Styles and Formatting

Book Template

The link above will download an updated .docx file with paragraph styles I use most often defined. I’ve set them now so the proper style follows automatically so you don’t need to remember to change them. The advantage is you don’t have to wade through the dozens on the list to get what you want. You don’t need to preserve the text. Simply type, select the style and away you go. The article tells you how to customize the styles to suit your book and mood. If you need a style which isn’t on there, say for sub-sections in a chapter, select the styles pane on the far right of the Home Ribbon, then scroll down to find a style you want. Chose modify style and select ‘add to style ribbon’ for ease of access while working.

I’ve also set the margins and headers for what I use for most books going to print, for smaller books you may want slightly smaller margins.

Creating Styles for a template:

Create a paragraph, format it in the way you want, font, size, indent, spacing. Highlight it. Right click on the Style you want to modify, the select “modify from selection”.  Everything in that style will change to reflect your highlighted paragraph.

From this menu, you can control all the formatting for the style. Here’s where you check that your Headings aren’t bulleted lists.

I create the styles and formats I want for the book first, then I write the book in that format, so I don’t have to go back and change it. From here, you can format for both print and e-book, depending on what you do.

You need at least two styles, one for the body of your writing, called ‘body’ ‘default’ or ‘normal’. I like using ‘body’ and rename the modified style to that name. Then I know it’s my format, not the computer’s. If you already have a ‘body’ in your menu, modify from the Selection.

Make sure you don’t have any stray lines on the page which will stay in a different style if you click on them. This is so you don’t find your font etc. changed and you need to go back and fix it.

The other style you must have is ‘Heading 1’ which you will use for chapter headings. In Kindle, the software looks for Heading 1 to create the Table of Contents (TOC) You can have more control creating your own TOC, but we’ll get there if we have time.

Using styles, you can change your entire document from double spaced to single spaced, change the font, font size, margins, indent from one menu.

If you’ve already got the book written. Make a copy of the file, open the copy.

Your writing is probably in ‘body’ ‘normal’ or ‘default’ Clicking on a paragraph will highlight which style you’re in up in that style menu. From there you can format a sample paragraph, and modify the style of everything in that style the same as if you created the styles first.

Beware! Some word processors will overwrite italics or bold with regular text when you change the font. Double check. This is why you work on a copy at all times.

There are some issues we need to look at with already written text.

First is tabs. Ebooks do not work with tabs, so you need to take them all out. First in your ‘View’ Menu click on ‘show non-printing characters’ or ‘show invisibles’ You’ll see your document full of blue arrows and dots etc. The tab is a straight blue arrow pointing right. Highlight it, control ‘c’ to copy, then open the search and replace menu.

That’s the one that says ‘replace’. Advanced find and replace will work, but the extra options can be confusing.  Paste (control ‘v’) the tab into the ‘find’ bar. Leave the ‘replace’ bar empty. Click on ‘Replace All’. This should delete all the tabs from your document. Now you use styles to set the indent.

If you are a double space after period typer. You can do the same thing with the spaces. Select two blue dots, copy and paste into ‘find’ then into ‘replace’ backspace over one dot to delete it. ‘Replace All’ and all your double spaces will be single spaces.

Ebooks don’t play well with too many hard returns in a row. Those are the right angle arrows pointing left. If you’ve double hard returned between paragraphs, you may want to use Search and Replace to fix it.

If you use ellipsis … You’ll want to select an ellipsis, then replace it with an ellipsis you type in the replace bar. This will make sure the software doesn’t split them between lines. Same with n-dashes and m-dashes. N-dash is one hyphen, m-dash is two. Word will ask you which you want when you type so it makes it easier.

Now you’ve done all the formatting scroll through the entire document quickly to look for odd looking paragraphs. Make sure they are given the proper ‘body style’. Put page breaks before each chapter heading if you haven’t already.

Now you’re ready to upload to kindle.

Each site has its own formatting requirements. It is a good idea to look at them.  You will be guided through each step, and will have a chance to check your book before you click the ‘publish’ button.

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Posted by: Alex McGilvery On

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