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Do You Make These Six Errors in Formatting

Do You Make These Six Errors in Formatting

Mistakes on formatting are one of the most common irritations for readers when they buy self published books, be they eBooks or Print.  There is a lot of bad formatting out there, never mind the grammar and editorial errors abounding from one English speaking country to the next.  

Grammar and Edits are different in each country whereas Formatting is the same the world over, well to a degree.  There are basic steps to take to avoid these errors which so many writers fall into.  First you need to work out what type of manuscript you are writing.  There are different formats for novels, poetry, non fiction and even anthologies.  So where does this leave us?  Either with a long and arduous learning curve or hiring a professional who knows what they are doing.



Click on this picture and you will see part of a novel which had very little formatting in the novel, meaning it is not ready for publishing as an eBook or Print.  Though there are various degrees of difference between them if you are computer savvy enough you can format your work easily.  Can you see the mistakes?

Let me tell you about them.


•     Indents are one of the most common errors I have seen in self-published books.  In fact I used to do the same myself until I did some research and training.

•     Manuscripts which are left aligned, making your work look untidy and unprofessional.

•     Book title and Author name in your header area before the prologue or first chapter.

•     Page numbers starting on the first page our your print book instead of on the first chapter.

•     Page numbers at the beginning of each chapter not relevant to the contents page

•     Page breaks in the wrong place can mean a chapter title can end up at the bottom of the last        chapter, hanging there all alone.

All these errors will make most readers wince, put the book down, never finish reading it or ask for a refund.  As a self published author, i’d hate this to happen to me, let alone anyone else.  If we want readers of the world to grab a good book then many of you need to up your ante with your formatting.

This is where I come in.  For a small cost I can format your manuscript to eBook, Print or both and these files once approved by you can be uploaded to Kindle, Smashwords and Createspace.  This in the long run will save you time and frustration especially if you are not computer savvy.

Of course there are many more formatting errors I could mention, especially when you think you manuscript needs to be laid out a certain way for Editors, Proofreaders and Publishers to be accepted and worked on.

Watch this space for more on Formatting.

9 Responses

  1. How timely — I’m just getting back to formatting. I published the first novel of my series in print a year ago; now I’m going to do the other 3 books, so am dredging up all the details of wrestling a Word doc into shape. Headers and footers are the toughest, in my experience. Ebooks are like a virtual scroll without page numbers or headers, but print books are physical, so you have to think in terms of 2-sided pages and which are odd-numbered and even-numbered, creating Section Breaks whenever the configuration of header and/or footer changes. It can drive you crazy, but when you figure it out, it’s ever so gratifying. I recommend using a trad-pubbed book of a similar type to the one you’re formatting as a model, paying attention to which pages should not have page numbers or headings.

    • Hi Audrey

      Glad I could help. I have a great system and have recently released a FREE Anthology to the word in eBook format, though there is a Print version as well. Formatting can be a pain, though I love it. Now it is my business to help authors get their work looking professional and get it up online. LOVE MY JOB. Good luck with your books.

  2. You DO indent right? I do…. but I’ve fixed the editing for others that somehow end up too big, or not indented at all.

    I try to keep the ebook as much like a paper book as possible.

  3. Excellent article. Some required items are different from editor to publisher. I speak from experience. And Lord knows, Claire has helped me on formatting, including recently, more than she should!

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