Creating the Perfect file for your book – part 2

Today we continue with a break down of the formatting and design pointers you need to design a file perfect for your book’s interior.

If you missed part one, you can find it here.

#3 – Page Numbers

In this image, you see the Add Page Numbers panel. This screen also displays an option to show the page number on the first page of the section. Like the setting in the Ribbon, you can control whether or not the page numbering appears on the first page of the section. This is separate from the Different First-page option for Header and Footer.

Remember too that linking sections will allow page numbering to continue from one section to the next.

Pro Tip: Add all section breaks and format your sections before you add the Header and Footer content (text or page numbers).

The front matter—title pages, copyright page, acknowledgments, table of contents, and introduction—generally doesn’t include page numbering. Some books, particularly non-fiction books, will include long introductions with unique page numbers, such as Roman Numerals.

Once you’ve selected the Page Number command, you can click “Format” to make changes to the details of the specific page numbers you’re adding.

Be sure to set the number you start on if you’re adding page numbering past the front matter. Your first chapter will likely be Section 2, so the default option to continue from the previous will not work (as Section 1 either has no page numbering or uses a unique numbering set up).

Using what you’ve learned about Section Breaks, you’ll set up page numbers per section. The “Link to Previous” option can be applied to a series of sections to link the numbering continuously even if using multiple sections in the body.

#4 – Margins/Gutter/Bleeds

Lulu tries to make the Margins and Gutter easy for you with some pre-formatted templates. But you don’t need to use these and if you’ve already begun formatting your file it may be more work than it’s worth to paste the contents into a pre-formatted file.

Let’s assume you’re working with your own file and you’ve already set the page size. Is your book going to need to be Full Bleed?

Briefly, Full Bleed means you have content (almost likely images) that should stretch to the edge of the page. If you do, you’ll need to work with a page preset to allow for this. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to do!

What you’ll do is add 0.125” to the margin on all sides of your file. If you’re making a 6 x 9 book and need full bleed, set the page size to 6.25 x 9.25. Then add your content right to the edge of the page, staying aware that the extra 0.125” will be trimmed away.

Pro Tip: If you’re creating a book with a lot of image content and Full Bleed, you should consider using software like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign to create your pages. MS Word and other word processing tools are best suited to text-based content.

I like to save all the common sizes (under File > Page Setup) and a Full Bleed version so I can easily set my page size:

Okay, so you’ve got your page sized correctly. And you added margins and a gutter based on our minimums. But what are these things?

The margins are the space around the edge of the page—the white space framing your text. Go pick up any novel and you’ll find a margin. It’s important to hold to this convention because it makes reading much easier and more comfortable for your reader. Could you imagine a page, top to bottom, edge to edge, covered in words? Yikes.

The margins on top and bottom will also be where your Header and Footer content will live. Be sure to check the Format > Document > Layout settings to position your Header and Footer the right distance “from the edge.”

If you have a 0.5” margin and you set the Footer to appear 0.8” from the edge, adding page numbers will “hide” the actual number behind the content!


Because the bottom Margin is smaller than the Footer! I generally recommend setting the Header and Footer distance to match the top and bottom margins. Once you’ve got your page numbering added, you can tinker with this distance to adjust the position of the page numbers.

Pro Tip: Be careful to check the “Apply to” drop-downs in any formatting panel your working in. If it lists “This section” any change you make will only apply to the section your cursor is currently in! Most often you’ll want to use “Whole document” to keep your settings uniform.

#5 – Text Layout

Alright, you got the page set up and ready to go. Your Headers and Footers are all in place. Now you need to consider the actual layout of the text on the page.

Thankfully, laying out the text isn’t terribly hard.

The most important thing to do when creating your body text and preparing it is to use the same style. Style based formatting is the standard way to apply fonts, spacing, size, color, and any other feature to your text. Control your styles with the Styles Panel from the Ribbon.

I highly recommend learning about styles. They will streamline the text layout and provide you a huge degree of control over your book’s interior design. With style-based formatting you can:

  1. Set the line spacing
  2. Set the text size
  3. Set the font
  4. Create unique styles for different sections (including chapter titles, quotes, lists)
  5. Maintain consistency throughout your file
  6. Position the text on the page consistently

And that’s only a tiny portion of the options you’ll have. Just right-click on a style and select ‘Modify’ to see the entire list of options you have:

The most important and often used options will appear in the panel, and you’ll notice in the image above I’ve expanded the drop down on the lower left. Additional options can be accessed here to further customize your style.

Word also has a handy feature for creating a table of contents using styles. If you apply any content that should appear in the table of contents a Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3. Just use the Insert>Table command and select the Table of Contents options. The table will use your Heading styles to populate a list with the styled text and a page number!

One last thing to consider with your text formatting is some best practices. There’s always some room for customization in your book, but in general, you want to be certain your book is enough like other books that readers will actually read it!

Justified Text – Word will default to aligning your text to the left. But all body text should be set to ‘Justified.” This setting will automatically adjust the kerning and spacing to make your text fill the space between the left and right margins. Go look at any printed book and you’ll see that, aside from the last line of a paragraph, the text is justified.

Line Spacing – There isn’t a hard and fast rule for line spacing, but it is a good idea to increase the space between paragraphs slightly. Usually, 1.25 normal spacing is enough. For the lines themselves, there isn’t any need to provide additional spacing.

Text Size – Text should be 12 points. If you’re publishing a long work and want to reduce page count, 10 point is the smallest you should use. Likewise, for a “large print” edition, use 16 points. For other text like Chapter or Section titles, you should exercise your creativity. Just be aware of your page size; don’t use 48 points in a 6 x 9 book, otherwise, you’ll end up with an entire page just for the chapter title!

Indenting – There isn’t a strict rule, but it’s not a bad idea to indent the first line of paragraphs 0.5” or less.

Finalizing the File

The list and instructions here touch on some common issues self-published authors might run into while creating their book files. But the list is hardly comprehensive. MS Word is a rich and powerful word processor despite being cumbersome to use. There are features upon features available.

Don’t get overwhelmed though. Follow the numerous guides out there (including this one!) and you’ll end up with a working file to publish your book!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: