Shoestring Formatting (for eBooks)

Updated: Sep 8


Okay, so you have your final draft ready to go. You're ready to publish that puppy and start making some money and earning some fame, right?

Not quite. There are a few more things you need before hitting that submit button. One is a good cover, and the other is the formatting of your manuscript. Neither is a deal breaker. Or a bank account breaker either, if you follow my tips.

Chances are most of you have access to Word software. If you don't, you can always subscribe to the monthly access and then cancel it once your formatting is done. (Under $10.) The first thing to do once your manuscript is finished is to modify your Normal Style to what you want. In the later versions of Word, you can do this by clicking on the home tab and then on the small little arrow in the bottom right corner of the Styles box.

This will bring up your Styles box on the right side of your screen. If you hover your cursor over the Normal option, a drop-down arrow will appear. Clicking on that arrow will open up a list with the choice available to modify the settings.

Once you have selected that, it will pop up a little screen-in-screen that will allow you to make changes to your overall Normal Style. Personally, I use Times New Roman (TNR) font and size 12. Whatever you prefer, within reason, is fine. I recommend going with TNR or Arial.

When your font and size have been set, click the Format button at the bottom of the pop-up box and select the paragraph formatting option. On this screen, you should select left align, and your outline level should be body text. Then under special, chose First Line and 0.5 for the first line indentation. The four boxes to the left should all be set at zero. Set your line spacing to single, and select OK to save your changes.

Easy-peasy, right?

Next. hit your Control button and the A on your keyboard at the same time. This selects all of your text. Once all of the text has been highlighted, click on the Normal line in the styles box. Your entire manuscript should now be formatted with your settings in place.

One word of caution. Never use tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs. They are evil and can cause you a lot of problems when you start formatting. The good news is that you can do a simple find and replace for them. For tab, enter ^t in the find space and just leave the replace box blank. This will get rid of all those nasty little buggers that are fouling up your document. Amazing how they sneak in when (and where) we least expect it.

Your manuscript is almost ready. Take the time now to add a title page and a copyright page. (You can click on the look inside feature on some Amazon books to get a feel for what you might want them to look like.) You can also add an About the Author Page after the ending of your book, if you like.