BookBaby's team of professional book designers can format your manuscript document into a great-looking, distraction-free, highly readable book interior. We know what it takes to make a book, and we guarantee you'll be happy with your results.
However, there are some things you'll want to keep in mind to have a smooth design process and ensure your designer has everything they need to properly format your book. Please review the below instructions so you can provide us with a clean, consistent manuscript document. The better-quality manuscript you provide, the less chance there is of delays developing during the formatting process.
Setting Up Your Manuscript
We'll need one single Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) document that contains your entire manuscript. Please combine all sections/chapters and frontmatter into one document in the order you would like for them to appear.
Keep your manuscript simple! It may be tempting for you to want to visually refine your manuscript, putting a lot of work into the formatting yourself to make it already look more like a finished book before sending it to us. Please understand that when you order Interior Formatting this is not necessary. Our graphic designers will be importing your Microsoft Word manuscript into our professional design and layout software. Any extra tabs, spaces and returns that you may have added for aesthetic purposes will only need to be removed, which can delay your project. We prefer instead that you communicate your formatting style preferences by providing us with links to book interiors in the Design Questionnaire section of your Project Center on the BookBaby website. Your graphic designer will review everything that you write in the Design Questionnaire before they begin, view any links/examples you provide, and keep your style preferences in mind.
Here are our recommendations for providing a high-quality, professional manuscript that is ready for formatting:
- Use basic fonts in your document, such as Times New Roman and Arial. Your BookBaby designer will evaluate your project and replace these basic fonts as needed to suit your genre and style, and to complement your cover design. If you have a specific font preference, you can let us know in the Design Questionnaire. Rest assured that our designers have many years of experience in typography and the expertise to select the best fonts for your book.
- Be clear and consistent with your Chapter headings; something that quickly lets the designer understand the structure and hierarchy of your work. If there are subheadings, use a bold yet slightly smaller font to reinforce your intended hierarchy relative to the Chapter heading. Here is an example of what we are looking for.
- Only use hard returns at the end of paragraphs. Using a hard return (enter key) in the middle of a paragraph or sentence within a paragraph will only cause delays. Sometimes authors put a return in the middle of a sentence because they want the line to break in a certain place in their manuscript. This is not necessary. Once we format your book to fit your trim size within industry-standard margins, it will likely have different fonts and spacing anyway, so you shouldn't worry about that sort of thing. Simply keep typing, and you’ll see that Microsoft Word will move to the next line automatically. If you’ve already completed your manuscript and have unnecessary hard returns, here is how to easily remove them before you submit your order.
Note: If you are publishing a cookbook, a poetry book, or some other book that utilizes a “list” format with shorter lines rather than full paragraphs, then you may keep the hard returns where appropriate.
- Avoid using soft returns. Authors will sometimes use soft returns (shift+enter keys) in place of hard returns within a paragraph or at the end of a line. Although this method of forcing a carriage return without a hard return may seem like a convenient way to skip to the next line, using soft returns will only cause delays and may introduce errors, as they need to be removed when we bring your manuscript into our professional formatting software.
- Avoid multiple returns. Sometimes authors use multiple returns to start on a fresh page or to indicate the passage of time in a story. The issue with this is that when we import your Microsoft Word file into our layout software and format it, the position of those multiple hard returns changes. Some land in the middle of a page, leaving us to question whether you intended for there to be a lapse of time, or just wanted to get to a fresh page. We recommend that you keep typing to get to the next page and don’t worry about widows or orphans, we will take care of that. If you want to use multiple spaces to indicate the passage of time or change of scene, consider using a dinkus (three asterisks, ***) between the two paragraphs. Yes, it’s really called a dinkus.
- Use Microsoft Word’s Insert Page Break function at the end of each Chapter. Sometimes it seems easy enough to press the Return key a whole bunch of times to get to a fresh page to start the next Chapter. If you do that though, your designer will need to spend time inspecting your document and removing those excess returns. A cleaner (and quicker) way is to simply insert a page break using the Insert Page Break function. NOTE: You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) use the Page Break function at the end of every page. Just keep on typing and Microsoft Word will do its thing and move to the next page as you type.
- Avoid pressing the space bar more than once. In contemporary formatting, one space after a period is the standard, not two. Introducing more than one space, whether it is intended to move a sentence to the next line, or to fake an indent, only results in extraneous spaces that our designers will need to search for and remove, which can potentially introduce errors.
- If you have images in your book, check your image resolution. To ensure the best print quality, your images should be rendered at 300dpi at the intended output size, then placed into your Microsoft Word manuscript. Confirming that your image resolution meets our guidelines before submitting your project will ensure professional results and prevent future delays. Here is a handy reference chart for checking your image resolution. If your images have captions, be sure to add them also. Our Design Preflight team will of course be inspecting your images and will alert you of any concerns. After all, we want your final product to look great!
- DON’T TYPE HEADINGS IN ALL CAPS. We recommend that you avoid typing headings in ALL CAPS. Our software can always change lowercase letters to upper case, sentence case, and title case. We can’t, however, always change text that has been typeset in ALL CAPS to upper/lowercase without manually doing so, which could introduce errors.
- Don’t Use separate text boxes in your manuscript for captions, callouts, etc. All text in your document should flow continuously. If you use separate text boxes they will not import correctly, and information can be lost. It will also make your manuscript incompatible for eBook conversion.
- Don’t copy and paste from the internet directly into Microsoft Word. Unwanted web coding may carry over with the text, increasing the chances of errors being introduced such as missing text, unintended bold or italics styles being applied, or unwanted hyperlinks appearing in your eBook.
- Finalize editor markup/editor comments: If someone has edited your manuscript, please resolve all comments by either accepting or rejecting them, then save your document. Not doing so could result in the changes not carrying over into the final layout.
- If you have a Table of Contents: Be sure your Table of Contents entries match the actual chapter headings in your manuscript. Our professional layout software will pull your chapter headings dynamically into the Table of Contents tool.
- If you'll be including footnotes, endnotes or an index in your manuscript, it is important that you use Microsoft Word’s functionality to create these elements. Using the built-in functionality will ensure that the notes remain properly linked when we format your book. Please note that Indexes will be removed from your eBook edition (if applicable).
- If your manuscript includes tables (columns and rows that are commonly used to organize statistics or data values), please prepare them as shown here, using Microsoft Word’s Table function. If you do not have access to this tool, a single tab between each entry will do, with a hard return at the end of each row. Doing so will allow us to render your tables quickly and efficiently in our formatting software. Please avoid using multiple spaces to visually align each entry in place of tabs, as these will need to be removed.
- Interior Text Formatting is not an editorial service. Please be sure that your document is the absolute, fully edited, final draft. We will be happy to make any necessary formatting changes after you receive your initial design proof. However, any editorial changes such as text, punctuation or grammar edits will incur additional fees.
- After you've placed your order, but before moving onto the design phase, your project will be reviewed by one of our Design Preflight Specialists. During this process, your Design Questionnaire, manuscript, and image files go through a rigorous and detailed inspection to ensure they are ready to be passed on to our design team. For a list of common Preflight issues and how to address them, see this page.