Thursday 17 June 2021

Publisher-friendly formatting

Different publishers ask for different things these days. However, there is a default  industry / academic way of formatting:

  • Double spaced

  • Ragged right

  • All new paragraphs should be indented but the first paragraph of each section should be “full out”

  • Font: Times new Roman 12 point (a few others are also acceptable)


Changing a word document to a camera ready file

Publishers and academics ask for the above for ease of reading and editing. Once all the editing is complete the file needs to be changed into something that’s easy for the reader in print form and on an e-reader (ePub for most platforms and mobi-file for Amazon Kindle)

So we get:  

  • Single spacing
  • Blocked text  (though books for emergent reader and some picture books are still ragged right) . Note that this causes some hyphenation – it’s balance between not having too many hyphens and not having too many big spaces.   

  • New paragraphs still have indents and the first paragraph in new sections is still full out. The indent is a little smaller.  

  • Times New Roman point 12 is still popular though sometimes a font without a serif is used for younger readers.

  • We try to avoid “widows”( the first line of a paragraph as the last line on a page)  and ”orphans” (the last line of a paragraph appearing at the top of page). Note, though, on e-books this is impossible to avoid; readers set their own font size so page breaks differ for each reader.     


First step of design

Our first step in designing a book is to turn the whole text into another Word style. We don’t ask our writers to present in that style as the one described above is common, so they are used to it and it helps with editing.

The conversion is easy and I can actually do it and watch TV at the same time.


A sticking point

Some writers use the space bar to create indents. This creates hard work for us. Others use web lay out and it’s then sometimes hard to see where they mean paragraph breaks to be. Also, in the latter case our formatting style then doesn’t always pick up what are new paragraphs and what are new sections.

So, here is what we prefer you to do.  

Use the paragraph tool in your home ribbon: 


Click on the arrow in the bottom right hand corner to expand the tool: 


Make sure your box look is like this i.e. 


Alignment is left, outline level is body text. Left and right are each o cm, spacing before and after are each o pt. Double spacing .

Important: Special is set at First Line. (note this give the default of 1.27 cm indent). During our first stage of design we alter this to give a smaller indent.

Now mark all of your text and apply this paragraph style.

Now go back and change the special to “none”. Mark the opening paragraphs of each section and apply this style to those paragraphs   


If you get his right you can save us 50% of our design time and we’re more like to produce exactly what you had intended.


A word about section breaks  

We tend to favour just using an extra line between paragraphs and “full out” for the next section. We’re not keen on rows of asterisks or similar. This is partly because  when we create a section break with a “full out” paragraph and an extra line the e-reader formatting programme puts in asterisks. So, we may end up with two lines of asterisk.

Identifying what are real section breaks often causes a headache so this is something  that you can usefully establish with your editor before your book goes into design.


Not every publisher asks for this – and some may even want something more complex.  But this is what we like.


Happy formatting!                  


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