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 What Every Author Needs To Know: About Formatting [Part 2]


First, make a backup of your manuscript. Next, copy and paste your entire manuscript into Windows Notepad (usually found in Programs: Accessories) or any other text editor. This will strip out all your formatting. Close Microsoft Word. Then reopen it to show a fresh empty document. Next, in Notepad, type CTRL+A for “select all” then CTRL+C for “copy” then paste into a the Word document. From here, reformat the book per the style inforamtion above.

8) Reformat normalized text

After you do everything above, you’ll need to go through and re-check the formatting. Some items may have shifted because of the steps above. Bolds may disappear, centered items may become left justified, font sizes may have changed, and spaces between paragraphs may have disappeared. Just go back and fix, but make sure everything is Normal text and make the font sizes, line spacing and text justification consistent. If you find you change the normal text and suddenly Word labels it something other than normal text, then it means you didn’t successfully disable Word’s nasty auto-format features above in Step 3.

9) IMPORTANT Never Use Tabs

Never use tabs or the space bar to create indented paragraphs. An indent is the space in front of the first line of every paragraph. Indents are important visual cues that help guide the reader from one paragraph to the next. If you use tabs or space bar spaces instead of a proper first line indent, our HTML and Javascript online readers will automatically remove the leading spaces or tabs from your text. To create a proper first line indent, follow either steps above, or use Word’s “ruler-bar” indent feature (see instructions and image a few paragraphs down). Never never use tabs or space bar spaces. Always make sure you have “show/hide” activated, per instructions above, otherwise you won’t see these tabs and spaces.

10) How to automate the removal of tabs and spaces

If you try to manually remove, one by one, the tabs and space bar spaces that comprise your improper indents, it can take hours. Luckily, Word’s search-and-replace feature takes only a few seconds. If you used tabs, press CTRL+H to “find and replace,” or from the menu select Edit: Replace. Then for the “find what” line enter ^t (the “caret t” is the symbol for tab) and then in the Replace space don’t enter anything (If instead of tabs you have multiple spaces, then determine the number of spaces you use, then click to the “find what” field, and hit your space bar by the same number of spaces you’re currently (improperly) using your indents, and then hit “replace all”).

To eliminate all your tabs, enter ^t in “find ” and leave  “replace ”  blank. Then click the “Replace All” button.

11) How to Code Normal Paragraph Style

Next, assuming you haven’t already followed the step above to code your Normal paragraph style to automatically apply first line paragraph indents, you’ll can manually apply indents to the entire document, all at once, using the ruler bar feature.

12) Apply Indents

You nailed the hard part. Now, to apply indents to the entire document, type CTRL+A (to “select all” and highlight the entire book; or, from the main menu, click Edit: Select All) and use the manual indent bar thingy to click on the top slider with your mouse and slide the top piece of the indent bar to the right to the proper position, usually about three ticks. That will become your indent (Note: before you do the above procedure, make sure you’re not using tabs in other bad-habit ways, like to center text.

Eliminate all tab usage in your ebook. If you’re using Word for Mac, the ruler-bar fades almost to the point of invisibility after you click CTRL+A (but it’s still there). Next, review your document to clean up any remaining anomalies. If you apply the ruler bar indent to the entire book be sure to go back to your title and copyright page and remove the first line indents and then center the text for a good-looking title/copyright page. You may also need to manually remove the first line indent from other paragraphs or lines that don’t need them.

13) How to create block paragraphs

Some authors prefer not to use indents. Instead, they use block paragraphs like this page. Block paragraphs are paragraphs separated by a trailing space after the paragraph. To create the trailing space, go to Format: Style: Modify: Paragraph and then select the trailing space you want. Most people do 6 or 10 pts. Select 6pt, then click OK, then click the Apply button to apply it to all your Normal paragraph style.

The first paragraph return is after the period of your last sentence of the paragraph, and the paragraph coding gives you separation between paragraphs. If you’re writing fiction, I suggest you DO NOT use block paragraphs. First line indents will give you a better looking book than block paragraphs.

14) Line Spacing

Make sure the line spacing is set to single. Never set it to double (that will make your book look ugly), and NEVER set it to read “Exactly” followed by a point size specification under the “At:” box. This usually renders your book completely unreadable because it can cause lines to overlap on top of one another.

15) Paragraph Returns

Make sure you only have paragraph returns at the end of a paragraph, not at the end of each sentence or every line (unless of course you’re doing poetry). A paragraph return, created by hitting the “Enter” key on your keyboard, tells the reading device it’s the end of the paragraph. They look like this: “¶” To view the location of your paragraph returns, activate Word’s Show/Hide feature, covered in Step 2. If you do not have the show/hide feature activated now, stop what you’re doing and activate it, because without show/hide, you’re editing blind.

Do not use multiple consecutive paragraph returns to force page breaks or to arrange text on the screen, because they’ll create a poor reading experience by creating blank pages or unsightly gaps in small-screened e-reading devices. They will also disqualify your book from distribution in some catalogs. Never use more than four consecutive paragraph returns at a time to arrange text on the page.

If you’ve made it this far, congrats… now take a breath then Click the picture below for part three!


Oh, and my deepest thanks to Ross Murphy for providing me with these guidelines!


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