Style Guide for Interior Formatting

A properly styled Word document can cut formatting and typesetting time in half! An improperly styled document can double, sometimes triple or quadruple the workload.

Unless otherwise requested, I will format your book in Adobe InDesign, and will only be using the text from your Word file, not any other settings.

File Type

  • Your document should be formatted in Word as a .doc or .docx file.
  • If you only own a PDF file, you can export that file to a Word document, but please note that if you do this, a lot of formatting could be messed up and require fixing—either by myself or by you. If I end up needing to clean up the exported document, I do charge more.

Page Size & Margins

  • Your page size doesn’t matter too much, but if you’re starting from scratch, just choose the default 8.5″ x 11″ size.
  • Margins don’t matter much either, but 1″ all the way around is just fine. If you need to set text apart from the body text, and you’d like to do that using different margins just for that text, that is fine. You can do that using the Ruler feature.

Fonts, Line Spacing, and Justification

  • Do not use fancy fonts. For the body, use Times New Roman, if possible. Do not use a sans-serif font. If you don’t know the difference between a sans-serif font and a serif font, you can watch this video. Times New Roman is a serif font. Arial is a sans-serif font.
  • If you must use other fonts, let me know. Sometimes it’s necessary to use different fonts in order to show me that something needs to be set apart from other text. In that case, go ahead and use a different font and just let me know ahead of time that is what you are doing.
  • Use point size 12 for the body text.
  • Single-spaced line spacing.
  • Please left-justify your document. This means the paragraphs are “ragged” on the edges. This is the default for Word.

Tabs/Indents

Please do not use spaces to indent paragraphs. The best thing to do is use the ruler feature, but if you are unfamiliar with this technique, just press the Tab key.

Running Headers & Page Numbers

You don’t need to include running headers or page numbers, but if they are already a part of your document, that is fine.

Page Breaks (to get to a new page)

Page Breaks are really helpful! Instead of pressing the “Return” or “Enter” key a few dozen times to get to a new page for a new section/chapter of your book, use the Page Break feature instead. This saves me time, in that I don’t have to go in and delete all of those manual returns you entered. So, thank you in advance for not doing that.

How do you insert a Page Break? It should be under Insert, and then click Page Break. Don’t insert a Section Break. That is a bit different.

Front & End Matter

Front and end matter are the pages before and after your main document. You may include your front and end matter within the same document as your main body, or you may include it in separate documents.

Here is a list of common front and end matter for a typical book, whether it be a novel, memoir, or non-fiction:

  • Front Matter
    • Half Title Page
    • Title Page
    • Copyright Page
    • Dedication
    • Foreword
    • Table of Contents (not usually included in fiction)
  • End Matter
    • About the Author
    • Acknowledgments
    • Also by the Author
    • End Notes
    • Index
    • Appendix

You do not need to include all of these things. If you don’t include any of them, I automatically include the title pages and copyright page. A table of contents will always be included for an eBook, even if it is fiction.

Ellipses

Ellipses require their own section because I rarely see them done consistently, and it’s always something I need to fix. WHATEVER YOU DO, please stick with only ONE of the following:

  • Use three periods in a row, with each period separated by a space. So . . . like this. That includes spaces before and after the words. Again . . . like this, even if one of the spaces moves to the next line. Do not include any space between the period and quotation marks: “. . .”
  • OR, use the ellipses feature in Word, using the Insert Symbol feature, or by using a keyboard shortcut. This will insert an actual character that is an ellipses. Put NO spaces before or after the words.
  • OR, use three periods in a row…with NO spaces before or after the words.

If, in the use of fiction, you are wanting to use FOUR periods for your ellipses at the ends of sentences, please use the first or third options and let me know that you want to keep four periods in a row. Otherwise, I will eliminate any extra periods.

Rules for ellipses can be different for non-fiction. Please make sure you and your editor have done them correctly before submitting your final manuscript to me.

Em and En Dashes

Em and En Dashes require their own section because I rarely see them done consistently, and it’s always something I need to fix. WHATEVER YOU DO, please be consistent!

  • Em Dashes
    • Use an actual em dash for em dashes using the Insert Symbol feature, or a keyboard shortcuts in Word—like this.
    • Use two hyphens in a row with no spaces surrounded them: like- -this.
    • Use one hyphen surrounded by spaces – like this.
  • En Dashes
    • Please USE ONLY the En Dash special character in Word so that I will know it is an en dash you are wishing to use. En dashes are used between numbers like this: 1905–1910. Or between a stutter in dialogue like this: “I–I didn’t know!”
    • If you do not include en dashes, for the most part, I WILL NOT add them in for you unless you pay an extra fee. Manually adding in en dashes can be a large amount of work, as it can require actual reading of the entire body of text instead of using a search and replace feature.

Quotation Marks

Please use smart quotes in your manuscript. Sometimes they are called “curly” quotes. I have, on many occasions, run into problems with an author using a sans-serif font, or straight quotes, and then discovering later after I’ve formatted the book that all of the quotation marks are upside down for some strange reason. Click here for a little tutorial about smart quotes.

Page Breaks (within the text)

In fiction, it’s common to have what is often called a Page Break to indicate a passage of time. Many times in print, these breaks are indicated with a break in space.

Like that above. Just space. Many authors like to include a little image in that space, or asterisks. And, for the eBook format, I suggest using asterisks or another text mark to indicate ALL page breaks, as it will show up clearer in the flowing text that there is an actual break.

* * *

Like that. For print, just simple white space can be used, if desired. Or I can add an image, if desired. Whatever is desired, PLEASE use either three asterisks * * * or three pound signs # # # to indicate all page breaks, and then communicate with me how you want them to appear in the final book.

Double Spaces After Sentences

It’s not a huge deal, but if you can, please eliminate all double spaces after periods. One space is the standard now.

Last Words

There are hundreds of other formatting things to consider, but these are the main ones I feel are pretty easy for an author to do in order to make the formatting process go faster.