In this section, I’ll discuss formatting your book in preparation for publication on Amazon.  This chapter assumes that you are using the Microsoft Word 2016 word processor to format your book.

Note: The following is an excerpt from Amazon Kindle eBook and POD Paperback Self-publishing for Beginners.

Note that I often like to format my manuscript before writing.  I configure my document as described below (exception: I disable Show Paragraph) and begin writing.

Enabling Show Paragraph

In this chapter, we will be applying detailed page and paragraph formatting to your document.  To aid us in this task, it is critical that you be able to see what formatting you’re applying by displaying formatting characters as you edit.  To display formatting characters, enable the Show Paragraph option on the Home menu tab.  You can do this by clicking the button that looks like a large backward capital “P” toward the middle of the Home menu tab at the top of the screen (this is actually a paragraph symbol).  The button will turn yellow to show that it has been enabled.  You can click it again to disable the Show Paragraph option.

With Show Paragraph enabled, you will see all of the formatting characters on the screen as you edit.  Pay special attention to extra paragraph symbols that will add needless whitespace to your book.  Keep Show Paragraph enabled while formatting your document.

Note: After a while, you’ll get used to seeing the formatting symbols. I’ve become so used to these symbols that I quite often forget and write with Show Paragraph formatting enabled.  You, on the other hand, will probably prefer writing without formatting characters displayed.

Adding a Title Page

To add a title page, I always open an existing book and copy its title page, then modify it after I’ve pasted it into my new book.  See the title page for this manual for an example if you’re writing a non-fiction book.  Enter the title page once into a book and reuse it in future work.  For your convenience, here is a title page template:




Version 1.0 – [month], [year]

Published by [author]

Copyright © 2021 by [author]

Discover other titles by [author] at [url]

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Enter the title page above into your book and change the fields inside square brackets to reflect your book.

Note: Another option is to copy the more stylized title and copyright page format that I used for this book.  The title page presented in this section is the standard Smashwords title page format. It’s functional, just not very pretty.

For the version number, I like to use the first digit as a document version counter and the decimal digit as an edit counter.  For example, your first draft would be 1.0, but after copy editing has been performed on it, the number would become 1.1, until the first major modification, 2.1, etc.

If you’re writing a fiction novel, include the following text on your title page after the copyright (exclude the italics):

This book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Defining Normal and Header Styles

Now it’s time to start formatting the contents of your book.  Rather than formatting characters and paragraphs directly, we’ll define styles that can be applied to blocks of text.  There are two advantages to this formatting technique.  First, you can change the style of an entire document by modifying a single style definition rather than changing the formatting that you applied to all the individual elements in the document.  Second, if you use standard Header styles, you can instruct Word to build and maintain a Table of Contents for you.

During formatting, we’ll be defining every paragraph in the document as style Normal, except your chapter headings, which will be formatted with the Heading 1 style.

To configure the Normal style, select the Home menu tab and right-click your mouse over the Normal style.  Select Modify from the pop-up menu.  These actions will display the Modify Style dialog box.

Configure the Normal style to use the font Times New Roman at size 11 with Bold, Italic, and Underscore disabled.  Set the orientation to Align Left and the line spacing to Single Space.  Now, click the Format button in the lower left of the dialog window and select Paragraph from the pop-up menu.  This will cause the Paragraph dialog box to appear.

When formatting paragraphs for a fiction book, I like to put no extra spacing between paragraphs and indent each paragraph.  To accomplish this, be sure the Indents and Spacing tab is selected at the top of the dialog box.  Set Special to “First line” and By to “0.33”.  Set Spacing Before to 0 and After to 0.

To format a non-fiction book, such as this one, don’t indent your paragraphs as explained above and instead place a blank line between paragraphs.  Accomplish this, set Spacing Before to 0 and After to 8 pt.

Conclude by clicking the OK button on the two dialog boxes.

Configure the Heading 1 style in a similar fashion to use the font Times New Roman at size 14 with Bold enabled.  Set the orientation to Align Left and the line spacing to Single Space.  Format the paragraph setting to Special of (none).  Finally, select the Line and Page Breaks tab at the top of the Paragraph dialog box and check the “Page break before” check box.

Continue to configure subheading styles (e.g.  Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.) if your document will be using subheadings.  Configure these headings to be similar to Heading 1 (e.g.  I use italic rather than bold for Heading 3).  Exclude the page break from these headings and add a blank line after by configuring Paragraphs to Spacing Before of 0 and After of 8 pt

The Global Reset: Select All Normal

After writing your initial draft in Word, your book will contain existing style formatting.  To get that style formatting to a known state, it’s often best to reset all existing formatting and start from scratch.

To reset your style formatting, simply select your entire document and set the style for every paragraph to Normal (including your chapter titles).

Here’s how to do this.  Choose the Home menu tab and choose Select on the far right of the menu.  Click on Select All in the pull-down menu.  Now click the Normal style to apply that style to every paragraph in your document.

Note that the global reset option is dramatic and will cause you a lot of work if your manuscript is already formatted.  Use it as a last resort.

Formatting Chapter and Subchapter Headings

The next step is to apply your Heading styles to your chapter and subsection titles.

Search through your document for Chapter titles.  Every time you find one, place your cursor on the line with the title and select Heading 1 in the style list on the Home menu.  Format subsection titles using the Heading 2 – 4 styles.

Note that if each of your chapter titles has the word “Chapter” in it, you can easily search for each chapter title to be set to the Heading 1 style.  To do this, use the Find operation displayed on the right side of the Home menu.

Formatting Hyperlinks

When writing your document, simply record your hyperlinks as part of your text.  During formatting, search for your hyperlinks (e.g.  search for “http:”), and once found, select them by dragging your mouse over the hyperlink text.  Choose Hyperlink from the Insert menu tab (the globe icon) and click the OK button at the bottom.  Your hyperlink text will be blue and underscored.

Formatting Lists

You can insert lists into your book just as you would insert them into any other Word document.  Refer to the list formatting options (e.g.  bulleted, numbered, and hierarchical) on the Home menu tab.

Inserting a Table of Contents

I don’t include a table of contents (TOC) in my fiction books.  I include them in all my non-fiction books. It’s your choice to either include or exclude a TOC.  If you include one, I suggest that you put it right after your front matter (title page, forward and mail list signup offer). Here’s how:

Create a new chapter after your front matter named “Table of Contents” (be sure to make the title a style of Heading 1 so it will be included in the TOC).  Position your cursor within the body of your new chapter and select the Table of Contents operation on the left side of the References menu tab.  Click Automatic Table 1 from the drop-down menu.  Your Table of Contents will be inserted.

Note: I also like to go to the table of contents dialog box via References->Table of Contents->Custom Table of Contents and set Show Levels to 2 so that only Level 1 and 2 Headings are included in the TOC – this keeps my TOC from getting too long.

Also, note that you can keep right-aligned page numbering on since this will be removed by KDP when publishing your Kindle ebook and replaced with hyperlinked chapter titles.

Don’t forget to update your table of contents if you modify or add to your chapter or subsection headings.  To do this, click right-click within the TOC and select Update Table from the pop-up menu.

Including Images

Insert images into your document using the Pictures option on the Insert menu tab.  The Insert Picture dialog box will be displayed.  Simply select the image from your computer that you want to insert and click the Insert button at the bottom of the window.

I found that my images can be approximately six inches wide before they’re cropped on my Kindle eReader.  The height of your image can usually range to upward of eight inches.

You may have to increase or decrease your image sizes after viewing a preview of your book as described in Previewing Your Book.

Configuring the Page Layout

These next two sections are required for Print on Demand (POD) paperback formatting.  I like to apply these modifications to a single copy of my manuscript that I use for both Kindle ebook and POD paperback publication since the Kindle ebook publication process will ignore page size, margins, headers and footers.  Be sure to update your TOC after performing these steps since they will undoubtedly change your page numbering.

Go to the Page Layout menu item.  Configure your Page Size to be 6″ x 9″ (this is trade paperback size and is the least expensive print option).  Make the margins .5″ all the way around.  Go to Margins->Custom Margins and set Multiple Pages to Mirrored Margins.  Then set the inside margin to .75″.  This will make the margin on the binding side of the page slightly larger. You’re now done configuring your Page Layout, so move on.

Adding Headers and Footers

Go to the Insert menu tab and select the Header menu item to add a blank three-column page header.  In the left column, insert your name.  In the right column, insert the name of your book.  Leave the center column empty.  Check the “Different First Page” check box in the Header & Footer Tools menu to create an empty header for the title page.

Before leaving, set the “Header from Top” text field to “0.5” and do the same for the “Footer from Bottom” text field.

Close the Header design menu tab.

Insert a page number in the middle of the footer.  Go to the Insert menu tab and click on the Page Number item.  In the pull-down menu, choose “Bottom of Page” and “Plain Number 2” to insert a page number in the center of your footer.

Note: In this book, I’ve used the center text option to center my book title in the header.  I also made the font size of the header 9 pt and placed a blank line after the header for extra spacing.  Be sure to delete any blank lines after the page number in the footer, and again, I added a blank line before the page numbers in this book for extra spacing.

Close the Footer design menu tab.

Saving Your Work

When done formatting, simply save your word document. You’re now ready to upload your manuscript to KDP for publication.  Now, wasn’t that easy?

I’ll see you in the classroom,