Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Typeset a Novel in Microsoft Word

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

This week I had to typeset Tinker (RoboTales, book one) for printing. I love creating new books. It's always an exciting time. I opened a template I made a few years back and got to work . . . and couldn't remember how to do it. Thankfully I had created a handy tutorial a few years back to help other authors, so I downloaded a fresh copy from my website, printed it out, and I was set!

This got me thinking that others might like this information too. So I decided to blog about it.

Now, I realize that few of you need to know how to typeset a novel at this very moment. And even if you do, there are easier ways than doing it in Microsoft Word. You can buy a template to paste your book into, which is a lot less work. But, if you like to have complete creative control and don't want to purchase Adobe InDesign and learn how to use it, knowing how to typeset in Word might be of interest to you. If you have no need of typesetting today but think you might in the future, bookmark this post or click here to print out a version of these instructions to save for later.

1. Save a copy of the document so that your original will be untouched in case you need to start over. Save your new file with something that you’ll instantly recognize as the typeset document, for example Title_typeset.doc or Name_of_Book_final.doc.

2. I also have a file where I keep all my self-published typeset documents, so you might want to create one of those too.
NOTE: If there is any strange formatting in the manuscript—odd paragraphs, weird font changes, anything you may have changed but it keeps coming back—open the document in file in WordPad. Since this is a program with very little formatting options, it will rid the file of anything unusual without removing italics, indentions, etc. Save the document from WordPad, then open it in MS Word and continue.

3. Track Changes. Check to make sure track changes is off and that any lingering changes have been accepted. You may want to do a quick glance to see if any editor comments remain in the manuscript.

4. Font colors. “Select All” in the document (CTRL A) and remove highlighting and make all the text black. 

5. Trim size. Change the page size to the trim size of your final book. Keep in mind that you can choose anything here. You are the designer. But be sure to choose one of the industry standard trim sizes. Most trade paperback books are 5.5 inches x 8.5 inches, so that’s what I’ve used in my example.      
          a. Click on “File,” “Page Setup”
          b. Margins: Top .75, Bottom .75, Left (inside) .75, Right (outside) .5
          c. Mirror Margins = yes
          d. Paper Size = 5.5” x 8.5”  (width x height)
          e. Click “OK” and “Save” your document

6. Style. Adjust the style to make get rid of any special style formatting and chance everything to your normal Word style settings.
          a. “Select All” (CTRL A)
          b. Click “Normal” on the Styles toolbar or in the “Styles” dropdown menu.

7. Font. Change the font to whatever you want. Do keep in mind that you want something legible for the text. Most books are typeset in two fonts: one for the body and one for chapter titles. Don’t worry about your chapter headings for now. Simply make everything in the font you want to use for the body of the book.
NOTE: If you’re not sure which size font to choose or want to see how the chapter titles look, you can print out ONE page of your typeset novel to look at it. Use scissors to trim it to 5.5” X 8.5” and set it inside a book from your shelf to get an idea of how the final page will look. Be careful not to print your whole book.
          a. "Select All” (CTRL A)
          b. Click on the “Font” dropdown menu and select the font of your choice. If you’re not sure which font to use, some recommended fonts are: Garmond, Century, Century Schoolbook, or Times New Roman. I used Garmond for my books.
          c. While all the text is still selected, click on “Font Size” in the “Font” dropdown menu and select your font size. If you want your font to be bigger or smaller, you can change this. I used size 10 for the Go Teen Writers book. But I used size 12 font for my Chokepoint novella to make the book a little longer and to make it match the book that Jeff typeset since I wanted them to look identical.

8. Front matter pages. You have to add pages to the front of the book for the copyright page and title pages. Here is what I recommend, but if you want more or less, it’s up to you. Do keep in mind that the first page of chapter one should start on an odd numbered page.
          a. Hold down “CTRL” and the “Home” key to move your cursor to the very beginning of the document.
          b. Click on “Page Layout,” “Breaks,” and select “Next Page” section break. This will allow you to restart your page numbering. (Any time you want to restart your page numbering throughout the book, you’ll need to insert a “Next Page” section break.)
          c. Hold down “CTRL” and the “Home” key to move your cursor back to the very beginning of the document again.
          d. Now click on “Insert,” “Page Break” as many times as you want, making sure that the section break page is on the page before chapter one starts. If you can’t see where the page breaks are, turn on the paragraph marks by clicking on ¶.
          e. You should now have four or six blank pages before your first chapter/prologue. If you want to add a table of contents, you will need to add more pages. Below is an example from the Go Teen Writers book.

9. Formatting the body. If you haven’t already, select the paragraph mark in the “Home” toolbar (Show/Hide ¶) so that you can see all the behind-the-scenes formatting like paragraphs (where you hit enter), tabs, line breaks, extra spaces, and so on.
          a. Place your cursor at the beginning of the first page of the manuscript (chapter one or prologue). Be sure you’re at the beginning of the first line even if it is blank.
          b. Hold down “CTRL” and the “Shift” key and the “End” key to select all of the manuscript body text.
          c. While the text is selected, double check your chosen body font and size.
          d. On the “Home” toolbar, bring up the “Paragraph” menu. On the “Indents and Spacing” tab…
                i. Justify selection
                ii. Special Indent First Line = .3
                iii. Line Spacing, Exactly 14 points
                iv. Do not set a left or right indention or before after spacing—delete any settings that exist.
          e. On the “Line and Page Breaks” tab …
                i. Deselect all of the checked boxes except for “Suppress Line Numbers.” Leave that one checked.
          f. Click OK
10. Find and Replace. You can use the “Find and Replace” function to seek out things that need changed in your document.

NOTE: While the “Find and Replace” box is open, click on “More” to bring up more options. You can use the “Special” button to show a list of things you can search for in the document. If for some reason the “Find and Replace” search isn’t bringing up things that you know exist, you might check here to make sure the “Match case” option is off.

          a. Deselect your text and hold down “CTRL” and the “Home” key to place your cursor at the beginning of the document.
          b. On the “Home” toolbar, click on “Replace.”
                i. Tabs. Type ^t (shift 6, lowercase letter t) in the “Find” box. Leave the “Replace” box empty. Do not put anything in there, not even a space.  Click on “Replace All” to remove the tabs throughout your document.
                ii. Spaces. Delete the ^t from the “Find” box and type in two spaces. In the “Replace” box, type in one space. Click on “Replace All” to remove the double spaces in your document.  Do this again and again until the window tells you it has made 0 replacements.
                iii. Spaces and Paragraphs. Delete the two spaces in the “Find” box and type in ^p and a space. Type ^p with no space in the “Replace” box. Click “Replace All.” This will remove any extra spaces (false indents) that appear at the beginning of a new line. Click “Replace All” until the window tells you it has made 0 replacements.
                iv. Manual Line Breaks. Delete the ^p space and type in ^l. Click “Find Next” to search for any line breaks in your document. (These happen when you hold down “Shift” and hit “Enter.”) These forced returns will keep the following paragraph from indenting. Replace these manually throughout your document by deleting the manual line break and hitting Enter to get a new paragraph. Watch the ¶ marks so you can see how things change. Check the following paragraph to make sure it is properly indented properly without any leading spaces. (Spaces are noted with a dot in the show ¶.) Delete any leading spaces.
                v. Column Breaks. Do a search for any column breaks (^n) and remove them manually by clicking “Find Next” and making sure you don’t want them.
                vi. Hyphens. Type two hyphens (--) into the “Find” box and type an em dash (—) into the “Replace” box. You can either paste a proper em dash in the “Replace” box by finding one in your document and copying it. Or you can select it from the “Special” list when you click on “More.” Click “Replace All.”  Then do a search for spaces around your em dashes. In the “Find” box, replace the double hyphens with a proper em dash, then add a space before it. Put only an em dash in the “Replace box.” Replace all of them. Do the same for a space trailing the em dash. Do this until there are 0 replacements.
                vii. Find and replace the misuse of en dashes (–) with em dashes (—). Check the leading and trailing spaces as well.
                viii. Ellipses. Decide how you want to format them in your manuscript. You can either use the auto format ellipses (…) or you can use the period space period space period one (. . .). If you use the period space one, you’ll need to do a search for (. . .) once your manuscript is formatted to make sure that none of them ended up at the end of a line and got cut in half. These you will have to fix manually by rewording the sentence so that the ellipses falls together on the same line. If you want to use the auto format ellipses, this won’t be a problem. So, if you do choose the auto format ellipses, do a “Find” for any that might not be picking up the format. Type three periods into the “Find” box without any spaces between (...) and paste an auto formatted ellipses (…) into the “Replace” box. Replace them all. Then do a search for the auto ellipse with leading and trailing spaces and make them the way you want them. You will also want to do a “Find” for two periods (..) and period space period (. .). This should help you make all your ellipses consistent.
                 ix. Quotes and Double Quotes. Do a “Find and Replace” of all the quotes to turn the straight quotes into curly quotes. You’ll do this four times. One for “, one for ”, one for ‘, and one for ’. Paste the same thing into both boxes and click “Replace all.” Sometimes this will cause a quote to turn the wrong way when there is an em dash or ellipses there, but hopefully you or your proofreader will find those before you upload for printing.
                 x. Underlines and Bold. Search for underlining by clicking in “Find” box and type “CTRL” “U” at the same time. Then click “Find Next” to see where you’ve used underlining. If you used underlining for italicized thoughts, you’ll need to replace the underlining with italics. You can click in the “Replace” box and type “CTRL” “I” to do this faster, but I recommend taking your time to check each one before you replace so that you’re sure you want to italicize. Once you’re done, do a search for “CTRL” “B” for bold to see where you’ve bolded things in your document and remove any you don’t want. 

11. Asterisks. Do a “Find” for a single asterisk. This is where you will format your scene breaks. Make sure you format them the way you want them to look in the print book. If you want to use a fun image or dots like ●instead of plain asterisk, replace them manually. I like to get one scene break formatted the way I want it, then copy it. Then I use the “Find” function to go from asterisk to asterisk and paste in my formatted scene breaks. If you want to insert an image, go to “Insert” “Picture” and find the image you want to use. Resize it, center it, then you can copy it and paste it in all the right places.

12. Page Breaks and Chapter Headings. Additional page breaks should only occur between chapters and maybe at the end for your acknowledgements and about the author pages.
          a. Do a “Find” for manual page breaks (^m) and section breaks (^b) and remove any that don’t belong.
          b. You can format your chapter headings anyway you want to. Do a “Find” for the word “chapter” or if you didn’t use the word chapter, you’ll have to search for each number “1,” “2,” “45,” etc. or manually scroll through the document to find them all. Make sure they’re all the same font, size, and start in the same place (count the ¶ marks to be sure). I like to format one and copy and paste it, then go in and change the number or chapter title. You can keep chapter headings plain or get fancy. Below are some examples of chapter headings I’ve done.

13. To add pages to the end of the book. One of the best things about typesetting your own book is that you are in control of what you put in the back. You can cross promote yourself however you want. And you should. Someone finished your book and loves it wants to see what else you’ve written. So put in a list of the other books you’ve written, create JPG ads for your other series and put a few in the back. Maybe even put an ad for your author website, inviting the reader to come connect with you online.
          a. Press “CTRL” “End” to get to the end of your document.
          b. Click “Insert,” “Page Break” to insert a page. Insert as many extra pages as you’d like and make sure you end on an even page number.

14. Headers and Footers. Go back to the very beginning of your document and double click on the page somewhere in the header or footer area. This will bring up the Header & Footer Tools menu.
Here’s how it works. Headers and Footers are connected unless you unconnect them. You can only unconnect them where you’ve placed a section break. So, if you want no page numbers in the beginning, lowercase Roman numerals for the table of contents, numbers for the book, then no page numbers at the end where the acknowledgements and ads are, you will need to insert three section breaks. If you want to change the chapter heading in each chapter, you will need a section break between each chapter.

This can get very complicated. Unless you’re publishing a nonfiction book, I recommend leaving your headers the same throughout the body of the book and even letting the page numbers go through the acknowledgements and ads in the back. But it’s up to you.

Here’s an image of the Header & Footer Tools menu.

I put a yellow box around the buttons that will take you from one section’s header or footer to the next. The button at the bottom, “Link to Previous” is the button that controls whether your headers and footers stay the same of change. If you want them the same, link your headers and footers. If you want them to change, unlink them. You link or unlink on the first page of each new section.

To make things easy, simply center your page numbers and headings and put the same heading on each page, for example: Chokepoint by Jill Williamson. If you’d like to have the title on the right-hand page or above the odd numbers and your author name on the left-hand side or above the even numbers, check the box in the Header & Footer Tools that says “Different Odd & Even Pages.” If you want to have no page number on the very first page, check the box that says “Different First Page.”

If you get stuck on page numbers, I have a video tutorial on the subject at this link:

And there are many others video tutorials out there too.

Insert a page number by double clicking in the footer area and selecting your choice from the “Page Number” menu. Choose whether you want your page numbers on the left, center, or right. Once the number appears, you can highlight it and change the font or size.

For the headers, simply double click in that area of the document, type what you want, and format it.

Here are some sample instructions for how it could be done. If you try it this way as a method of training, you will learn the basic concept. Then you can make changes however you’d like.
          a. Header. Go to the very first page of your document and double click in the header. The header in section one will have nothing in it as these are your front matter pages.  Click the show next button to look at the header in section two.
                 i. Deselect “Link To Previous.”
                 ii. Check the boxes in the Header & Footer Tools menu that say “Different First Page” and “Different Odd & Even Pages.”
                 iii. Deselect “Link to Previous” again as it may have reselected itself. If you accidentally leave this on, it will mess up your numbering.
                 iv. Click on “Show Next” in the Header & Footer Tools menu. This will take you to the even page header.
                 v. Deselect “Link To Previous.”
                 vi. Enter your author name, font Garamond size 10, centered, with one return after the name. Adding a return will give a little space between the name and the body of the page and is easier than adjusting the header and footer margins.
                 vii. Click on “Show Next” and do the same for the title of the book on the odd page header. Don’t forget to deselect “Link to Previous” before making any changes.
                 viii. Click on “Show Next” to see section three. The acknowledgements and author bio page has no header or footer. You will probably need to deselect “Link to Previous” to keep the headers from showing up.
          b. Footer. Go back to the first page of your document and click in the footer. The footer in section one will have nothing in it as these are your front matter pages.  Click the show next button to look at the footer in section two.
                 i. In section two, deselect “Link to Previous.” Click on the “Page Number” dropdown menu and select “Format Page Numbers,” which will bring up the Page Number Format box. Here you can click the button “Start at” and enter a “1” so that your first page will start at one. Click “OK.”

                 ii. Click on the “Page Number” dropdown menu and select “Bottom of Page,” and then select the page number that is centered. The number should appear in your footer. Highlight it and change the font to Garamond, size 10.
                 iii. Click on “Show Next,” deselect “Link to Previous,” and insert a page number for the even page footer. Format it as you did before.
                 iv. Click on “Show Next” and do the same for the odd page footer.
                 v. Click on “Show Next” to deselect the “Link to Previous” for the acknowledgements and author pages in the back. Delete any page numbers if they exist.

15. Embed your fonts. Once your document looks just how you want it to, you need to embed your fonts. This allows you to use fonts that the printer might not have. Embedding the fonts with your file saves that font information in the file so that it’s available to the computer that opens your file. If you don’t embed your fonts, the computer that opens your document to print it or read it will choose a substitution font, and that might mess up your formatting. Simply printing or saving to PDF will not embed fonts.
          a. Click “File,” “Options.”
          b. In the “Options” window, click “Save.”
          c. Under “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document,” check the box “Embed fonts in the file.” Make sure that the “Do not embed common system fonts” box is also checked.
          d. Click “OK.”

16. Save to PDF. Now you’re ready to save your document.
          a. Click “Save as.” Enter the name for the file. And under the “Save as type” dropdown menu, select PDF.
          b. Click the “Options” button. Ensure that the “Document structure tags for accessibility” box is checked. Click “OK.”
          c. Click “Save.”

Congratulations! You have just formatted your manuscript for publication.

Any questions?


  1. Replies
    1. The first time I did it, it took me all day because I was learning. Now I have a template I open and paste my book into, then clean up. Depending on the length of the book and how fancy I want to get, it will take anywhere from a half hour to several hours. If you want to add images to your chapter headings, and if there are a lot of chapters, that will add a lot of time. I'd say average time is an hour and a half.

  2. This would have really helped when I was ordering a proof copy of my book a few months ago. I'll definitely use this when I reformat it :)

    1. I'm glad it will be helpful at some point, Eliza. :-)

  3. I'm not publishing anything, but I want to try this out on one of my old finished drafts. It sounds rewarding! : )

  4. This sounds really neat and I would love to try it. :) Thanks for the tutorial.

    I was curious though, I do not have Microsoft Word; I have Open Office. Can I still do this in Open Office?

    1. I would think so. Some of the instructions might be different, but it should work.

  5. This would have been really helpful when I was formatting my book a few months ago! I learned a lot of this from trial and error, and a bunch from Where Do I Start? by Molly Evangeline. Unlike a lot of how to indie publish books, this one actually gives formatting instructions and the resources that she uses, so I've found it super helpful.

    1. Yes, I spent hours in trial and error too. I'm glad you found a useful book to help you. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. I've used your tutorial several times, and it's made my life SO much easier. Thank you for creating it!

  7. I'm one of those weird people who really loves formatting things like this, so I literally read almost every word of this and I have no intentions of doing it anytime soon, haha. Thank you so much! I had to figure out the page number trickiness a while ago. This would've helped majorly. :P

    The bane of my nine-year-old existence was figuring out how to print and assemble a "booklet" in good old MS Word 2003. Ah, the good old days...

    1. Ha ha. I think I started with Word 97. Yeah, well, even with the tutorial, I got into a crisis today with page numbers and section breaks. I ended up having to cheat, but it all worked out.

  8. I honestly can't thank you enough for this post. If there is one thing I hate about writing, it's the formatting. I don't particularly enjoy using computers in any circumstance so formatting my documents has always been a chore. But now it looks like I have a formatting bible!! Thanks so much for this -- I will definitely use it soon!

    1. I'm so glad it will help you, Chatlotte. Remember, this is only for formatting a book to upload to a printer for self publishing. This isn't how you'd format a manuscript to submit to a publisher. Just clarifying. ;-)

    2. Thanks for the reminder :) I like to print out some of my story as I go just to see what it would look like haha

  9. Ooh, looks time consuming, but this is SO helpful. Thank you, Jill!

    1. Yes, very time consuming... LOL You're welcome! :-)

  10. Wow! And I thought doing the "regular" formatting could be a pain. I now have a new respect for typesetters (or whoever does this at a publishing house). Thanks for sharing, Mrs. Williamson!

  11. This is a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing! I do have a question though, when you are doing revisions to your manuscript, do you make a new document and copy and paste everything into the new one so that the original could remain untouched or do you make revisions to your original?
    My sister asked me this question because she said, "What if you had an amazing idea in your original script that, at the time, it didn't fit? Then when you get to a specific part in your story and you realized that it would fit perfectly, you went back to retrieve it, but you deleted it."

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Obviously, I'm not Mrs. Williamson, so this is just my opinion. :)

      When I start editing, I always create a second document and title it "[Title of Book]--Second Draft". That way my first draft is saved forever and ever. (even if I hate it, lol.) I do this for each subsequent draft, so every draft up to the final is saved. Right now, I have four drafts.

      If you're using Microsoft Word, you can create a duplicate document just by going to the file, left-clicking, clicking "Copy" and then clicking "Paste". That way you don't have to scroll through your entire document copying everything.

      Hope that helps you out!

    2. Yes this helped a ton, thank you!

  12. This is awesome! Definitely saving this for later use.