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Mastering Book Formatting: Elevating Your Manuscript to Professional Standards

  • Post category:Publishing
  • Reading time:7 mins read


Book formatting is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of the publication process. It’s not just about making your manuscript look good – it’s about transforming it into a professional, market-ready product. From choosing the right font to deciding on the layout, every detail contributes to the reader’s experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the nuances of book formatting, introduce you to leading software options, and offer in-depth advice on how to work effectively with a formatter to elevate your manuscript to professional standards.

Software Solutions for Book Formatting

There are several types of software available to assist with book formatting. Here are some popular options:

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is widely used by authors and publishers for book formatting. It offers a range of formatting tools, such as font styles, spacing options, and paragraph formatting. Word also allows you to create headers, footers, and table of contents. Your manuscript will often be delivered in a Word format for you to provide to your book-formatter.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a professional desktop publishing software commonly used in the publishing industry. It provides advanced formatting options and precise control over layout elements. InDesign is particularly useful for complex book layouts, such as those with multiple columns or images.


Scrivener is a popular writing and formatting software designed specifically for authors. It offers features like outlining, organizing research materials, and compiling manuscripts into various formats. Scrivener simplifies the formatting process by providing templates and easy-to-use tools.

In addition to the widely-used Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, and Scrivener, two notable software options have gained popularity among self-publishing authors:


Vellum is a user-friendly formatting software specifically designed for self-publishing authors. It stands out for its simplicity and elegance, offering an array of beautiful templates and easy-to-use tools. Vellum allows you to create professional-looking ebooks and print books, with features like automatic widow and orphan control, drop caps, and decorative flourishes.


Atticus is a newer, versatile formatting tool that is rapidly gaining traction. It offers an intuitive interface, making it accessible to both beginners and experienced authors. Atticus supports various formats, including print and ebook, and provides a wide range of customization options. Its compatibility across multiple platforms (including Windows, Mac, and Linux) makes it a flexible choice for authors. Atticus is the format we work with for self-publishers who use our services.

Working With a Book Formatter: Advanced Advice

When working with a book formatter, it’s important to provide them with the necessary materials and information. Here are some key things to consider:

Understand Your Format

Know whether you’re formatting for print, ebook, or both. Each format has unique requirements – for instance, ebooks need reflowable text, while print books require fixed layouts. Most people will want both.

Finalize Your Manuscript

Before handing over your manuscript, ensure it’s fully edited and proofread. Formatting should be the final step before publication. This can often be the biggest issue when people submit to us for their book to be formatted and we start seeing big errors. Take the time and ensure your proofreader and editors have done their job properly.

Discuss Your Vision in Detail

Go beyond basic style guides. Discuss elements like the feel of the book, your target audience, and any inspirations you have. The more your formatter understands your vision, the better they can bring it to life. We ask a lot of questions to our self-publishing authors to ensure we understand upfront what they want and will often do a chapter first and make sure the author is happy.

Consider Front and Back Matter

Don’t overlook the importance of your book’s front and back matter. Discuss with your formatter the inclusion of elements like dedications, acknowledgments, and information about the author, as well as marketing pages like calls to action or previews of your next book. Be prepared and ask for advice on what works and doesn’t work. QR codes and links should be provided, along with ISBNs for the different formats, logos, etc.

Optimize Images and Graphics

If your book includes visuals, provide high-quality images and discuss how they should be integrated. Your formatter can advise on the best resolutions and formats for print and digital versions.

Collaborate and Review

Engage in a collaborative process with your formatter. Be open to suggestions and willing to review and provide feedback on the formatted versions. Provide feedback early in the piece. We also provide a service free of charge to ensure links can be added afterwards and resubmitted to publishers such as Amazon to things such as review pages (these can only be done after your book has been published).

Understand the Technicalities

Familiarize yourself with basic formatting terms and concepts. This will help you communicate more effectively with your formatter and understand their choices. Share any specific style preferences or guidelines you have for your book. This includes decisions regarding font choices, chapter headings, indentation, and any other design elements you want to incorporate.

If you have a cover design ready, share it with your formatter. They can ensure that the formatting complements the cover design and creates a cohesive look for your book

If you have a cover design ready, share it with your formatter. They can ensure that the formatting complements the cover design and creates a cohesive look for your book.

If your book includes images, illustrations, or other graphics, provide high-resolution files to your formatter. This will ensure that the images are displayed clearly and accurately in the final formatted version.

Tips and Advice to Get the Most Out of Your Formatter

Working effectively with a book formatter can greatly enhance the quality of your final product. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your formatter:

1. Communicate Clearly

Clearly communicate your expectations, preferences, and any specific formatting requirements to your formatter. This will help them understand your vision and deliver the desired result. Provide examples of the formats you like. The hardest thing is making decisions on the many facets that will make up your final formatted book.

2. Provide Feedback

Review the formatted version of your book carefully and provide constructive feedback to your formatter. This will help them make necessary adjustments and ensure that the final product meets your expectations.

3. Be Open to Professional Advice

Book formatters are experienced professionals who understand the industry standards and best practices. Be open to their suggestions and advice, as they can provide valuable insights to enhance the overall quality of your book.

4. Plan Ahead

Give your formatter sufficient time to complete the formatting process. Rushing can lead to errors or compromises in quality. Plan ahead and discuss timelines with your formatter to ensure a smooth and timely collaboration.

5. Check Formatting Guidelines

If you plan to self-publish or submit your book to a specific publisher, check their formatting guidelines. Different publishers may have specific requirements, and following them will increase your chances of a successful publication.


Book formatting is an art that requires attention to detail, an understanding of publishing standards, and a keen eye for design. By choosing the right software and working closely with a skilled formatter, you can turn your manuscript into a polished, professional book ready to captivate your readers. Remember, the way your book is presented can be just as important as the content within. Make book formatting an integral part of your publishing journey to truly showcase your work in its best light.

One Final Thing

After your book has been formatted, you will know your final page count for your paperback and hardcover book covers to be finalised. You provide this page count to your cover designer, who will then finalize the PDFs required for you to publish your book! Congratulations, now you need to work on reviews and marketing …

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