Thursday, April 4, 2019

Self-Publishing Formatting Helps: Indents

Formatting Your Manuscript for Self-Publishing

Word is a great tool. It is the tool of preference for me. I taught Word in a collegiate setting for more than ten years, so I am very familiar with the application.

Sometimes you have to know a few tricks to make Word do what you want it to do. Especially when you are formatting your document.

We all learned in keyboarding or typing class to use the Tab key to indent a new paragraph. The tab set can be set where ever you want it so that the document looks pretty good.

Unfortunately, when you upload the file to an ebook publisher, it can go wonky. Especially paragraph indents. I don't know the reason this happens, but I think it's because KDP set tabs differently. In one manuscript, I had indents going from normal to moving to the center mark of the page. It wasn't consistent and looked terrible.

I've since learned that this is an issue for other authors, too.

Here is my fix:

Paragraph dialog box settings for fiction manuscripts
Don't use the Tab key.

Simple, huh?

Okay. Sorry for being snarky.

Setting Indents

You really don't want to use the Tab key, though. Instead, use the Paragraph dialog box. To get the Paragraph dialog box to open, click the Launch button at the bottom right corner of the Paragraph group on the Home tab (circled in red in the image).

I justify my books, so the alignment in all my documents is Justified.

Make sure you have Body Text selected for the Outline Level.

Next, set the Left and Right Indentions to 0.

Under Special, drop down the arrow and select First Line. In the By box, use the up and down arrows to select what you desire. I wouldn't go higher than 0.5". To me, that seems a bit too deep an indent. Especially in Kindle books. I use 0.3".

Using this setting makes all the indents the same. Paragraph indents are automatically when you hit the enter key after the last sentence in the previous paragraph.

In the Spacing section, make sure Before and After are set to 0 pt. If you don't do this, Word will add extra space between paragraphs.

For Line Spacing, use the drop-down arrow and select Multiple. I set my line spacing at 1.08, but you can play with it to see what you like.

Before you click OK, click the Line and Page Breaks tab at the top of the Paragraph dialog box.

While the Pagination selections are helpful at times, they cause awkward spacing in an e-book or a paperback book. For my fiction manuscripts, I make sure nothing here is checked, then click OK.

Other apps will have different settings, but for Word, these work.

Please leave a comment and let me know of any other Word problems you might have. I'll do my best to provide an answer for your issues.

Take care,

P.S. Check out my new Author Helps Page.