Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Indie Formatting

The Reale Family at The Island, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Thursday, Jan. 4: I guess you have to be young to enjoy "up north." (Not that Tennessee really qualifies as "up north" - except vertically.) But I'm freezing in Central Florida at the moment where the high today is 47°F. (8.33 C.) (My begonia and basil are sitting on my dining room table - in response to a predicted three freezing nights in a row. Sigh. I had to let my vines take the nip - the flowers on the Black-eyed Susans are shriveled to nothing, but the leaves are surviving - so far.

Friday, Jan. 5: Last night all my plants curled up their toes except my herbs. Even the pansies are drooping, the vinca is wrinkled up as the Black-eyed Susans. Alas, even the leaves are damaged - first time in many years I've lost my plants. Yard is barren - not something we're used to here in Florida. 

Fence last week

Fence this week. Sigh.

On top of that, I forgot to bring in my pink geranium. Double sigh.

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 In November, as I formatted both The Blackthorne Curse and Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart for Indie pub, it seemed a good time to talk about this basic subject again. But so many things were happening around that time that this post got put off until the New Year. [And because I put this post off for six weeks or so, I may have missed a step somewhere. If so, abject apologies. Let me know so I can fix it -  in Blog Comments or by "Contact" on my website (below).

I am one of those authors who absolutely refuses to give up the superior word processing available with Word Perfect, which inevitably makes more work when I have to translate my manuscripts into Word. The editing process, however, is the same in every program. Edit for content, copy edit for typos, missing words, etc. Then do it all again and again, as necessary. Only when you have a truly polished manuscript do you go to the steps below.

So . . . for authors who haven't done this yet, or authors who struggled with the process and are still shaky about how to get it right , here, step by step, is how to do the job in Word2016. Hopefully, these instructions are adaptable for those using other word processing systems.


FULL STOP:  Do not begin the formatting steps below until you have edited, re-edited, polished, and fully agonized over every word in your book. The steps below are FINAL ones, the last thing you do before upload. Fiction manuscripts will also need cover art. More about that can be found on the publishers' websites.

Grace Note: The instructions below presume your manuscript has page numbers. Mine do, for two reasons: I edit hardcopy. And I've been formatting manuscripts that way since I typed mss for my mother on a manual typewriter when I was in high school! Hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

Before you begin, all sections of your manuscript must be in one document. (I usually have c. six 5-chapter segments.)  To make the sections into one document:

1. Open Section 1; copy with an "overall" name. 
Example: I opened Lady 1 and copied it as Lady2016. 
Be sure to place a Required Page End at the end of Section 1.* (Control+Enter)

*I am presuming you already have Required Page Ends at the end of each of the previous chapters.

2. Open Section 2. Select All - Copy - Paste at the end of Section 1. Add Required Page End. Repeat process with other sections until all are in one continuous document.

After your book is in ONE document:

1.  Be sure all margins are 1" (or the European equivalent)

2.  Delete all Headers.

3.  Delete all Page Numbering. (This step may have to be repeated at the beginning of each of your old sections.)

4.  Change Line Spacing to 1 (single space).

5. Format Paragraph - First Line Indent - change from .05 (standard ms) to .03 (book).

6.  Select All - Alignment - Justification (This makes a straight right margin as well as left.)

 Now - working with the manuscript itself . . .

1.  Turn on what few codes MS Word offers - click on the ¶ sign in the Toolbar.

2.  As you go through the ms, look for anomalies, such as two spaces in a row. A manual (instead of auto) margin tab (which won't work in an ebook), missing Required Page Ends at the end of a chapter, etc. (MS Word shows only a few codes, so this isn't nearly the chore it is when working in Word Perfect. Or as helpful.)

3.  General Instruction: as you do a final read of your manuscript, continue to look for typos, missing words, and places where your ms could be just a wee bit better in spite of all the editing you've already done.

4.  Oh yes, and whatever you do, I beg you not to put an Index at the front of a Fiction book. It's absolutely ridiculous. It looks like amateur night in Dixie. (Somebody said I should do that, so . . .

5.  Format the beginning of each chapter as you come to it. In most cases this means making the Chapter Number a uniform number of spaces from the top. (I use two.)

a.  Highlight & increase Chapter Number font. (I usually go to 14.)

b.  Center Chapter font, if desired. (This involves an extra step, (c) below.)

c.  Paragraph - First Line Indent - Change .03 to .00. (Otherwise the centering will be off.)

6. Date & Location lines. These lines are generally placed Flush left, in italics. Again, it will be necessary to highlight the line(s) and change the First Line Indent from .03 to .00.

7. Indenting quoted notes or letters in a manuscript. The classic rule is to put letters in italics and indent both sides if the letter is 3 lines or longer. But most electronic readers are smaller than books of the hardcover era when these rules were made, so my advice:  Indent only the left side of your copy, using the "book" indent of .03. [I found Word2016 did its best to make changing margins within a manuscript as obscure as possible, but it can be done. (In Word2003 it was easy, as it is in Word Perfect.) Sigh.]

When you reach the end:

1.  Add a short bio of yourself, including links to your website, blog, Facebook Author Page - whatever strikes your fancy.

2. Add a well-organized list of all your books and series.



If you're really into the business end of writing - you love the challenge of squeezing out every cent by doing all your own formatting for every e-reader, phone, & tablet in existence - then you won't want to read my final bit of advice. But for the rest of you . . .
I format for upload only in Microsoft Word. I don't struggle with any of the other formats. I upload my books to Amazon and Smashwords and let Smashwords do their "thing" - translating my books into every known format. Which they do almost instantaneously, to my constant wonder. [And the free Smashwords Style Guide (to Indie Publishing) by Mark Coker, Smashwords' founder, is a "must" for any aspiring indie author.]

Grace note:  It will be necessary to save your formatted manuscript into Word 2003 for upload to Smashwords, as that is the format their system was designed for. (It's a simple "Save As" in all MS Word programs.)

The Wonder Publishers of the world:

~ * ~

This week I uploaded a new post to my Facebook Author Page. It contains what I hope is interesting background information on why I kept a tale of Suspense on the shelf for eight years. Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart will finally make its debut later this month. It's a tale that mixes agricultural terrorism with immigration issues and features a romance with an almost insurmountable culture clash. If you'd like to read background on HDHD, click here.

For a link to Blair Bancroft's website, click here.

To request a brochure from Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, please use the link to my website above. See Menu on the right.


  1. The easy way to eliminate errant double spaces between words is to use Find and Replace.

  2. Sigh. I always type with double spaces between sentences. Not only is it a solidly entrenched habit, but I'm certain my old typing teacher would come back to haunt me if I didn't. Besides, having only one space between sentences makes me feel claustrophobic. But somewhere along the line, the double space stopped rendering correctly for my blog. I don't know if it's the fault of the blogging software, my blog host, or the browsers, but I capitulated and use just that (Find and Replace) before posting. Because that's a whole lot easier than teaching my fingers to type the other way.

  3. Incredibly, two spaces after a period has been a dead issue for so long, I never even thought of it while writing this post. I actually had to puzzle out where Linda's remark came from in what I'd written. I was merely referring to the inevitable extra spaces that creep in here and there. It took me almost 20 years to adapt to a single space after sentences. Until then, I simply used Search & Replace.