Formatting your ebook Part 2

smashwords template

Click for the template.

In Part 1, we looked at the initial steps in creating your own customized style for use in your ebook. We left off where we were just about to modify your first custom style. If you missed the first part, click here to find out where we are. In your new style, we were about to format Font and Paragraph styles:

Format Font

When you select ‘New Style’ you will presented with a dialogue box, in the bottom left corner of which is a drop down menu entitled ‘Format’.  In there, you will need to select ‘Font’.  This should hopefully be straightforward for anyone that has used word-processing software before:

modify font

Choose a font that you like. Please be aware that if you are writing a submission for a particular magazine / website, they may have a preferred font type and size. Make sure you know what is needed and make your selections here as appropriate.

Font colour should remain ‘Automatic’, simply because different ereaders may display your text in an unexpected way and may make it difficult to read.

Manage your fonts using this method. You could manually select the text in your document and change its style that way, but if the underlying style (what we’ve just done) is different, you might find your text coming out looking different to the way you intended. Smashwords will certainly look at the underlying style when it gets to your book. So if you selected text and changed it to Arial10, but it comes out as Times New Roman 12, that’s why.

Once you’ve clicked ‘OK’, go back to the drop down menu and select ‘Paragraph.’

Format Paragraph

There is quite a lot of important stuff here. We’ll take it bit by bit:

Indentation: If you open up a novel, you will see that the majority of the first lines of each paragraph are indented slightly from the left-hand edge of the page. To achieve this look, under ‘Special’, you will see ‘First Line’. Set this to 0.3 inches. This will indent the first line of every paragraph by 0.3 inches. Again, please be aware of any stipulations set down by your publisher / magazine in terms of indent size.

Spacing: For regular paragraphs, these should be set to zero, ‘Line Spacing’ single. This will give you text correctly spaced horizontally.

modify paragraph

That’s it! Click ‘OK’.   If you’ve done as suggested, you’ve created your first style – ‘Normal’ to your exact specifications – font, size, indent.

You will need to create a few other styles to complete your document. To do so, use the exact same method, but with different settings. Here’s a list of suggested styles:

NoIndent – Identical to the ‘Normal’ style, except for the ‘first line indent’. This should be set as 0.01 inches. Why? Because Kindle devices and apps automatically insert a first line indent where none is defined. So this ‘tricks’ Kindle into thinking there is already an indent, and if you notice, most novels have a block paragraph (not indented) as the first in each section and this makes your bok look more professional.

CenteredText / CenteredTextBold – Similar to Normal, just centre-justified, accomplished in the ‘Format Paragraph’ section, under ‘Alignment.’ Useful for front matter and some smaller section headings.

CustomHead – Used for the front page book title and chapter headings. The font size is slightly larger (done through ‘Format Font’), and there is a larger spacing before and after, to ensure that the headings sit nicely below the top of the page, with the text starting further down the page. This is also accomplished in the ‘Format Paragraph’ section.

modify paragraph2

Under ‘Spacing’, you will see ‘Before’ and ‘After’. Set the ‘Before’ to 40 – 60 and the ‘After’ to 10-20. Set the alignment to ‘Centre’.

That’s it for your styles! I would suggest creating a document with the styles just the way you want them, saving it, and then using it each time you want to start prepping you next ebook! You can create your own template this way, or use the sample one I have included, and modify that.

Next time, we will look at getting your content into the book, including a clever linked table of contents!


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