Book Interior Formatting: Chapter Headers

Formatting. Every time I finish a book and start the process of formatting it for print, I have to run around and look at at a thousand different pages trying to remember everything I know about formatting. Every time, I end up looking up half a dozen new pages because I’ve lost or misplaced my bookmarks. Every time, I feel like pulling out my hair because it’s a lot to juggle while distilling it all down to the vital bits. This time I’m writing it all down as I go, so there will be a handy guide for next time and so other indie authors have a useful one stop shop for all their info.

It’s time for chapter header formatting! I’m sure you’ve noticed that a really well formatted book (ebook, paperback or hardcover) has a very distinct and separate type of formatting just for the title header. This is where you’re most free to get down and get funky with your font choice, you can pick just about anything you have the license to (or that’s open source) that’s easily readable and that you feel enhances the feel of your book. I highly suggest trying out several different fonts to find what suits your book best!

Chapter Header Formatting

By now you’ve already gone through the paragraph formatting section, which will come in handy for this section.

First thing’s first: spacing.

You may have noticed that in a nicely professionally formatted book there’s space between the end of a chapter and the start of a new one (and that chapter headers use all kinds of fancy spacing techniques that separate them from the text but I’ll explain that bit next). It’s relatively easy to add a proper space between the end of one chapter in the next, just go to the “Page Layout” section of Word, pick “page breaks” and scroll down to the “odd page” break. Select that and it’ll automatically format your chapter breaks more professionally for you.

Next is spacing the chapter header. Highlight your text, and chose “Paragraph” down arrow again so you can fudge with the spacing. Here you can choose to center your text, or left align it (depending on how you want your chapter header to look) but it’s the spacing before and after that really makes this style sing. Make your before line 100 points to have your chapter header appear nicely down from the top of the page, or put 100 points after to put a lot of space between your chapter header and the first paragraph.

Experiment to see what works best for your book then save the whole shebang as a style just like you did with the paragraph formatting!

Now it’s just a highlight and click to lend a very professional and uniform look to almost all of your book. Well done!

Be sure to check out the other steps on formatting your paperbacks interiors with Microsoft Word:

And as always – if there’s anything I’ve neglected to cover that you want to know, just ask in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help.


2 thoughts on “Book Interior Formatting: Chapter Headers

  1. It is always best to apply paragraph and character styles in doing book formatting so that whenever there are formatting changes that needs to be done in your manuscript such as change of font types, font size, and spacing, you’ll just have to tweak the paragraph styles just once. No need to edit page by page.

    • Yes. None of these tips need to be done paragraph by paragraph, that’s why I suggest using styles as a way to save your formatting options for easy reference as you progress. Usually I have my word documents default to my ebook paragraph style, for example, then add in line breaks and paragraph styles as I go.

      Makes everything very easy though it’s not too hard to use styles to go back and format an entire book this way (highlight all, choose your paragraph style, save, use find to locate each chapter and insert line breaks as you format each chapter header with the appropriate style, save, add front and back matter as the format requires, save again, etc.).

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