Tag Archives: formatting

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.

 

 

 

How much does self-publishing cost?

This question receives many different answers, from thousands of pounds to nothing. So what’s really going on?

 

First of all, actually publishing your book costs nothing. Uploading files to Amazon and creating either ebook or print version does not involve a fee.

 

But it’s not as simple as that. There needs to be quality control of what you’re uploading. Has your work been reviewed, to ensure that it makes sense, that it’s well written, that it doesn’t contain silly typos or other errors that will put your reader off? Will your cover design attract readers to your book? Is your layout correctly formatted for whatever platform you want to publish on?

 

If you’re self-publishing, then all those quality control issues come down to you. It’s your responsibility to get an editor to go through your work, to get a good cover design done, to ensure the formatting is correct.

 

Some of these you can do yourself, if you have the skills, but editing is one of those jobs that must be done by someone else to be done well; you are too close to your own work, and just can’t see what you’ve actually written as opposed to what you think you’ve written.

 

Even cover design and formatting are worth paying experts for; while anyone can throw a cover together, books are a competitive market, and your book deserves a cover that will attract the reader. Likewise, formatting can be fiddly and frustrating if you’re new to it. Why not spend your time writing, and pay the experts to do their job?

 

There are publishing companies around who offer to do all this as a package deal, for a price. Be very wary of these; generally, they make their money from the services they sell to you, not from their share of the books sold (although they take a good slice of that too). You risk paying a lot of money for services you could have got cheaper separately, and losing control of your book as well.

 

What if you can’t afford to pay an editor, cover designer etc?

 

The answer then is not to just put it out anyway. The quality is likely to be poor, and that will put readers off anything else you write, and weaken the reputation of self-published books generally.

 

Traditional publishing involves a publisher liking your book enough to invest money in it. They keep part of the sales, yes, and you might lose some of the control over your book, but they are the ones who take the financial risk. Remember, if they ask you for money to publish, they are not a traditional publishing company.

 

So in the end it comes down to this: please either be prepared to invest money as well as time in your writing to ensure quality (after all, you’re expecting others to invest money in your books!), or find someone else who is willing to do so.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Using Styles in MS Word 2010

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.

 

Applying styles

The styles options appear on the Home ribbon. You will see several different styles listed, including Normal, Heading 1 and Heading 2. You may also have a Title style.

 

style bar

Each of these styles may be applied to your document by highlighting the text and then choosing the style you want.

 

It is important that you use the right style for the right section; it is less important what the style currently looks like, as it is easily modified.

 

Most of your document will be created in the Normal style, and you should use Heading 1 for chapter headings. Highlight the chapter name and then click on the style named Heading 1. If you have subheadings, you can use Heading 2, etc.

 

section breakAt the end of the chapter, in order to make the next chapter start on a new page, use a Section Break (Next Page) or Section Break (Odd Page). Both are found on the Page Layout ribbon, under Breaks. Using Odd Page will ensure that the next section starts on the right-hand page of your book. All odd pages should be on the right-hand page – please note that the Word two-page preview does not always display this properly.

 

pilcrowUsing the Show/Hide button (on the Home ribbon) to see the invisible characters will help you with your formatting. This button lets you see the characters that are normally invisible, but that control the layout of your document.

formatting example

Here you can see:

  • the section break used rather than leaving blank lines manually
  • the chapter heading formatted using Heading 1
  • the pilcrow mark used to show paragraph marks
  • dots instead of spaces.

Modifying styles

modify style

If you want to change the appearance of either of the styles used, choose one heading or one paragraph to change. When you have that one exactly as you want it, then highlight it, right-click and choose Styles/Update Heading 1 to Match Selection or Styles/Update Normal to Match Selection. This will automatically make your changes to every section of text where that style is applied.

 

More about modifying styles in my next post, on using paragraph formatting.

Using styles to navigate

navigation pane

If you turn on the Navigation Pane (found under the View ribbon) you will see a list of the headings you have used. Clicking on these is a quick way to jump around your document, and if you have subheadings, for example in a non-fiction book, you can see the structure very clearly.

 

table of contentsMoving to the top of your document and choosing Table of Contents on the Reference ribbon will give options for an automatic table of contents, with or without page numbers. These will be hyperlinked to each heading, so that Ctrl+clicking on a heading will take you to that point in the document, and this will translate to the ebook file as well. If you generate the Table of Contents before your text is finished, then you can right-click the generated table later and choose Update Field, choosing the option Update entire table, to ensure that the table is up to date. Alternatively, make the Table of Contents the last job you do when finished.

 

 

 

 

Typing your manuscript

Here are a few tips to remember when typing up your manuscript:

 

  1. Use single spaces only, even at the end of a sentence. If you are an old-school typist, as I am, you were probably taught to use two spaces after a full-stop, but this is inadvisable on a computer. Some eBook converters will complain if they find two spaces together, and there is always the risk that one space will be put on the next line, forcing that line out of alignment with the rest.
  2. Avoid using blank lines in your document. It is best to put a visual marker instead. If you really want blank lines in a finished printed manuscript, you can adjust them once the page sizes are known, but in eBooks you can never guarantee where the page breaks will fall, and it is very easy to miss a blank line at the top or bottom of a page. For this reason, ebook converters will complain if you upload a document with blank lines.
  3. Indent the first line of each paragraph using the automatic settings in your word processing software. The usual style these days is to have no blank lines between paragraphs in fiction, and so the way to signal a new paragraph visually is to indent the first line a little. However, using the tab key or space bar to do this is a bad idea, as it makes it fiddly to adjust at a later date.
  4. Use section breaks or page breaks at the end of the chapter, to push the next chapter to the top of a new page. Section breaks also give you the option to choose whether you want next page or odd page starts, and allow you to change the header and footer between sections.
  5. Make use of the style system. Marking your headings using styles is not only a handy short-cut to keeping your formatting consistent, but it is the key to generating a Table of Contents for the front of the book, and if your book is non-fiction, then the navigation pane will help you check that your content is organised appropriately. 
  6. Avoid using the space bar to align content on the page. Instead, use the left-align, right-align and centre buttons. For anything more complicated, you can always set and use the tabs, or use a table and hide the borders.

If you follow these simple rules when typing up your manuscript, the final formatting should be smooth and easy.

More information on using the style system and section breaks.