8 Book Formatting Tips for Your Fiction or Non-Fiction Manuscript

8 Book Formatting Tips for Your Fiction or Non-Fiction Manuscript

What are fiction and non-fiction book formatting tips to help you nail the fundamentals?


Making a great first impression with your book is vital, and hopefully, by following some of the book formatting tips, you’ll be off to a great start. Regardless of whether you’re self-publishing a fiction or non-fiction book, professional book formatting is vital.

To help make your life just a little bit easier, we’ve compiled eight formatting tips that are essential to give your novel or book a professional-looking interior design that readers will fall in love with.

If your book layout looks amateurish or unprofessional, it could not only lead to a bad review, but it could prevent a reader from reading other books that you’ve published. You need your reader to fall in love with all aspects of your book, including the cover, interior, and the story itself. So regardless of where you’re selling your book, Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, or your own website, professional formatting is vital!

Your book formatting should help your reader along their journey through your book, not make it harder to read than it needs to be. However, achieving professional book formatting can be difficult, and if you need any assistance, don’t hesitate to check out our fiction and non-fiction book formatting services. Also, if you have any questions about professional typesetting or book interiors, please feel free to contact us.


8 Book Formatting Tips Every Author Needs to Know!

book formatting tips

Keep the Margins Nice and Roomy!

For first-time authors, page margins can be a real issue. It’s always tempting to try and squash as much text as possible into a page to reduce the page count and cut down on printing costs, but don’t do it! If your margins are too tight, it can make your pages look very cramped, and your text will start to creep into gutters.

This will result in your readers having to break open the book’s spine just to read the end of a sentence, which won’t be a great reading experience. However, by giving your readers plenty of space in the margins, they’ll be able to comfortably hold and read your book and also make some notes if they want.

How much margin is enough margin? For a 5 x 8 book, try .625. For a 6 x 9 book, .75 is a great starting point. Your inside margin should be a little larger than your outer margin so sentences don’t run into your gutter.


Choose Fonts That People Can Read

The font you choose needs to not only look great but also be easy to read. Remember, your readers will need to be able to read that font for hundreds of pages. Fonts like Caslon, Minion, Janson, and Garamond are tried and true favorite fonts for many authors. These fonts were designed for books to make the experience better for readers.

If you want to try and walk on the wild side with your font choice, try looking at fonts in a paragraph or page sample, not just a sentence. Remember, while it’s good to be an individual, authors consistently choose the same fonts for their books for a reason.

Also, any script fonts or cursive is excellent for showing handwriting or diary entries, but they’re challenging for some people to read, so use them sparingly.


Utilize Comfortable Leading and Type Size

There’s no hard and fast with type size, but a lot of industry paperbacks utilize an 11-point type size. If you make your font too big, your book will look like one of those ‘large print editions’ and too small, and your readers will need to carry a magnifying glass around with them just to try and read your tiny type size.

What’s leading you might be asking right about now? Leading is the space between the bottom of one line and the top of the following line. When you format using Adobe InDesign, you’ll have much more control over your leading. An excellent way to adjust and fine-tune your leading is to try different line spaces and print a page to see how they’ll look on paper.


Justify Your Text

When you justify your text, both the left and right sides of the text run entirely up to the margins on both sides of your page. It makes your book text look nice and neat. All word processors should have this as an option. In fact, this text has been justified.

If you look at any professionally formatted book, you’ll notice that they use justified text. The idea behind the justified text is that not only does it look better, but it also makes large chunks of text, such as the text in a novel, easier to read. Rather than focusing on the jagged edges of text, your eyes flow smoothly down the page as you read.


Indentation on First Lines of New Paragraphs

You need to ensure that the beginning of any new paragraph is easy to see on the pages of your book. Otherwise, your text will look like one big run-on block that looks terrible. If you indent your first line by ¼ inch, it’s enough for your first line indent.

While a lot of writers, especially those that are writing online, separate their text with a line, for printed books, an indent is more effective and looks more professional.


Utilize Running Headers and Footers

Although a running header is optional, it’s precisely that sort of detail that will make your book formatting and interior design look and feel professional. This is the small heading that will appear at the top of the main block of text on each page of your book. Your header will usually contain the book title and author name. Sometimes, authors prefer to add the chapter title instead of the book title. Therefore, the information in your header will alternate between the left and right pages, author on the left book title or chapter title on the right.

Rather than having all that book information and page numbers on the headers at the top of the page, you can shift the numbers to the footer at the bottom of the page.


Give Your Chapter Starts the Special Treatment

Your chapter beginnings are different from the other sections of your book and have their own unique rules and standards. Below are some rules to consider for your chapter beginnings:

  • Always start each chapter on its own new page. To take this further, you could consider starting a new chapter on a new right-hand page, but that’s a personal choice, not a requirement.
  • You want to start your text on your chapter page about a third of the way down the page. You can simply put the chapter number, or you can add the word chapter and page number.
  • Adding styles to your chapter pages or decor is a great way to add a little flair. Consider using the font from the front cover or adding an image or illustration that’s consistent with the theme of your book. Make sure that the text you choose works with your body text, not against it.
  • Remove your running headers and footers from your chapter pages, they don’t need to be there, and it’s a common amateur mistake to leave them.
  • You can also remove the indentation from your first paragraph on the chapter pages. Drop caps are an excellent option for chapter pages or capitalizing the first few words of a sentence.

By using a combination of these elements on your chapter page, you’ll ensure that your book interior looks professional and also has a little bit of style and flair.


Marking Your Scene Breaks

It’s not uncommon for chapters to have scene breaks in the middle or throughout them. It’s a way to differentiate between different events, character perspectives, or just time periods. You have several options when it comes to scene breaks.

One option is to add in a blank line to signify a scene break, or if you want it to be a little fancier and have some style, you can add more space and put a small décor item, logo, or symbol into your scene breaks.


8 Formatting Tips for Your Fiction or Non-Fiction Book – Conclusion

There you go! 8 formatting tips for your fiction or non-fiction book to help your book look more professional, make it easier to read, and hopefully guide your readers toward leaving you a positive review. Hopefully, if they love the first book of yours, they read, they’ll grab another one!

Getting your formatting just right can be highly time-consuming and frustrating. So why not leave it to the professionals? At Author Services Australia, our professional formatting team can assist you with both fiction ebook and paperback formatting and non-fiction ebook and paperback formatting.

If you have any questions about book formatting, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly. Our friendly and professional book formatting and book interior team would love to help take your book to the next level!

Comments (2)

  1. Avijit Saha

    very nice tips. thanks for your good suggestions

    1. Clayton Hobbs

      Thanks! Just a few basic formatting tips, but when you’re first starting out they’re easy to over look!

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