Category Archives: Layout issues

Tips on how to lay out your book.

Creating a table of contents

A table of contents is a quick way to navigate around your document. In an ebook, it can provide links to chapter headings. In a print book, it will list page numbers for quick reference.

Styles are the key to your table of contents – if you consistently style chapter headings with the style Heading 1, then any ebook generator should take those styles and create your linked table of contents automatically.

The bonus is that you can use these styles to help you navigate around your Word document as well, using the Navigation Pane.

As always, there are two elements to working with Styles – apply your style to the text, and modify your style to have the appearance you want.

To apply the style, highlight the chapter heading and on the Home tab, click on the style labelled Heading 1.

To modify the appearance of that style, right-click on the style in the listing and choose Modify…

Use the Format button on the bottom left to access the main formatting dialog boxes.

Changing the appearance of any style in this way will automatically change the appearance of any text that has been marked as that style.

Alternatively, if you’ve already got your heading just as you want it to appear, highlight it, and then right-click on the style in the Styles panel. Choose Update Style Heading 1 to match Selection.

This will both mark the text with that style and set that style to the same appearance as the highlighted text (updating anything else marked with that style to the same appearance).

View the Navigation Pane by ticking the box on the View tab.

This provides a quick way to see and move around the structure of your document. If you’ve used more than one level of Heading (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 etc), then you can see the hierarchy of your layout.

To include a Table of Contents in your printed document, place your cursor where you want it to appear and then on the References tab click on Table of Contents. You can use an automatically generated Table of Contents, or customise it to create your own (for example, you can choose how many levels of heading you want to show – do you want just chapter headings, or do you want subheadings listed as well?).

What are styles?

Styles provide an efficient way to manage the appearance of any document. For anything other than a very simple title/content document, there’s usually a structure: headings, subheadings, body text. If you apply styles throughout your document, it’s a much simpler process to change the appearance of any one of those elements without affecting the rest.

Styles have two stages:

The first task is to decide what role a piece of text plays in your document. Is it a top-level heading? Subheading? Body text? Quote? Caption? Apply a style to match that role. There are several built in to Word that you can use or modify, or you can create your own.

The second task is to decide how that type of text should look. To do this, you modify your style, either by right-clicking on the style in the style list and selecting Modify, or by modifying your text and then right-clicking on the style in the style list and choosing Update Style to Match Selection.

In Word, you can create paragraph styles, which affect the whole paragraph, character styles, which affect only the characters the style is applied to, or a combination of both.

For example, Emphasis is a character style that applies italics to the selected text. Using Emphasis style rather than the Italics button means that if you later decide to change the font in the whole document you don’t risk losing your italics.

Setting a document up with all formatting done through styles rather than direct formatting is just a tiny bit more work than formatting directly, but with any substantial document it’s then so much easier to amend if needed.

Another advantage is that you can use the styles to check your structure and to move around your document easily, by using the Navigation Pane.

The styles may also be used to generate an automatic Table of Contents.

Indenting paragraphs

If you look inside any printed book, you’ll see paragraphs are indented. But how and why is this done?

The why is easy. There are two ways to visually signal the start of a new paragraph. One is to leave white space between paragraphs – a blank line or half a line is the norm. But this spreads the text out more on the page. A more compact way is to indent the beginning of the paragraph a little, which gives the same signal but takes up less space.

As to the how, there are a few ways to achieve it, some good and some not so good.

The worst way is to use spaces, because spaces can vary in width visually, and because you would need to be very careful to always add the same number of spaces to give a consistent look.

Then there’s tabs. Another way that works, but isn’t very efficient. What if you change your mind? You would need to remove – or add – tabs throughout.

A better way is to use the paragraph formatting. In Word, click the little marker at the corner of the paragraph formatting section on the Home tab.

This opens the paragraph formatting box.

Why set to 0.5cm? Anything bigger risks gaps in the text.

See how one line finishes short and looks like it’s floating out of place? Smaller indents are your key.

The best way to apply indents is to use the paragraph setting in the Styles. Apply your style to the text, and then right-click the style name and choose Modify.

Use the Format button at the bottom, select Paragraph… and then make the adjustment as above. This will then be applied to all text set to use that style.

Should you later want to adjust your indents, then all you need to do is modify the style again.

So much easier than trying to delete extra spaces or tabs!

The benefit of styles

When typesetting for print or ebook, styles are important. But what are they, and how do they help?

 

Just imagine the structure of your book for a minute. It’s probably something like

  • chapter number
  • chapter title
  • first para flush left with a drop cap
  • main text indented
  • divider
  • para flush left
  • main text indented

And repeat for every chapter, as often as necessary.

 

Now imagine that you want to increase the size of the chapter title, or change the font of the main text. Without styles, you would need to go to each small chunk in turn and change the formatting on it. If you have two or three changes to make on each chunk, it could take some time. Even using format painter, it’s fiddly and there’s the danger of missing something.

 

Now consider using styles. Styles come in two stages – tell the text what style you want it to use, and tell the style how it needs to display the text. So you’ll set the Heading 1 style to the right font, point size and weight, and you’ll highlight the text and apply the Heading 1 style. You can do these two steps in either order.

 

Once you’ve been through the entire document, applying styles to everything, it’s just a matter of changing the settings for that particular style, and that will then be applied all the way through the document, wherever that style has been applied.

 

One additional benefit of using styles correctly is that an automatic Table of Contents can be generated, using the specified styles to pick out the links that are needed and automatically adding the correct page number. This can be updated as the layout of the book is altered.

 

It’s also possible to save a set of styles, so it’s easy to copy them over from one document to another, ensuring efficiency and consistency.

 

 

 

When do I need a bleed?

One issue I’m sometimes asked to sort out is a bleed. So what is a bleed and when is it needed?

 

bleed illustration 2As part of the printing process, pages are trimmed. This is not normally an issue on print books, because any text would be well away from the edge,  but if you have illustrations or photos in the book that need to go right to the edge, then it’s important to create the image slightly larger than needed. This way, when the page is trimmed, the image will bleed off it. This avoids an unsightly white line showing, should the trimming be a fraction off (which is very possible).

 

This is usually done in publishing software, which has a bleed feature built in to it. The software will add trim marks to the file, so that the printer can trim to the right size.

 

A bleed is always needed in a cover design.

 

 

Formatting for ebook

The process of formatting for ebook starts in the same way as formatting for print; in fact, ideally I’d be working from the same Word file, and preparing it for both types of formatting by first ensuring all the formatting is done through styles, and not just ad-hoc. Once the Word file has styles applied throughout, importing it into Jutoh, the program I use for ebook formatting, is straightforward.

 

Within Jutoh, I’m prompted to fill out a form containing the metadata for the book, including author and publisher details, genre and information, and then choose which files to import for the main text and the cover. With styles applied, I can set the document to split at the chapter heading style, and then complete the import.

 

Now I need to go through the document, checking the formatting has imported properly, making sure the splits are at the right places – while the chapters should split automatically, the front matter and back matter often need attention – and ensuring that any blank lines at the end of chapters have been removed. While these can easily go unnoticed within a print book, there’s a risk that a single blank line at the end of a chapter, falling at the wrong place, will appear as a complete blank page in an ebook.

 

The options for variation of text in an ebook are very limited. While in a print version almost anything can be achieved (and one of my projects is exploring the possibilities in a fun way!), in an ebook there is only really relative font size as an option, as the reader can (and should be able to) override font and font size choices for their own reading comfort. Another trick that I’ve used to make text stand out is to block-indent rather than just indent the first line of the paragraph, but ebook readers vary in how they handle indents, so varying indent size or adding a right indent isn’t a viable option.

 

With most fiction ebooks, the table of contents can be handled automatically, while for others or for non-fiction, I often have to handle the table of contents separately, ensuring that links are provided for the parts that need links, that they are displayed consistently and that all links point to the right place.

 

Images need checking to ensure they are the right size. While Jutoh offers a facility for resizing images, this can be inconsistently handled across readers, and it is far better to ensure the images are correct before importing.

 

Once I’m happy with everything, it’s time to hit the export button. I can choose the export type (epub or mobi, usually) with the click of a button, and the file is created.

 

That’s not the end, of course! There’s still viewing on different screens, checking the front matter and back matter are displayed correctly, making sure the table of contents works if I’ve had to handle it separately, and skimming through to see whether any special formatting is handled right. I have a few different devices available, from ipad and iphone to kindle touch and kindle keyboard, and so I’m able to check how they each deal with any issues.

 

 

 

 

Book formatting for print

One task I’m often asked to do is to produce a version of a book for print. So what does this involve?

Preformatting

Firstly, I have to scan through the document to see if there are any tricky bits – sometimes a book will include sections such as letters, or newspaper articles, or something else that needs to be treated differently from the main text. There might also be areas where italics are used, for example. I apply styles to these, and to the chapter headings, and to anything else that is in other than the normal body font.

 

Some books bring real challenges, and it’s important to have an ongoing dialogue with the author over how he/she wants the issue handled.

Typesetting

The next step is to create the document to the right size in InDesign and import the Word file. I then check through the import, making sure that all the styles have made it across safely and all chapters start on a new page.

 

Next there’s a tweak of settings like hyphenation, and orphans and widows (usually issues with paragraphs split across a page break unevenly), and a check that we don’t have issues like blank pages or just one or two lines on the last page of a chapter. With InDesign, I have much more flexibility than in Word to squeeze an extra word on a line or spread the paragraph out a fraction so that more is carried over to the next line.

 

The beauty of using styles for the document is that it becomes very easy to change whole chunks at a time – if the author decides to go up or down a font size, for example, it can usually be changed in a single place. A change of fonts for the chapter headings is also achieved in one step, or adjusting how any special issues are addressed.

 

When I’m happy with the main body of the book, I can sort out the half-title, title page and imprint page, and anything else that’s needed for the front matter and end matter. There’s also the headers, footers (if needed) and page numbers to sort out, and checking that these only appear on the pages they’re needed.

Export and check

I export to PDF and scan through the file to make sure that all is as it should be, and then send off the PDF to the author for them to check. With InDesign, fonts are embedded in the file, meaning that the viewer will see the document as created, which isn’t always the case with files produced from Word. Ideally, a proofread would be carried out at this stage, to check for formatting issues as well as text issues. Sometimes I’m asked to do this, while at other times it remains something for the author to deal with.

 

Any issues can be dealt with fairly quickly, as the bulk of the work is done, and then I can create a final PDF if needed. By this point, it’s clear how many pages the book will have, which is vital information for creating the spine of the cover design. Again, I have some flexibility in page count as I can adjust settings easily to add pages (removing is trickier to do without affecting the overall look of the text).

How can an author help?

These days, authors often create the document with formatting as they imagine it should be. While traditional publishers might frown on this, I find it a help to see what the author has in mind, as long as it’s not too fancy.

 

It always helps if I’m prewarned about any issues that might arise, as I can be on special lookout.

 

If you know how to use styles, then applying them in Word rather than using ad-hoc formatting is useful.

 

Above all, it helps if the author is prompt with checking through proofs or letting me know if there’s a delay. As in  many things, communication is the key to success!

 

 

Preparing your manuscript for print – headers

Assuming that you’ve followed instructions for setting up your manuscript, including using styles and including section breaks before each chapter heading, preparing for a print version is reasonably straightforward.

 

First of all, you must use Page Set Up to set up your page size and margins appropriately, including instructing the file to Mirror Margins on Multiple pages. This enables you to either set up a wider inside margin or a gutter space (which has the same effect as a wider inside margin). This allows for the inside edge of the pages to be bound together. Use your printer’s guidelines in creating your margins, and don’t fall into the trap of trying to cram as much onto each page as possible.

margins

Under the Layout tab, tick the Different odd and even and Different first page options under Headers and footers.

header footer setup

 

In many books, the header or footer simply contains a page number, and these can be added easily in Word by choosing Insert/Page Number/Top of Page or Bottom of Page, then selecting which position and option you require.

insert page numbers

You may wish to have more information in your header, however. For example, many non-fiction books will have the book title on one side of the page and the author name on the other, so while the left and right pages are consistent throughout they do not match each other. Some may even have the book title on one side and the chapter title on the other, so while the book title side remains consistent throughout, the chapter title side changes for each chapter. At the very least, unless you have the page number bottom centre, it should appear on the outside of each page, so swapping from the left to the right. The first page of each chapter will normally have no header at all.

 

You can access the Headers and footers options by double clicking in the header or footer area of any page, or by clicking on Insert/Header and choosing the Edit header option, and similarly for the footer area.

header footer toolbar

Here, again, make sure that Different First Page and Different Odd & Even Pages are ticked. Different First Page enables you to leave the first page of each section (each new chapter) without a header.

 

A very important button on this toolbar is the Link to Previous. While this is turned on, the header in the current section (either odd or even) will be the same as the corresponding header in the previous section, so any change you make to this one will affect that as well. If they are all linked, then changing one will change all. This is the setting we want for the header that’s to be the same throughout – for example having the book title on the left hand (even) page.

 

Unlinking the headers, by turning off that Link to Previous button, means that you can set each header for that side manually. Use the Previous and Next buttons to skip through the sections. This means that you can set up the chapter title to appear on every right hand (odd) page.

alignment tabs

Use alignment tabs to centre the header – on the Header and Footer Tools, select Insert Alignment Tab and choose Center. You will need to add a right alignment tab for the page number when you want it on the right. When putting the number on the left, be careful if your Normal style includes a first line indent – you will need to turn this off for the number or it will appear in the indented position, or apply the non-indented version of Normal.

 

Page numbers should follow on automatically between sections. You can format their appearance by choosing Header and Footer Tools/Page Number/Format Page Number, should you require a section to be numbered differently, or in a different style. For example, a lengthy preface might be numbered with small Roman numerals, with the actual numbering starting with the text itself.

 

Check all your headers and footers very carefully (or your proofreader will check them for you) to ensure they are all correct.

 

 

 

 

Using paragraph formatting in MS Word 2010

So you’ve applied your styles, using Heading 1 for your chapter headings and Normal for the main text. You can format the headings easily and then update the style to make the same change throughout the document. The last thing to do is to format your body text appropriately.

 

Standard layout for an ebook or printed book is to indicate new paragraphs by indenting the first line. You should also avoid adding extra blank lines anywhere by using the return key. For both of these you need to access paragraph formatting.

 

Paragraph formatting dialog box

 

paragraph formattingWithin the paragraph formatting dialog box there are several areas of interest. You can format the alignment here – left, right, centered or justified.

 

You can add indents to left or right – if you want to set in a paragraph from the margins – or set a special first line indent.

 

You can also add space before or after the paragraph. This is the best feature to use if you want your headings to appear lower down the page, or have a gap between the heading and the text.

 

You can set your linespacing at various depths, including single and fixed spacing.

 

line and page breaksOn the other tab for the paragraph dialog box is Line and Page breaks.

 

The most interesting of these is Widow/Orphan control – when ticked, this will stop the first line or last line of the paragraph appearing on a different page from the rest. You might decide you prefer this option turned on, or you might turn it off if you want exactly the same number of lines of text on each page. If you do turn it off, I suggest you look at the layout of your print design carefully to check for widows and orphans, as it’s possible the automatic system could give you a single word on its own at the end of a chapter.

 

Keep with next will ensure there is no page break between a paragraph of this style and the next paragraph – useful for ensuring headings don’t appear on their own at the bottom of the page.

 

Keep lines together will ensure the paragraph is not split between pages.

 

Page break before will automatically start a new page with this paragraph – again, useful for headings.

 

Accessing the Paragraph format box

 

paragraph section of home ribbon

  • Click on the right-hand bottom corner of the paragraph section of the Home ribbon.

 

  • Right-click the text and select Paragraph…

 

If you access it either of these two ways, once you have the paragraph the way you want it to look don’t forget to right-click the paragraph and select Styles/Modify Normal to match selection.

 

modify styleAlternatively, you can right-click on the style in the style panel, choose Modify… and click on the Format button in the bottom left-hand corner. Choose Paragraph from the list of options. This method modifies the style directly, so you should see the change applied throughout when you press OK.

 

The first paragraph in the chapter or underneath a divider should not be indented, so it’s best to set up another style to cover this. Add in a centered style for your dividers (and maybe any images you wish to include) and you’re ready to go!

 

 

Using Styles in Open Office Writer

Advantages of styles

Using styles is a handy way to help you ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document. Styles can also help you to navigate through your file and see the structure easily, and if you intend to convert your Word file to ebook format, styles will enable you to generate an automatic table of contents.

 

I have covered styles in more detail in the Word version of this article, so here I will only give you where to find the various features in Open Office Writer:

Applying styles

formatting toolbarYou will access the styles option in Open Office Writer by selecting Format/Styles and Formatting, or by clicking the Styles and Formatting button on the toolbar (on the left). Apply the style by highlighting text in your document and double-clicking the style you want.

 

Use a page break to force a new chapter onto a new page – under Insert/Manual break… page break, or by typing CTRL+Enter.

 

Modifying styles

update styleTo modify a style, change one of the sections of text that uses it. Then, with that section highlighted, on the formatting window use the dropdown button to choose Update Style.

Using styles to navigate

navigatorUse the Navigator pane, under View/Navigator, to move around the document and see the structure. Expand the heading section if necessary by clicking on the plus sign to its left.

Table of contents

table of contentsUse Insert/Indexes and Tables/Indexes and Tables to insert a table of contents.