Lesson#1 – Setting Up The Interior of Your Book, Part I

First, some comments…

I  remind everyone that these lessons are meant for beginners to the process of self-publishing, or those who have previously paid for services they rather learn how to do themselves.  I am not a professional. I  am self-taught so I am sure that leaves me open to criticism about my methods and knowledge.  So be it.  I  welcome feedback from everyone, so leave your comments.  This should be a sharing experience from which we all benefit.

I  promised to discuss setting up your manuscript and that is what we’ll do here first and then we’ll cover other topics in the weeks to come.  This posting will concentrate on the interior of your book, specifically, not the front and back content, but the stuff between that you have slaved over for however long.  

I  have found working directly within the chosen measurements of my book works best for me.  I do not do a full-page, formal manuscript.  I would do that if I were sending my work off to a traditional publisher or agent. I suppose, too, that an editor would prefer a traditional manuscript.  I really don’t know since I can never afford an editor.  Also, I work off my monitor.  If  you prefer to proof and edit a hard copy, you may want to stay with a traditional manuscript too.  For me, however,  I want to see how things look as I go along.  It gives me the vibe that I am really putting a book together and it is just as easy to fix a lot of things as you write rather than having to go back over and transfer from a manuscript…not that there won’t be plenty more corrections anyway.

The first thing you need to decide is what size you want for your book. You can get advice on size and free pre-fabricated templates at several of the self-publishing web services. has a good collection of templates for all the usual sizes.  Search “templates” when you get to CS’s site.  Of course, you can always decide later to change the size of your book.  It’s no big deal.

There are templates for the interior content and for the cover.  For this posting, as stated, we will discuss only the interior content. What better way to get an idea how to put you book together than to look at  books currently on the market that are similar to the one you would like to produce.

Once you select the size of the book you want, you can go ahead and set it up in Microsoft Word.  Now, you may simply open one of the free templates available and begin working off of that.  It will establish your margins and other formatics and you should soon be off writing the next Harry Potter rage.

You may think me a bit strange. I do things the hard way.  I will use the template for its suggested measurements and then set up my Word document myself.  Why?  Well, first of all, it’s good to know how to do it and, secondly, if you decide you want to make changes later on, you can make the adjustments yourself without having to load a whole new template.  Knowledge is a good thing.

Because there are a good number of different versions of Microsoft Word and each has varying menus and different places where it hides or reveals functions, I cannot necessarily tell where to go to  accomplish certain actions.   I will have to assume you are familiar enough with your version to know where things are or how to search for them.

Okay, if you choose to do your own setup, open a new word document and click on the word “Layout” that appears on the bar menu just above the top ruler (It’s next to the word “home”).  This will open up a bunch of icons relative to choices you will have to make such as the size of your book and its margins. Go ahead and set the size of you book.  Next click on the down arrow next to the margins icon.  Scroll down to “custom margins” and click there. You will get a screen like the one on the left.

Check the template you’ve selected for information or go to a book you like and take its margin measurements. Then change the measurements in the drop-down window to those you want. Don’t forget the gutter.  The gutter is the space that appears at the inside seam of the book where the left page meets the right page.  If you don’t allow enough gutter the reader will have to spread the book open extra wide in order to see the words inside the seam.  The illustration on the right is how the margin window appears for my book, DEAD LETTER.  Notice that I had the margins apply to the whole document and I checked “mirror images.”  The header and footer measurements refer to how close anything in the header or footer will be to the top or bottom line of text on the page.  If you add material in either the header or footer, such as page numbers, you may need to adjust these measurements.  Click OK when you are done and your book’s overall appearance will follow these margins…most of the time.

Once you have set up your book’s size and margins, I’d open two blank pages side by side.  How do you do that?  Go to the very top of all the menu bars and you will see a white box with a number in it followed by a % sign. Next to that is a down arrow.  Click this arrow and a list of page size views will open.  Go to the bottom of the list and click on “two pages.”  Your monitor should now show two pages side by side.  If you have two pages of text saved on a document somewhere, copy and past the text onto these blank pages.  Now you will have an idea of how two pages of your book will appear.  

If you want to play some more, you may want to experiment with font, size and line space on these two pages.  Those are the topics we will cover in my next posting.  When is that?  Probably within a week.  I will announce it on my blog (, on my Facebook pages (both marckuhn and marckuhnauthor), and on the homepage of my website,  

Thanks much for your interest.  If you have questions or feedback send me an e-mail at

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