Details Found in Formatting

Some formatting details you may not have noticed when reading your favorite book include the first paragraph of each chapter and each section not having an indentation and the first page of each chapter does not have a page number. Speaking of page numbers, they do have to alternate between the right side and the left side of your manuscript unless you just say, “to hell with it.” and put them in the center of the page. And, yes the paragraphs are justified. How in the hell do you get that header, which also alternates on each page, to say your author name and the title of the book? Also it doesn’t appear on the first page of the book or on the first page of each chapter.

The first time I formatted a book, I was surprised by the number of little details that go on in those pages that I hadn’t even noticed but surely would have if they hadn’t been lurking about. Don’t forget that the chapter header font needs to match your title page and your title page most likely matches your cover page. Seriously? Learning to do the formatting can be a challenge. This is why many indie authors choose to hire someone to format their book for them, which costs chah-ching ($$). I was overwhelmed and daunted by doing formatting. I had tried to format professional papers and school papers and remember just fighting with the program. The program won, of course. It has more endurance.

Honestly the best way to format is to begin with the formatting already set and then use the document to write your manuscript. Many authors (yes author not writer, you really do have to think of yourself as an author from the beginning even if you don’t say it out loud to anyone but yourself) use a writing program such as scribus (scribus.com it’s free) ywriter (ywriter.com also free) and scrivener. Some of these programs have templates you can use and then you can export it to Word or whatever macs use.

If you use one of these programs, use YouTube and find someone who is doing some tutorials. Many of the programs offer tutorials on their website, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, find someone else. I guarantee that there are at least five other tutorials on YouTube.

Final notes, fiction and non-fiction use different formatting. Each genre has its own quarks, so do your research.

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