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.
So you’ve got your paragraph styles and chapter header styles set up and your book is looking pretty awesome. Now you want to do something extra special that really makes it stand out – you want to add drop letters to the first word of each chapter.
You don’t want much do you.
Adding drop letters is both easy and hard. Unlike the chapter headers and paragraph formatting – drop letters can not be added to a style for quick and easy formatting (at least as far as I’ve discovered… so far). They’ll have to be added individually one a time. I suggest sticking with the same font choice as your chapter header but size doesn’t matter at all. This is best done in final edits, when you’re going through your finale read through – not while you’re writing the novel because they can screw up your nicely pre-formated styles if it’s inserted before the paragraphs are written.
Other than that they’re actually pretty easy to do.
Put your cursor at the start of the paragraph you want a dropped cap on. Select the “insert” tab of Word. Go to the “text” section and click on the little downward arrow to bring up “drop cap options” this is where you pick your font and how many lines down you want the drop cap to take up.
That’s it! Well, that’s it – that you’ll have to do for the first line of every single one of your chapters but overall that’s not so bad.
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.
There are a lot of software for book formatting and one of the easiest to use is MS Word. Do you create a paragraph style so it would be easier to apply the formatting?
Yes, I have my standard ebook formatting paragraph style set to load on all new documents for formatting ease.
I think it’s a mistake to think simply of “formatting” the interior of your book, one that I think reveals inexperience or amateurishness or something. And I don’t mean that as an insult. I just think that with the terrific growth of self-publishing efforts and, to some extent, the loss of the stigma of “vanity” publishing, has come the loss of gatekeepers. So the responsibility falls on self-publishing authors to both educate themselves about what it takes to make books that are as well-written (and this means professional editing, not just friendly reading groups), as well as well-designed, laid out, and typeset. (I’m speaking, of course, primarily of print books, as ebooks do, indeed, require mostly just formatting, rather than design, tho’ solid editing is still paramount.)
See–print again–formatting is really only about what type gets what sizes and styles. But a print book requires choices about page size, the dimensions and proportions of the text area; white space, as determined by leading and margins; as well as typeface choices and the presentation of any kind of art or graphics a book may have.
Don’t sell your book short by thinking only of formatting it.
Brevity is the soul of wit and since to format means both “the organization and arrangement of a specified production,” as well as “material form or layout of a publication,” I’m quite happy with my word choice though I do appreciate your feedback.
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