How to Format Your Paperback Word Document for CreateSpace Publishing

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My novel The Tale of Cloran Hastings clocked in over 300 pages and cost a cool $13.00 to print. In order to make a profit, I had to sell my paperback at $19.99, which, you can clearly see, was not an attractive price for my readers.

One reader hopped on my Amazon.com landing page and offered some advice on how to format my book better to decrease the number of printed pages, reducing production costs. I went through a series of refinements, and managed to trim my novel down by over 100 pages, which saved my readers around $7 without eating into my profits.

Here are some Microsoft Word formatting tips I learned when producing my manuscript for CreateSpace that you should bear in mind when getting ready to publish your novel. Go to CreateSpace here.

Font Size

Originally, I printed my novel at 12 point font. I thought this was a very readable font size, but I learned later that the average font size for paperback book size 10, or sometimes 11.

To reduce your font size, select only the text in your manuscript you want to change. Go to the Home tab, and click the drop-down-box with the number in it to select 10 or 11.

createspace-font-size

Font Type

Next, choose a suitable font style. You do not want to choose a fancy font for the primary reading font of your novel. Fancy fonts are only appropriate for the book title, and maybe chapter headings and drop caps.

You’ll want to use a serif font. Sans-serif fonts are suitable for websites, but serif fonts are more suitable for printed media, like books. Serif fonts have more curves in them, and tend to have little embellishments, like curvy “y”s.

Book of Antigua is a good font for novels. I chose to use Garamond. Use a common font that every computer can read.

To choose a font from Word, click on the Home tab and chose the font drop-down selector next to the font size (see the image above).

Margins

You want your novel to take up less space on the inside margin, where the book folds, and more space on the outside margin to reduce pages. To avoid making some silly mistake, I recommend downloading this free template from CreateSpace:

Of course, you may already have a book file ready and formatted with images and fonts. You can easily edit your current Word file. To edit margins, to to Home > Margins > Custom Margins.

create-space-margins

Paper Size

Novels come in all shapes and sizes. To make your book’s printing cost cheaper, I recommend using CreateSpace’s default paper size–6″ 9″. This will give you a good sized paperback. I do not think it is too big. You can also try 5″ 8″, which will produce a smaller book in the hand, but this will increase the page size of your novel.

From the same dialogue box, choose the “Paper Size” tab and change the size, as so:

create-space-size

Spacing

Here is where you will make your greatest gains in reducing the page count of your book. Your instinct will be to use double spacing, or even 1.5 spacing. Instead, choose 1.15 spacing. This will still make your book readable and easy to scan, but it will save you many pages to print.

Go to the Home tab. You’ll see a little icon in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph pane. Click it to open the Paragraph dialogue box. On the first tab–Indents and Spacing–go to the Spacing pane and manually type in 1.15 in the “At:” section, like so:

createspace-spacing

Tabs

Finally, you can condense it even more by reducing the size of your tabs. The default tab (or paragraph indent, as it is called), of Word is about 1 inch. Reduce this to 1/4th an inch by dragging the top arrow in the ruler. (If you do not see the ruler in your document, enable it by going to View from the primary document tabs and checking the Ruler check-box.)

createspace-tabs

createspace-tabs-2

You can see the paragraph indent reduced in the second example.

And that’s it! Good luck with your publishing!

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Brandon M. Dennis
I'm an author, marketer, and story-teller. I make a passive income that pays the rent by working only one hour each night, and you can too. Subscribe to this blog to learn exactly how I do it. Read my swashbuckling fantasy sea adventure novel, The Tale of Cloran Hastings, and please subscribe to get my future updates delivered straight to your inbox. Click my name to learn more about me.