When formatting your paperback to self-publish on Kindle Direct Publishing, you'll first need to create a document on which you will format your manuscript. Presumably, you've already determined your book’s trim size. This article also assumes you're using Microsoft Word for your formatting.
Begin by making a copy of the manuscript you’ve been working on. Use the copy for your formatting. This way if the formatting somehow should could cause text to be deleted, you still will have the original.
You’ll want to work with a completely clean copy. You can do that by going to Review>Track Changes your manuscript. First, accept all changes and turn off Track Changes. Then delete all commentary. Lastly, go to Insert and delete all headers and footers.
Now you’re ready to set up the document so it matches your trim size. Go to Layout>Size. When the drop-down menu opens for Size, click “More Paper sizes” at the bottom. A pop-up window will come on your screen. At the top, enter the width and the height of your trim size. Click OK at the bottom. You’ll notice that on your screen the shape of the “paper” that you’re working with has changed.
Determine the Margins
Next, set the margins. The margins are the white frame that runs between the page’s text and the page’s edge.
To ensure that the words aren’t too close to the page edge where they could be cut off when the printer trims the paper, you want to ensue there’s enough white space. At the same time, the greater the white space, the more paper you’ll need for the book, potentially raising the printing cost and reducing profitability.
Margins are measured in inches by their distance from the text to the page edge. Imagine a line running across the very top of your text. Place the edge of your ruler there then measure to the page edge, and you have your margin size.
Determining margins for your book first requires that you know your book’s trim size. Generally, for any book whose trim size is 6 x 9 or smaller, use half-inch margins on all sides of the book except for the one nearest the binding. This is called the inside margin and needs to be slightly larger, usually three-quarters of an inch.
You want to have a larger inside margin because books curl near the spine. This means less light gets there, making words on that side of the page more difficult to read. A wider inside margin eliminates this issue.
Not all printers and book designers will agree with these simple rules. For example, mainstream publishing houses typically print books with top margins that are narrower than then the bottom margins. They also typically include a running footer, such as a page number, in the bottom margin. Many who self-publish, especially those formatting their books in Microsoft Word, place the page number in the top margin because doing so requires less fussing around. You’ll have decide which approach to take, but know that in self-publishing equal top and bottom margins are quite common.
Sometimes the “rules” for margins have little to do with the page edge. The Chicago Manual of Style for example, recommends printing 65 to 70 characters (including spaces) on each line. This can be set if formatting Microsoft Word.
To set the margins in your book, go to Layout>Margin. In the drop down menu, click “Custom Margins” at its bottom.
For the left and the right margins, type 0.5. This will give you a half-inch margin on two sides of the book. Next, decide if you want your page numbers to appear on the top or the bottom of the page. If you want them on top, type 0.75 there and then 0.5 on the bottom. Swap those numbers if you want the page numbers on the bottom.
You shouldn’t need to change the gutter and gutter position numbers. In larger books, you might split the text into two or even three columns. The white space between these columns is the gutter. Usually, the gutter is no more than a quarter-inch wide. When dividing books into columns, make sure each column is the same width. Also, if you have three columns that seem awfully thin, it’s always better to opt for two wide columns. We’ll presume you’ll have only one column on each page.
Make sure the Orientation is set to “Portrait” and that Multiple Pages is “Normal.” Lastly, make sure Apply to is set to “Whole document.” Hit “OK.” The text on the page on your screen should automatically adjust to the new margins.
With the page size and margins set, you’re ready to move on to your text. We’ll tackle that during the next several sections.
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