After posting my blog article, Formatting Your Children’s Book, I was asked about the specific settings for a Word document. There are a lot of factors that will determine how to set-up your children’s book, but I’ve included my basic settings. Let’s get started.
For this example, I will be using Microsoft Word 2013. If you are using another version, your screen may look a little different.
The first thing you need to do is determine the size of your book. For my children’s series, I use a 5.25″ x 8″ size for my paperbacks. This is an industry standard size. However, you will need to determine what size is best for your project. Please keep in mind that if you are doing a children’s chapter book the larger the dimensions, the more interior content you will have to produce.
Why is this important? Depending on your word count you may want to stay towards a smaller size if you want to have printing on the spine–which I highly recommend! The reasoning is because some distributors/printers require a certain page count before they will allow a spine to be printed.
I have found for my series that the 5.25″ x 8″ size is perfect for my books, which average about 140 pages including front and back matter.
The next thing you want to do is to set your margins. I set my margins to 1″ on the top and bottom. This allows ample room for my page numbers. The inside margin is set to .76 and the outside margin is set to .6. The gutter is set to .14. Also, please keep in mind that your settings may vary depending on your book size.
Make sure you mirror your margins! This is very important for the layout of your book. Be sure to enlarge the graphic to see where to implement this feature in Word.
Be sure to justify your pages.
The first line in every chapter should not be indented! This is an industry standard practice.
Do not use the tab key in your document. Instead, change your paragraph settings to use “First Line.” I set mine at .3 instead of the default .5.
These are the basic settings of the layout for the document. Of course, there are many more steps involved. You will want to set-up your headings, sections, paragraphs, and table of content. If you are going to use Word for producing your books and are unfamiliar with the program, I highly recommend taking either an online course, class at your local junior college, or at the very minimum, getting yourself a good reference book.
If requested, I will do follow-up articles explaining how to set up the various components listed above.
Creating your document file for a book layout is not as intimidating as it might seem. Also, YouTube can be a wealth of information. Especially, if you are a beginner or visual learner. The videos can help you to grasp basic concepts of using Word. As to more specific questions regarding using Word for your books, again, I’m happy to answer my fellow author’s questions. Just give me a holler!
Wishing you all the best,