Formatting Word Documents for CreateSpace

Quick Announcement:

Everybody get those hands up! It’s party time!

It’s release day for Passionate Kisses Boxed Set! *Blows horn and throws confetti*

Passionate Kisses Release Promo1

Amazon | B&N |iTunes |Kobo | GooglePlay | All Romance | Goodreads

This is my first boxed set. That’s right; I’m a boxed set virgin no more! But the other 9 authors were gentle with me, LOL! Seriously, I’ve had a blast working with these ladies. I hope you’ll join us all tomorrow (6/24) at our Facebook Party to celebrate our release. There will be games, confessions, prizes, and virtual martinis.

But that’s tomorrow. So what are we doing today? Something probably very boring to a lot of people. But hey, that’s how I roll.

Today, we are going to talk about …

Formatting documents for CreateSpace!

Are you pumped?! I am. I’m not even kidding. I actually am. I love this stuff.

One of my favorite online hangouts is the Self Publishing Info Swap on Yahoo Groups. Click the link to check it out if you’re into SP and want lots of great advice and support. (NOTE: this isn’t a promo group).

Last week, lots of great CS advice popped up on the chat loop, and I threw in my two cents and mentioned I came up with a checklist for myself for formatting a Word document for CS. I invited the original question asker to email me off-loop, and I’d send her the checklist. I got 4 emails within the hour asking if they could have it too!

Hmm, I thought, it seems there’s a need for this information. So, voila! I put together a post to walk CS newbies through the formatting. As always, I have caveats:

  1. You may get a better result if you hire someone reputable to do the formatting for you. But that’s not in everyone’s budget. And honestly, the formatting is not that hard if you have a moderate comfort with Word and a good eye for detail.
  2. Time commitment for formatting yourself will run you anywhere from an hour to half a day. You’ll get quicker the more books you do.
  3. This is stuff I learned from many different sources, including plenty of trial and error. Because this was originally for my own use, I wasn’t as strict with documenting resources as I could have been.
  4. Sometimes I curse because Word pisses me off. I tried to get them all out for this post but might have missed some. You’ve been warned.
  5. If you have a Mac, your SOL. At least as far as this post. Sorry. I’m working with MS Word 2010.

Okay, here we go. Ready?

Start with a document all formatted for ebook

I usually do my print books after the ebook is published. This gives me a chance to make sure the manuscript is as typo-free as possible (it’s been edited professionally and proof-read and beta read enough that I felt comfortable publishing it).

Just so we’re on the same page, here’s a brief checklist for formatting a Word document for publishing to ebook:

  •  Start with FINAL Word doc
  • Open, save in an Amazon folder as ManuscriptTitle_Jessi Gage.docx
  • Format body
    • Single spaced
    • Paragraph indent = 2 notches (2/8 inch)
      • Ctrl + A then drag top triangle over 2 notches (If you’ve done your indents right, i.e. not by hitting “tab”, this will work. If not, go research that)
      • After setting indents, remove indent from chapter and scene headings
          • Starting at top, do a search for “chapter”
          • Search for “* * * *” (or whatever you use for scene breaks)
          • Don’t forget Epilogue
    • Chapter headings
      • Centered at top of page
      • One blank 12 pt line between chapter heading and text
      • Format: “Chapter 1” “Chapter 25” not “Chapter One,” etc.
      • 16 pt font
    • Scene breaks
      • Centered with one blank 12 pt line above and below
      • ” * * * * ” (star-space-star-space…)
      • 12 pt font
    • Get rid of all extra lines
      • Click the paragraph symbol to show all the characters
      • Make sure there are no lines at the end of a chapter between the last sentence and the page break
    • Remove “THE END” if it’s there.
  • Add front and back matter so the book matches previous books (if you don’t have previous ebooks to compare to, look at ebooks others have published and mimic the front and back matter formats you like best)
  • Build table of contents (if copying and pasting from another book, just add bookmarks. Links will automatically recognize the bookmarks)
  • Save document as a web page (HTML)
  • Add the HTML to Calibre and use that to convert to MOBI, PDF, etc.

Now we’re ready to get our document ready for CS

Formatting a Word document for CreateSpace

Before you do anything else, save the document as something like BookTitle_Createspace1 or whatever. Every time you complete a step, it might be wise to save and then start as a new document (BookTitle_Createspace2, etc.). Reason: If you make a mistake, you can always go back to the document representing the last step you completed successfully and start the problem step over fresh.

I got up to BookTitle_Createspace4 before I was happy and ready to upload.

Step 1 Change paper size

Use the Page Layout tab on your ribbon.

CS_image1CS_image2Page Layout -> Size -> More paper sizes

Set your width and height based on your book’s final trim size. I use 5.5 x 8.5 since it’s the standard trade paperback size. Be sure to apply this to the “Whole document” prior to proceeding.

Step 2 Change margins

Customize your margins based on CS’s requirements for your page count:


24 to 150 pages .375″
151 to 400 pages .75″
401 to 600 pages .875″
More than 600 pages 1.0″

Page Layout -> Margins -> Custom Margins.

  • Set all margins to 0.25 except “Inside” to 0.75. Gutter = 0
  • See “Pages” section of window. Select “Mirror margins.”
  • Apply to whole document. Upon saving, you will get an error message. Choose “Ignore.”


  • NOTE: If Createspace finds margin errors after upload, try inner margins of 0.76 and outer margins of 0.26. Don’t forget to Apply to Whole Document.
    • Tried this with Cole, but it changed nothing.
    • Tried inner margins=0.8 and outer=0.3. This resulted in Createspace liking it, but looking at the interior reviewer, there was extra white space on the outer edges. )This didn’t appear in Word, only in the interior reviewer.) It also added too many pages.
    • Tried decreasing the margin space to inner=0.77 and outer=0.27. This worked. Createspace found 2 problems, but upon visual check, they were not actual problems. DING DING DING, we have a winner!

By this point, the document should be looking more book-like. In fact to get the open-book effect, reduce the size of the image (lower right-hand corner) until you see side-by side pages. If your pages appear different heights, that’s because you’re in the view that eliminates headers and footers and any blank space at the tops and bottoms of the pages. Just double click near the top of a page to get the whole-page view.

Also note that the first page of your Word doc will be on the RIGHT side of the physical book when you open it. In other words, your gutter won’t be in the middle in this view. So don’t frown when your margins look uneven in the wrong way…if that makes sense. Just breathe. It’s going to be okay.

Now it’s time to make the content resemble a print book.

Step 3 Design content

I go into super deep detail here because my books are in series. I want every book in each series to be formatted the same in print. If this is important to you, you should take copious notes too and tailor this section for your own preferences.

    1. Simple Title Page (aka page 1)
      1. Turn “cover copy page” into a simple title page.
      2. Select “cover copy” and Type title, return
      3. In all caps, type A SERIES NAME NOVEL, return, return, return
      4. In regular case, bold, type Jessi Gage, insert “next page” section break using Page Layout ribbon
      5. Format the simple title page
          1. Highlight title, make it NTR, 16pt itallics, centered (no indents)
          2. Open paragraph dialog box using tiny box in lower right of Paragraph menu of Home ribbon
          3. Before: 200pt
          4. After: 0pt
          1. Highlight title, make it Garamond, 22pt itallics, centered (no indents)
          2. Open paragraph dialog box using tiny box in lower right of Paragraph menu of Home ribbon
          3. Before: 200pt
          4. After: 0pt
    1. “Also By” Page (page 2)
      1. With cursor at top of page, no indent, set font to 14pt, hit return until cursor is at 2” line. In all caps, type ALSO BY JESSI GAGE, centered, return, return
      2. Series 1 Name in 14pt, return
      3. Book Titles in 12pt italics , return, return
      4. Series 2 Name
      5. Book Titles in 12pt italics, return, return
      6. COMING SOON, return, return use Book Titles only, not series names too
      7. Insert section break, next page
      8. Highlight all text and make the spacing 1.15. While in the spacing menu, go to “Line Spacing Options.” Make sure line spacing is set to 0 before and 10 after.
      9. FOR HW, all is in NTR
      10. FOR BCB, all is in Sylfaen
    2. Main Title Page (page 3)
      1. Type title, centered, italics, return
      2. In all caps, type A SERIES NAME NOVEL, return, return, return
      3. In regular case, bold, type Jessi Gage, insert next page section break
      4. FOR HW
        1. Highlight title, make it NTR, 26pt italics, centered
        2. Open paragraph dialog box using tiny box in lower right of Paragraph menu of Home ribbon
        3. Before: 100pt
        4. After: 0pt
        5. Highlight series line, 18pt
        6. By line, 18pt
      5. FOR BCB
        1. Highlight title, make it Garamond, 28pt itallics, centered. (Very Pretty, nice for titles, but too delicate for headings and body)
        2. Do spacing same as for HW above
    3. Copyright Page (page 4)
      1. Copy copyright page from another of my books and change the date and ISBN and any other info
      2. Font should be 11pt
      3. Return until cursor is on 4” line
      4. Section break, next page
      5. FOR HW NTR
      6. FOR BCB Sylfaen, needed to raise first line to 3.5”
    4. Dedication Page (page 5)
      1. No heading
      2. Start on 1” line
      3. Italics, 12pt, centered, not justified
      4. Section break, odd page (will insert a blank page so the next page will also be an odd page. THIS PAGE WILL NOT SHOW UP IN VIEW. YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE PAGE NUMBERS IN THE LOWER LEFT-HAND CORNER.
      5. FOR HW NTR
      6. FOR BCB Sylfaen
    5. Acknowledgements Page (page 7)
      1. FOR HW
        1. On 1” line in NTR, type “Acknowledgements” 16pt, return, return
        2. No indent, 12pt, justified to both edges (as body of manuscript will be) NOTE ON JUSTIFYING TEXT: If the last line of a paragraph looks wonky, just go to the end of the line, and hit return, like you’re starting a new para.
        3. Section break, odd page
      2. FOR BCB
        1. On 1” line in Sylfaen, type “Acknowledgements” 16pt (first letter 20pt), return, return
        2. Rest is same as FOR HW above, but in Sylfaen
    6. Chapter 1 (begins on page 9)
      1. FOR HW
        1. Set font to 16pt NTR
        2. Type “Chapter 1”
        3. Center, Highlight with cursor, right-click, choose paragraph
          1. Put 100pt before, make sure there is no indent
          2. Close dialog box
        4. Right click again, choose “styles,” save the new style as something like Chapter heading. You’ll use this for every chapter.
        5. Go back and highlight the “C” in “Chapter,” make it 20 pt.
        6. Return, return, text of chapter
        7. Remove indent from first para and make first 3 words “Small Caps” using font dialog box, which you open using the little blue button on the Font menu. Save this as “First Three Words” style.
        8. After last period of chapter, insert section break, odd page. Confirm that next chapter starts on an odd page (SKIPPED EVEN PAGE WON’T SHOW)
        9. Do for all chapters. Don’t forget epilogue. Make the “E” 20pt.
        10. After Epilogue, section break, next page (not odd page).
      2. FOR BCB
        1. Replace “Chapter 1” with just “1”
        2. 72pt Sylfaen, color: gray (second box down under the white color group)
        3. With the chapter heading highlighted, right click, open line paragraph menu. Under spacing, Before=50, After=10, Spacing=1.15
        4. Left-justified, return
        5. Text of chapter
        6. Remove indent from first para and make first 3 words “Small Caps” using font dialog box, which you open using the little blue button on the Font menu. Save this as “First Three Words” style.
        7. After last period of chapter, insert section break, odd page. Confirm that next chapter starts on an odd page (SKIPPED EVEN PAGE WON’T SHOW)
        8. Do for all chapters.
        9. For epilogue, apply the heading style, then make the “pilogue” 24pt
        10. After Epilogue, section break, next page (not odd page).
    7. A Note From the Author Page
      1. Hit return until title is centered 16pt on 1” line (NTR for HW, Sylf for BCB)
      2. Remove indents from paragraphs, justify to edges
      3. For Wishing, I removed the middle para, where I mention newsletter & Jessi Gage links. Figure the links aren’t clickable in this format, so don’t need them twice. (Have the links on next page
      4. Section break, next page
    8. About Jessi Gage Page
      1. Format same as Note from Author page
    9. Delete table of contents & copyright page from ebook.

How are you doing? Hanging in there? If things are going smoothly for you, excellent. However, I have bad news. It’s time to do the headers and footers. You might want to go grab a glass of wine.

Step 4 Format headers and footers

    1. From beginning of document, Insert ribbon -> Header -> Edit Header
      1. Odd Pages
        1. You are on page 1, an odd page. Odd pages get the title of the book in small caps, centered (NTR for HW, Sylf for BCB)
        2. Header from top=0.3, Footer from bottom=0.3
        3. Check all 3 boxes, different first page, different odd and even pages, and show document text
        4. Make sure “link to previous” is selected
        5. Click next to go to the next page, which is the first even page
      2. Even Pages
        1. Author name, all caps, centered
        2. Header from top=0.3, Footer from bottom=0.3
        3. Check all three boxes
        4. Link to previous
        5. Next
      3. As you hit next and move through the other sections, make sure the boxes are checked. Make sure first pages of sections/chapters don’t get headers. Make sure formatting is same.
      4. A way to check and make sure your sections are linked “Link to previous section” is to uncheck Different First Page. The header should appear and be the title for odd pages, author name for even pages.
      5. Return to beginning
    2. From beginning, Insert ribbon -> Header -> Edit Footer
      1. Similar process. Just no page numbers on anything but body pages. No page numbers on first pages of sections.
      2. Use “next” to arrow through the pages.
      3. When you get to first page (yes, first page) of first chapter, click on page numbers over on the left of the ribbon. Select simple, current position. You’ll probably get a 9, since the first chap begins on page 9.
      4. Click edit page numbers (on page number drop-down menu)
      5. Start at 1. Now, when you move to the next page, you might expect the page number “1” to disappear, because you’ve already checked different first page. This doesn’t happen automatically. Go ahead and put in page 2. Then go back and delete the 1. I know. This is silly.
      6. Now, you should be able to arrow through the pages with the next button, and it should bring you just to the first, second, and last pages of each section/chapter just like for headers. There should be little to do but check the page number formatting at this point. If not, tinker until it’s right.

 Step 5 Bird’s eye view check

Go back to beginning. Reduce size of doc until you see three full pages on the screen. Scroll through and check that the page numbers are right, that there are no weirdly justified last lines, that the chapters and section breaks are right, essentially that everything looks good.

Step 6 Finish that glass of wine

Celebrate! You are done! Go upload to CS and let me know how it went!

I hope you found this checklist helpful. Drop me a comment if you want. I love hearing from you all! Best of luck, and I’ll see you on the SP loop!

About Jessi Gage

USA Today Bestselling Author Jessi Gage is addicted to happy-ever-after endings. She counts herself blessed because she gets to live her own HEA with her husband and children in the Seattle area. Jessi has the attention span of a gnat…unless there is a romance novel in her hands. In that case, you might need a bullhorn to get her to notice you. She writes what she loves to read: stories about love. Leave a comment to introduce yourself! There is no better motivation to finish her latest writing project than a note from a happy reader! Don't forget to sign up for Jessi’s newsletter so you’ll never miss a new release. Thanks for visiting!
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4 Responses to Formatting Word Documents for CreateSpace

  1. Mae Clair says:

    Wow, I’ll have to save your post for reference. I just released my latest title and am getting ready to tackle Create Space. I have reference material to work from but your post looks very detailed, step-by-step. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the Passionate Kisses box set. I just snatched my set from Amazon!

    • Jessi Gage says:

      Thanks for picking up Passionate Kisses, Mae! I tend to take very detailed notes because I want to be able to do it again exactly the same! I want my books to look like each other.

      I hope you find it helpful! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. So that you will not have to guess or do a trial and error in determining the inside margins of your document, CreateSpace has a standard for setting the inside margin. For authors who will be doing their own formatting, the following page range will help you in setting the inside margin of your book. Please note that the interior reviewer might also flag an error to your inside margin but just ignore it if you are sure that you are following the guidelines from CS.

    Page Count Inside Margin Outside Margins
    24 to 150 pages .375″ at least .25″
    151 to 400 pages .75 at least .25″
    401 to 600 pages .875″ at least .25″
    More than 600 pages 1.0″ at least .25″

  3. A great article on formatting for Create Space. I have some ebooks that I will be formatting for POD in the near future.

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