Formatting Tips From General Style Guides

Formatting Tips From General Style Guides

After getting your manuscript edited, you're ready for the next step - publishing. If you're going through a publishing house, this process will be taken care of for you. However, if you plan to self-publish, you're going to need to figure this out yourself.

But before you publish, there's a great importance placed on making your content uniform with industry book standards, and you do this through formatting. It requires attention to detail, but it doesn't need to be a lengthy process if you know what you're doing.

Why formatting is important

The difference between a seemingly professional and unprofessional book often relies upon a few key details - grammar, spelling and general layout. Layout, of course, revolves around formatting. This is because even without taking note of what the words in the book actually say - you're already judging whether you like or dislike the way it has been formatted.

Consider a top quality book, however it's in size 8pt font. The content may be good, but if it's hard to read, there's a high chance you'll put the book down and not return to it again. This is the same with font type - but why should things be so uniform? Because the book market is hard to compete with as is, and you don't want formatting that sets your book apart in a negative way. After all, uniformity puts more focus on the book content itself, which should be a priority.

General key / guideline

As a general rule of thumb, refer to these details when formatting your book manually:

Font: Times New Romans (unless web entries or submission platforms state otherwise).

Font size: 12pt is the industry standard

Margins: 1 inch on left, right, top and bottom

Page size: Commonly B-Format (198x129mm) can be changed for desired preference

Alignment: Left hand side

Indentation: A half inch at the beginning of a new paragraph (tab space suffices)

Line spacing: Double spaced

Page numbers: Front matter numbered with Roman numerals, otherwise general numbering begins on the first page after the title page

Scene changes: Common to use three asterisks on a single line

Formatting Tools

While most basic formatting can be done through Microsoft Word for free, it doesn't export ePUB files. So if you're looking for other options, here's a brief list you might like to check out:

  1. Reedsey Book Editor (Free)

  2. Vellum ($269 to 399 annual AUD)

  3. Scrivener ($77 annual AUD)

  4. InDesign ($29.99 monthly Adobe Creative Cloud subscription AUD)

  5. PressBooks ($19 to 99 AUD each book)

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