at the top and the rest blank? Do you see any long paragraphs which end three words over a page you have to turn? Do you see a sub-heading at the foot of a page and the following text on the next?


But you do in some self-published books.

Typesetters used to 'force' text to achieve this (ie filing edges off lead type characters to fit in the print mould) Publishers today have software that squeeze the spacing of text to ensure they avoid such. This would be very onerous to do manually, so for us self-publishers, we have to do it the hard way.

So, when you are at the end of your editing, correcting etc, and have worked on the text to get everything ready for your book, it's time for a 'tidy up'.

Remember, in Word if you haven't put in a dummy page at the start, the two page display you see is not the one in your book. I always check by making a pdf, and viewing two-page continuous with and 'show cover page'. I look for:

- glitches in the layout that have been missed (eg an indent remaining on a centred title, not always obvious, that puts it off centre).

Switch on the rulers in Word, and you can see that , of the two small arrows, one is indented when you click on the title. It won't show like a tab, because we introduced it in paragraph formatting - remember?

- The text not lining up because I've missed a font size correction (see Part 3)

- A blank line at the foot of a page or at the top of a page – because a text break falls there.

One copy editing convention is to put a centred asterisk in the blank line. I find this a little awkward. You may be happy with such a solution, or even use an asterisk for each text break (ie bigger than a para break), but to me it seems overheavy. My own solution is (because I believe the reader recognises when they turn the page and there is no indent, that a new section of text has started) if it is at the top of the page, delete it (by deleting the para break symbol on the line). If at the foot of a page, displace it using the same technique as is used for the following problems and delete the break (now moved to the top of the next page). Remember when you do delete a text break like this, if you change the text or layout subsequently, the text may move and you've lost the break which then has to be replaced.

- Sub titles at the bottom of a page.

If the title has at least two lines of text under it, it's mostly okay. If not, it needs fixing (see below)

- Inconvenient breaks over facing pages.

Just see if it's comfortable to read. If you have the statement 'She threw the shoe at him' and 'him' is on the next page (or worse, overleaf) then it needs fixing as far as I'm concerned.

Some may say it doesn't matter, and in a way they are technically correct. But, the little extra care will make your book smoother to read – and that is what you need. The whole point of good layout is to present the text so well to the reader's eye that the details of it are invisible – the words and the ideas flow off the page and into the reader's brain without a glitch (that also depends on good writing of course, which is what editing is about). It's also for this reason that conventional layout is used. Readers are used to certain conventions – after all they've been learning them for years. The text should meet these expectations. It's not for the text to 'surprise' – that's for the contents to do.

So how do you fix these things? Simple -- with 'tactical editing'. Every chapter or story can be shortened without losing style or meaning. Look for paras with only one or two words on the last line. Look back through the para for useless words or phrases or ones that can be substituted by shorter versions keeping the same meaning.

Every para you find like that and fix, you gain a whole line at the end of the chapter or page. Play around and practice a bit. Always save a previous version of the file and number the versions in order, so if you really screw up, you can go back to the last one. Using the 'compare' facility in Word will recapture those changes you don't want to lose and you can incorporate them in the previous version, leaving out the blooper.

Sometimes, alternately, you can choose to ADD words, or use longer phrases to create the result you want as well, just enough to say, spill a couple of words over into that last blank line on a page. (don't forget then to go to the next page and delete that original text break, or put in an asterisk if that's what you've chosen)

Make it pretty!

There, you are done. Check, check and check again. Next we'll make a pdf file,and it will be ready to send to the printer.

what we've done is considered crude in publishing terms, but it works. Your DIY results will look like the big publisher's results, with only a bit of personal application and thought. Worth it for YOUR book, yes?

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:56 pm
Estimable Member

Part 8: Converting to a ready-to print digital file

I always input my files in PDF form. This is universally acceptable. Some printers accept word documents, most don't. My problem with Word is, I have no guarantee how it will emerge. Word can have glitches, produce unexpected results. If I convert to a PDF then check that, I know for sure that the printed pages will be exactly the same. I don't know that with a Word submission.

I also use PDF at the intermediate stages for checking the layout and text for appearance, as it is a far more accurate representation than Word provides. For the printing file, however, it is better to produce a higher-grade PDF than the standard. You will find that printers will specify the preferred standards for the PDF. I use PDF/X1a:2001 which is normally recommended as the preferred standard. Ordinary PDF files, Postscript files, InDesign and Quark files can also be accepted (but these latter are converted to PDF and some printers will charge for that), in that order of preference. If you really cannot find the programme mentioned next, use a standard PDF and hope for the best. I'm sure in most cases for ordinary text it will be fine. There are several free PDF generators available on-line (such as Pdf995 or CutePDF), see if you can find one with a higher-than-standard standard. If so, follow the same settings as below. If you are using the free OpenOffice, it has a pdf generator built in. For Office 2007 users, an add-in is available which will create PDF's in Word, Publisher and Powerpoint.


The programme I use to create the higher-quality PDF is Acrobat Professional, working through its 'distiller' programme to convert word documents. If you have this programme, or access to it via a friend, here's what you do:

'Distiller' works like a printer. When acrobat pro is installed, it links to Word. With your finalised Word file open, you go to 'Print' (in the Word drop down menu, not the quickprint on the menu bar). You then have a choice of printers (normally the standard, default printer is selected).

Select 'adobe pdf' and the distiller function swings into action. The first box allows you to click on 'properties' – here you set the parameters for adobe

Click on 'edit' and then the 'advanced tab. If 'preserve overprint settings' is ticked, untick it. Leave the rest alone. If you have changed the setting click 'OK' if not click 'cancel', the previous box with adobe pdf and the PDF/X1a:2001 setting reappears.

even though the adobe paper size seems to be set at A4, the pages will print to the size set in word as this links with distiller.

Click OK

The 'print' box reappears. Click OK. You then go through a normal sequence of naming the file, saying where it is to go, and then distiller produces the pdf file for you.

When this is done, close the Word file. The pdf file will probably have opened automatically.

Check all is well, ie (where applicable):

- All pages are presentable with no glitches, gaps or odd formatting.

- Page numbers are sequential, odd and even sides are correct, the numbers match the contents index. Page numbers/headers or footers are blanked on all title pages and opening pages, and all trailing pages at the end, even if ads for other books or author bio are placed there.

- there are the right number of pages

- all page sizes are correct

- there are no odd markings (eg highlights) left over from editing etc.

- the headers and/or footers are placed correctly against the body of the text, the font type and size, position and page numbers are consistent throughout (this IS an area where errors can be easily overlooked).

- does it all LOOK right?

If all is fine, pack it up, back it up let's get on with the cover!

Next – the cover.

Posted : August 6, 2016 4:56 pm
Estimable Member

Part 9: Cover

If you use a particular printer, like Lulu, there are a range of off the shelf templates which suit popular needs. These will suit many people. But if you want your cover to be individual, to your specification, then you have to do it yourself from scratch. Whereas WP programmes do all the hard work of lining up text, with covers you are on your own. You may have an artistic friend, or have ideas of your own, pictures or designs. Or you can use a simple colour pattern etc. That’s all up to you. All I would say is look around at similar books and get some ideas, especially for the cover blurb, which can be very important.

As I’ve heard it from a bookstore manager, people pick up a book/become interested in a book when they see the cover (and the title of course). Next, they read the blurb. If they like that, only then do they look inside and sample it.

Okay – decide on your design. We’ll take it from there.

What programme to use?

I use Adobe Photoshop. This is an expensive programme, which if you are only doing one or two books, would simply not be worth it. What makes it so good (and there are other equivalent programmes) is the ability to measure exactly the placing of items on a cover and the dimensions. This becomes very difficult with less sophisticated programmes, as you end up holding plastic rulers up to the screen to check things! But with care, you may be able to do it successfully. Remember, though, even 1mm out becomes completely visible on a cover – the human eye is very sensitive. You can create programmes in msPublisher, msPowerpoint, OpenOffice or any such programme. Remember to make sure the resolution of any images is 300dpi or higher (Necessary if you are going to expand it to fit). You can set scanners to 600dpi to make sure. Always get your artwork scanned as a TIFF, which avoids errors caused by digital compression in file types such as JPEG.

The image above shows a cover in Photoshop with the guidelines for bleed, spine and spine text, which are described below.


There are three main sections in a paperback cover: Front, spine and back. The final cover, produced in a pdf file, will be larger than the cut cover. The printer will expect you to allow slightly larger edges for his process, which will crop the cover to size (this is not needed for the internal text ‘block’ as it has white margins all round). So at any edge, 3mm (1/8”) is normally added. Remember this when composing the front and rear text boxes, as they have to be centred 3mm towards the spine to allow for the bleed.

The spine size will depend on the number of pages and the paper thickness employed. For instance, for a 200 page book, I found three different printers gave spine widths of 10, 11 and 13mm (because of the paper thickness). Each printer will provide a ‘spine calculator’ – you type in the necessary information online, and it gives you an instant calculation.

So, to sum up, the cover size for an 8.5”x5.5” paperback with a 13mm spine will be (and I’m using mm to make the differences clearer) approx 216 mmx140 mm.):

so for the final file for print:

Height: 216mm plus 2x3mm (‘bleed’ at top and bottom = 6mm) = 222mm

Width: 2x140mm (front and back) = 280mm plus 2x3mm=6mm (left back, front right bleed) plus 13mm (spine) = 299mm.

It is best to take any pictures or design to the edges, and use a continuous design or picture across the whole cover. If you use a different spine colour, for instance, you have to be absolutely meticulous with your cover design (and your printer has to be good) as any tiny error (even half a mm) will be visible on the spine edge.

Your spine text must be placed exactly halfway between the edges. The text has to have a margin to the spine fold (the printer will specify this) so you must make sure you conform to the guidelines when you pick the font size (and remember different fonts have naturally different sizes despite having the same point size).

For hardback books, you will find appropriate templates on the online websites.

If you are using ISBN numbers (and I'm not describing how they are aqcuired or managed here), Lightning Source offer a cover template generator, which includes the bar code, returned to you by e-mail. If you have a suitable programme, you simply cut the white box with the code in and paste it into your design. If not, you may have to pay the printer to insert it (but make sure you leave suitable space)

As with the internal text, be subtle! Unless you are sure of an effect, avoid too much excess. And always print it out first and test it on people.

The cover shown above was intended to be simple and serious. It was developed with helpful advice from people on this site. My sister, who is in publishing, was looking at the books I'd produced and pounced on it and said - this is good for the subject it covers - it looks like a series! (which was precisely the intention discussed with folks here)


Edited: 1 year  ago
Posted : August 6, 2016 4:57 pm
Estimable Member
Edited: 1 year  ago
Posted : August 6, 2016 4:58 pm

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