Guest Post: 10 Formatting Tips for Print Publishing That Will Save Your Bacon

Hello, hello! Thank you Majanka for having me here at I Heart Reading! I’m Keira Gillett and I am many things, but today I am both an author and a technical writer. My first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, released on 06 March 2015 and is about an American girl in Norway whose friend is kidnapped by a river-troll.

The process of getting Zaria Fierce ready for print has been fun and crazy. I’m very lucky to have experience in technical writing and technical publications. My day job has given me a head-start on the subject of formatting. Here are 10 formatting tips for readying a story for print publication that will save you time and money and get the job done right the first time:

(Some of these tips are great for e-book formatting too!)

  1. Don’t format: at first. Save formatting for later. It will save you from having to make changes or corrections later. Trust me, it’s worth waiting.
  2. Write in Normal Style: In Word, you should write your story in Normal format. This eliminates the need for you to add a return to create visual space. Use the Paragraph menu for additional options for spacing before and after paragraphs, between lines, etc.
  3. Heading Styles: Most books have text that is highlighted for various reasons, generally as a heading to a chapter or section. You probably don’t want the built-in styles from Word to create the visual difference. It’s most likely too plain and/or in the wrong font. To change the ready-made styles, right-click on Heading 1 or Heading 2 or Heading 3 and choose Modify. Set up how you want your header styles to look.
  4. Table of Contents: To create a TOC in Word, you will first want to format the sections or chapters of your book (see previous tip). Then on the text you want to appear in your TOC, highlight it and choose the header style you want. When the header text has been formatted, go to the References tab in Word and left-click on Table of Contents. Choose a style (for print you want one with page numbers.) If you have lines in your TOC that you don’t want to be there, highlight them individually and delete them.
  5. Non-breaking spaces: they’re your friend. Everyone knows hyphens and dashes should always stay on the right when a line wraps around in a paragraph. Word however doesn’t know it and will break your sentence where it chooses instead of where is typographically correct. Stop that nonsense in its tracks by using a non-breaking space before the hyphen or dash. A good rule of thumb – always insert the non-breaking space, never copy it. If you copy, the formatting can disappear and leaving behind a regular space.
  6. Images: If you’ve worked with images before in documents you know the images should be created or scanned at 300 DPI. But did you know that even if your images are 300 DPI, if you insert them into a Word document that they will automatically be resized at 220 DPI? Who knows why Word decided this was a better practice. It isn’t, especially if you plan to print. Before you insert your images into a Word document go to File -> Options -> Advance -> Image Size & Quality -> Do not compress images in file. After you’ve done that you can insert your images (and I do mean insert – no copying!) and they will remain at 300 DPI. Hurrah!
  7. Margins and Gutter: If you’re printing your book, grab a sample format from the website you’ll print through (I used CreateSpace) and follow the instructions for setting up your margins and gutter. This will keep all your lovely work on the page and not bleeding off it or sewn up in the middle where the spine is. You’ll also want to mirror your margins. This will keep everything printing nicely.
  8. Page Breaks: Use them at the end of every section/chapter. Doing so will keep your sections from running together and/or you from having to use a ton of returns to start a new section on a fresh page. Don’t add any unnecessary returns. Ever! Use this tip or Tip 2 to fix any spacing issue you have.
  9. Page Numbers: Generally speaking, if you’re printing a book, you want page numbers. If you’re like me you probably don’t want page numbers on every page (like the front matter or back matter.) So what do you do? Word doesn’t let you chose the range of pages numbered. Well, actually… Word does, but Word made it complicated. In the scenario I mentioned (front, middle, back) you will need three Section Breaks before you start numbering. Insert a section break at the start or end of each part of the book by using the top banner and choosing Page Layout -> Breaks -> Section Breaks -> Continuous/Next Page. Now you have three sections of headers and footers! Unlink them by clicking in each section and under the Design tab deselect the option Link to Previous. Now in the middle portion add the page count. You might have to highlight the page number and change its starting value. In print layout format the right page should be odd, always.
  10. Total Page Count: should be an even number of pages. Better still, every section or chapter should also be an even number of pages. This way your new sections and chapters always start on the right page (and the right page should also be an odd page number, see previous tip.)

If you’ve done all that, you’re good to go! When you’re done, you should upload it to the printing website and confirm every page in the previewer. This last step will give you a chance to catch anything you might have missed along the way (like hyphens and dashes breaking strangely.) Good luck with your publishing endeavors!

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood ForestBook Blurb: On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.

Early Reviews:

“With kids interested in “Frozen,” with Anna and Elsa, this would be a natural progression.” – Judi Oswald, Reference Librarian

Purchase your copy of Zaria Fierce today.

Watch the Book Trailer:


Geirr stooped to pick up some decent-sized sticks, and Zaria bent to grab a few too. They talked amicably and walked, stretching their legs, until they were too burdened by their loads to keep going.
“My arms are going to collapse,” Zaria huffed. Her breath fogged around her face, covering and then revealing a well-pinked nose and cheeks. “Let’s head back to camp.”
“Sounds good to me,” Geirr said and turned around to do just that. Zaria followed and collided into him, dropping her load of kindling all over the ground.
“Hey!” she exclaimed, as she went to gather them. “Why did you stop?”
“I don’t think we’re going to find camp,” Geirr said, worrying his lip. He juggled his armful of wood and pointed haphazardly forward. “It’s like pea soup.”
Zaria looked up from playing fifty-two pickup and saw what worried Geirr. In front of them was a wall of fog, thick, viscous, and impossible to see through. She gulped and carefully set down the pile she’d been working to gather again. Was it her imagination or did the fog seem to be breathing? It crept closer in stages. Not fast enough that she saw it while looking directly at it, but if she looked away and back, it most definitely moved.
“Uh, Geirr,” Zaria said, slowly gaining her feet. “I think we should move and fast.”
Geirr looked at her puzzled. “I don’t think fast is an option here. Now if you pick up your stack and stick near me maybe we can Marco Polo our way back to the others.”
“Geirr,” Zaria hissed, her voice ratcheting higher. “The fog is moving.” He didn’t look impressed. The breathing sounds from within the fog grew louder, distressing Zaria. “No seriously, it’s moving like it’s alive.”
Geirr looked back again and stared hard, trying to penetrate the fog with his gaze alone. Zaria started to ease away, firewood forgotten.
“Come on, Geirr, we have to move. Can’t you hear the breathing?”
“That isn’t you?” he asked, alarmed.
“No!” Zaria shouted. “Run!”

Purchase your copy of Zaria Fierce today.

Keira Gillett author pictureAuthor Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.


Social Media: Twitter (keiragillett), Facebook (zariafiercetrilogy), Pinterest (keiragillett)


  1. Thanks Majanka for letting me take over your blog for the day! It was fun to share these formatting tips. I hope they’re useful to other authors!

  2. Thanks for the tips! This is awesome! I’ve been playing with a couple ideas for books and I’m thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo this year.
    I just wanted to let you know that today is the first quarter update for the Horror Reading Challenge! You can find the update post HERE!
    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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