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Self Publishing with Microsoft Word
How to Design and Format Your Books for Print on Demand
(Word 97–2003 for Windows, Word 2004 for Mac)

By Aaron Shepard

General Info
Reviews and Comments
Sample Text

Nowadays, new technologies and services have made it easier than ever to publish your book. But if you mean to design it yourself, you may face an important question: Do I need an expensive page layout program like Adobe InDesign, Adobe PageMaker, or QuarkXPress? Or can I instead use a word processor like Microsoft Word?

If you know the basic principles of typography and book design—as well as the capabilities of your program—there’s no reason a book done in Word should look less than professional. With this book as guide, you’ll soon produce pages no reviewer will scoff at.

Topics in this book include speeding up Word, avoiding file corruption, optimizing Word for print, handling custom page sizes, structuring your book with Word sections, using templates, using styles, using print vs. typewriter typography, choosing fonts, formatting your text, setting up hyphenation, smoothing your paragraphs, controlling page endings, evening your pages, preparing and placing graphics, inserting text boxes, adding borders and backgrounds, using alignment aids, producing printouts for scanning, preparing PDF files, converting color for print, placing crop marks, creating a simple book cover, and many more.

Aaron Shepard

Aaron Shepard is a foremost proponent of the new business of profitable self publishing, which he has practiced and helped develop since 1998. Unlike most authorities on self publishing, he makes the bulk of his living from his self-published books—not from consulting, speaking, freelance writing, or selling publishing services. In a parallel life, Aaron is an award-winning children’s author with numerous books from publishers large and small.

Shepard Publications
Paperback ~ 2006

Note: This book was last updated in 2007.
Partial updates are on this Web site.

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Reviews and Comments

“On target . . . . Concisely addresses a lot of topics that Word users need to know about.”—James Felici, author, The Complete Manual of Typography

“Excellent not only as a guide to using Word to design books, but also as a concise guide to book design.”—Morris Rosenthal, author, Print-on-Demand Book Publishing

“If you are a self-publisher, the biggest favour you can possibly do for yourself is to learn how to present your work to its best possible advantage. And in that regard, Aaron Shepard is an invaluable aid.”—Michael Allen, Grumpy Old Bookman, Apr. 17, 2007

“If you want to use MS Word for typesetting, you really, really should own a copy of Aaron Shepard’s book Perfect Pages. Nobody knows more about making Word produce acceptably typeset books.”—Walt Shiel, From the Publisher’s Desk, Aug. 27, 2007

“If you want to make your layout and formatting as unproblematic as possible and you don’t want to shell out $1-$2k for someone else to do it for you, then add this book to your library. . . . Using this book, I’ve found page layout pretty fun and now look forward to that part of the process.”—Zoe Winter, Indie Books Journal (blog of IndieReader.com), Apr. 12, 2010


About This Book

Working with Word #1: Choosing a Version

1 ~ Managing Word

Managing Updates
Managing Options or Preferences
Managing the Workspace
Managing Automatic Changes
Managing Features
Managing Old Files
Managing Safety
Managing Memory

Working with Word #2: Using Views

2 ~ Formatting Your Document

Setting Up Your File
Setting Your Page Size
Setting Your Page Margins
Setting Up Sections
Setting Up Headers and Footers
Setting Up Columns

Working with Word #3: Using Templates

3 ~ Typesetting Your Text

Using Print Punctuation
Using Print Symbols
Using Print Emphasis
Using Print Spaces
Using Print Paragraphs
Using Print Vertical Spacing

4 ~ Formatting Your Text

Choosing Your Fonts
Choosing Your Font Size
Choosing Your Vertical Spacing
Controlling Horizontal Spacing
Controlling Justification
Controlling Hyphenation
Controlling Page Endings

Working with Word #4: Using Styles

5 ~ Perfecting Your Text

Fixing Letterspacing
Fixing Line Endings
Fixing Paragraphs
Fixing Page Endings

6 ~ Handling Special Text

Handling Lists
Handling Headers and Footers
Handling Page Numbering
Handling Footnotes and Endnotes
Handling Automated Text
Handling Indexes

7 ~ Handling Graphics

Preparing Graphics
Placing Graphics

8 ~ Enhancing Your Layout

Adding Tables
Adding Text Boxes and Frames
Adding Borders and Backgrounds
Adding Ornaments

Working with Word #5: Using Alignment Aids

9 ~ Preparing for Print

Choosing a Print Service
Centering Your Pages
Preparing Hard Copy
Preparing Word Files
Preparing PDF Files
Placing Crop Marks
Checking Your Work

10 ~ Creating a Cover

Setting Your Cover Size
Setting Your Cover Margins
Handling Cover Type
Handling Cover Graphics
Adding a Bar Code
Preparing Your Cover for Print
Checking Your Cover


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Sample Text

About This Book

Nowadays, new technologies and services have made it easier than ever to publish your book. But if you mean to design it yourself, you may face an important question: Do I need an expensive page layout program like Adobe InDesign, Adobe PageMaker, or QuarkXPress? Or can I instead use a word processor like Microsoft Word?

Ask a publishing professional, and you will usually be told that you need a page layout program. Yet many upstart and even established publishers use Word instead. Most of my own books are produced in Word—including this one.

It’s true that Word lacks some advanced typographic features found in page layout programs. But if you know the basic principles of typography and book design and how to apply them, there’s no reason a book you produce in Word should look less than professional. And if you don’t know those principles, then a page layout program won’t help you!

Besides that, a word processor can actually be the better choice for some books. Page layout programs excel at composing pages with substantial graphics and sophisticated layout, such as for magazines or textbooks. But they can be clumsy when handling long and complex text—which is just what Word does well.

Also, use of a page layout program makes more sense when the book designer is someone other than the author. For an author-designer-publisher, using one program for both writing and layout can simplify and speed your work. This is especially true if your book will need revisions or updates. A program like Word can automatically adjust for text additions and deletions in such a way that little or no manual reformatting is required.

Word is seldom surpassed in its abilities to create automatic tables of contents, indexes, and cross-references. It’s also excellent in its automatic handling of footnotes and endnotes—something a page layout program might not even attempt.

Finally, some publishers who have tried both Word and a page layout program will tell you that the page layout program may produce slightly better text, but that Word can more than make up for it with easier, speedier formatting.

In the past, one good reason to avoid Word for publishing was that its printer files played well only with desktop printers, not with printing presses. But Adobe Acrobat and its Portable Document Format (PDF) have changed that. Today’s digital presses easily handle PDF files created by Acrobat and other programs from Word documents.

Even better is to come. At this writing, Microsoft is revamping its word processor, with the first fruits due in 2007. Upcoming versions will feature built-in export to PDF, so that programs like Acrobat should be optional.

Also slated for development is the handling of graphics in CMYK, the full-color mode preferred by printing presses. This new capability should finally make Word suited to commercial color printing.

In this book, I’ll tell you how to produce pages that no book reviewer will scoff at, and I’ll offer other helpful tips as well on using Word. But, no, I will not tell you everything you’ll need to know. If you’re publishing with Word, you’ll definitely want a good, comprehensive manual on your version.

I also highly recommend that you get and read a copy of James Felici’s The Complete Manual of Typography. In fact, that might be the most important tip you find here! Though I’ve done my best to give you the basics of book design and typography, Felici will give you many of the details.

You’ll also want to look at a multitude of commercially published books for examples of typography and book design. See what works—and what doesn’t! And while you probably won’t want to exactly duplicate an existing book design, there’s nothing wrong with using elements that appeal to you.

This version of my book is based on Word 97–2003 for Windows, and on Word 2004 for the Mac. (If you’re still on Mac OS 9 and need to use Word 98 or 2001, please ask me for a free copy of my earlier ebook Books, Typography, and Microsoft Word.) Word’s typographic features do not change often, but its interface does—and 2006 will bring the biggest changes in over a decade. If you’re on a Word version that doesn’t show a command or setting where I say it is, please use Word’s Help function or your manual to find what you need. And if you discover an additional way to do something, consider it a bonus!

Though I can’t offer private technical assistance for Word, I welcome your feedback to help me improve future editions of this book. Please bring your comments and suggestions to my Publishing Page at www.newselfpublishing.com. And while you’re there, be sure to sign up for my email bulletin to receive notice of updates.

For more resources, visit
Aaron Shepard’s Publishing Page at