How to Format a Manuscript for an Ebook

Publishing an ebook today is quick and easy. Once you have a great topic that interests you, the next step is formatting your ebook to sell or give away. Here are some tips.

Software


Most ebook manuscripts are typed using Microsoft Word. Word is easy to format and manipulate, which is why so many ebook authors choose to use it. It’s also easy to save a Word file over to a PDF, which is a common file format for finished ebooks.

Manuscript Settings

In Word, format the paper using the following settings:

  • Page orientation should always be portrait. Go to Page Layout, Orientation, and choose Portrait.
  • Use double spacing. Go to Page Layout, Paragraph, and choose “double” for line spacing.
  • Use one-inch margins all the way around the manuscript. Go to Page Layout, Margins, and choose the “Normal” setting, which assigns one inch evenly around the page. Or, go to Page Layout, Margins, Custom Margins, and choose one inch for the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right settings. Leave the Gutter Setting at zero and Gutter Position at left.
  • Use Times New Roman font, 12.
  • Use a 0.5 space indent for paragraph formatting. When you arrive at a new paragraph, hit “tab” and the cursor will indent to the 0.5 mark. Use this instead of an extra line to indicate a new paragraph.

Cover

If you choose to use a graphic cover for your ebook, it will go on the very first page. This is a personal preference, however, as some authors choose to start their ebook with a typewritten title page instead. The cover image of the ebook might then be used as a graphical selling point on a website, and not used in the ebook itself.

If you are using a cover image, save the file to fit an 8.5 x 11 inch size. Any size inside of this dimension will work. Make sure the cover image is saved to 100 dpi or less to ensure that it does not increase the file size of your ebook. Save the cover image as a JPG or TIFF file.

With your cursor positioned at the first point of the manuscript, click on Insert, then Picture. Choose the cover image file from your computer, and click to insert it. If you have already formatted your picture image to the right size, it will automatically be centered on the first page of your manuscript.

Another option is to use a text box for the cover image. For this option, position your cursor at the very top of your manuscript. Choose Insert, then Text Box. Choose Simple Text Box. A box with typing will appear on the screen. Drag the edges of the text box to within the column edges of the manuscript. The size you make the text box will determine how large the picture file will be when it is inserted into your fie.

When the text box is the size you desire, remove any typing in the box and position your cursor within. Click on Insert, then Picture, and choose your cover image file. Word will automatically convert the size of the graphic image to fit the text box you’ve created.


If you do not have a cover image, then you can type in the title and author name on the very first page of the ebook. Type the title so it takes up three-fourths to half of the upper page. Use a large font size such as 35 point. If you have an extremely long title, or a title and a subtitle, you might want to reduce the size of the font slightly, to 30.

At the bottom of the page, type and center the author’s name. A 24 point font works well for this. Make sure the name is at the very bottom of the title page.

Header

Place a header at the top of each page of your manuscript except the first (title) page. Your book title, name, and page number should be at the top. Create a separate header for even and odd pages.

Format the even pages first. Go to Insert, then Header. Scroll down through the options until you see Contrast (Even Page). Select it.

This header style is built in with page numbers/text already formatted. Enter your first and last name (or pen name) in the text section. Hit the Escape button to return to your document.

Now, choose the header for the odd pages. Go to Insert, then Header, and scroll down to Contrast (Odd Page). Click on it.

As with the even header box, you’ll see that Word has already formatted the page numbers here. Go to the top text section where it says “Type the company name” and highlight it. Type in the title of your book or manuscript.

Where it says “Type the document title” (below where you now have your book title) you can type your subtitle, or highlight the area and hit “cut” to remove. Please note: if you highlight it and just hit delete, the text “Type the document title” will remain once you return to your document. When you are finished with your header, hit Escape (“Esc”) and you are back into your document.

Notice to the Reader

The next page should be a “notice to the reader.” This page tells the reader they are allowed to download your ebook file but not sell it or pass it along to anyone else. The Notice to the Reader page will have your title once again, this time typed in about 14 point font. The copyright information, which is “Copyright © by AUTHOR NAME” should be typed in 10 point font.

On the next line, type your title in all caps in about 10 point font.

The next lines contain your publishing company information. Type the name of your publishing company and website address. If you have a post office box number for your company, this information can also be included. If the address for your publishing company is your home address, then leave that information off.

Following the publishing company name and address, list the cover art information. This should say “Cover art by NAME.” Fill in the person’s name who created the cover art. If that person is you, use your name. If you do not have a cover image for your ebook, you can skip this.

Next should be the following paragraph:

By purchasing this ebook you are stating that you are fully aware that you will be sent the ebook or download link via email and that this purchase is NOT refundable. Legally, you can save one copy of the purchased ebook to disk for your own personal use. However, it is illegal to distribute your copy to those who did not pay for it. You may not distribute the ebook to other individuals by using email, floppy discs, zip files, burning them to CD/DVD, selling them on any type of auction website, making them available for free public viewing or download on any website, offering them to the general public offline in any way, or any other method currently known or yet to be invented. You may not print copies of your downloaded book and distribute those copies to other persons. Doing any of these things is a violation of international copyright law and would subject you to possible fines or imprisonment. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information or retrieval system, is forbidden without the prior written permission of both the publisher and copyright owner of this book.

On the next line, list the ISBN if you have one. Not all ebooks will. For example, you can list an ebook on Amazon.com with their Kindle reader without an ISBN. However, if you plan on selling your ebook on your website or blog, it’s a good idea to have an ISBN.

Accomplishments

The page following the Notice to the Reader generally lists an author’s other works or accomplishments. If you have written other books, then type out “Also by” and follow with the names of the books. If you have created a game, teaching system, or any other accomplishment related to the ebook, then list it briefly on this page. If you don’t have these items, just leave the page blank.

Table of Contents

The next page allows for an optional table of contents. Type the name of each chapter, followed by the page number. If your ebook is short and you don’t have a table of contents, you can leave this section blank.

Text

Now you’re ready to start your text! This is the exciting part of writing. Craft your ebook text using double spacing.

Resources

At the end of your ebook, you may want to include resources to direct the reader to further information. These could be links to sites, books, or any other help information related to your ebook topic.

 

Freelance Writing Help (external links)
Writing Jobs That Help You Make a Real Living
 
Blogging With John Chow
 
Write an Ebook in 7 Days

 

Including links is a great idea with an ebook, but the Internet changes quickly. It’s always a good idea to put a page on your website or blog that includes updates to the links you have in your ebook. Direct readers to your website for a list of current links. That way you only have to update one location (your website or blog) and you don’t need to re-issue copies of your ebook with corrected links.

Author Page

Following the resources, include an author page. This page should be brief, with a list of your other related accomplishments or writing works. Include a small photo of yourself as well. End the bio with your website, where readers can find out more about you.

ISBN

If you have an ISBN, end your book with its listing. Put the ISBN on the final page, in the bottom right corner.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi! I’m trying to format my e-book, but I have an older version of Word and I’m not finding these formatting tabs you describe. Are your directions only for the newest form of Word, or am I missing something really basic? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Hi Sarah,

    These are for Microsoft Word 2007 and up.

    [Reply]

  2. Gus says

    Cherie,

    At the end of lines are we to hit or just keep typing. Also, while using Word, we do not hit twice for a new paragraph at all correct but we can hit the tab key to show there’s a new paragraph at whatever point we need a new paragraph???

    Thanks.

    Gus

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Hi Gus,
    At the end of the line just hit return.

    [Reply]

  3. Hannah says

    Is it necessary to reference material or information used?
    Most of the information I have gathered is from medical guides on the internet for my book.

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Hannah,
    Always be sure to reference the material you use.

    [Reply]

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