As I continue to wend my way through my final edits, the issue of formatting my novel correctly for publication has started to weigh on my mind. This is mainly because my editor has been less than happy with some of my formatting and it has made me realise that I don’t know what the rules are or if there even are any!
For example, I have indented every first line of a paragraph or section in the novel. I did this simply because that was the advice given in a blog article I was reading about how to format your book in Scrivener. I didn’t think twice about whether this is the normal thing to do when formatting your book. So when my editor pointed it out, I went and had a look at some of the books I have read, ebooks, paperbacks and hardbacks and guess what? There was a mixture of approaches. Some publishers indent, some don’t and for ebooks, especially self-published ones, it seems to simply be down to personal taste.
I scoured the internet then for some guidelines and of course, there’s no single definitive list but there are some generally accepted guidelines that I thought it would be useful to reproduce here. Please note that this list is for ebooks. I have tried to consider formatting in both Word and Scrivener.
1. Use a 1″ margin on all sides (Done for you in Scrivener).
2. You don’t need page numbers in an ebook because technically speaking, there are no pages (Done for you in Scrivener).
3. Left align the text (not headings) but don’t justify it.
4. Make sure the text is single line spaced.
5. Start each new chapter on its own page about a third of the way down the page (Done for you in Scrivener).
6. The body of the chapter should start about four to six lines below the chapter title (Done for you in Scrivener).
7. Indent each new paragraph of flowing text but don’t indent the first line at the start of the chapter or after a section break.
8. Don’t put in asterisks to show section breaks. Apparently, these date back to the days when people used typewriters.
9. Use a standard font like Times New Roman, Arial or Courier and use 12 point size.
10. Make sure your hyperlinks work! (This will usually be links to your details so it’s very important!)
You will have noticed that I labelled this post as #1 because I know for sure that you will all tell me of other tips that I can add to the list in the future and I’m sure I will come across other things when I finally come to format my book. So let me have it if you agree/disagree/have other ideas and yes, in case you were wondering, I know that rules are there to be broken!
Good luck with your formatting if you’re tacking it yourself. Thanks for reading as always and I welcome your comments 🙂
P.S. I hope you noticed the snow!