The Self-Publishing Insider

What is book formatting, and do you need it as an author? Find out here from Publish Pros.

What Is Book Formatting?

As a storyteller, your main focus is getting your thoughts and words onto the page. You let the words flow, creating an immersive journey and a path for your reader to follow. But as a professional author, your work doesn’t simply stop there. Once you’ve created your manuscript, it’s time for the editing, book formatting and layout work to begin. Regardless of whether you are doing print-on-demand or publishing an eBook, it’s important to format your book in a way that looks professional and attractive to your readers.

What’s the difference between book formatting and layout?

It depends on who you talk to in the publishing business. Some use the terms interchangeably – like we do at Publish Pros – while others describe them in distinctly different ways.

In simple terms, both relate to the overall appearance of your book. Whether it’s on a printed page or on an e-reader, your book will have a certain look and feel, and the more consistent and professional it looks, the more it appeals to your readers’ eye. When done well, book formatting and layout usually goes unnoticed. But when done poorly, it can detract from your work, pull your audience out of your story, and even cause you to lose readers.

Formatting focuses on the overall structure of your book. Think of how your manuscript document looks in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. The program usually defaults to a certain font type and size, like Times Roman or Calibri, and, unless you take a lot of time to adjust things like spacing or indentations, your work will look more like a business document than a professional book.

Meanwhile, book layout or design is a bit more complex, but works in conjunction with formatting. For example, open up a couple of printed books and set them side-by-side. Do you notice how each of them treats elements like page numbering, headers, margins, text alignment, and spacing? Do chapters consistently start on a new, odd-numbered page? Is the text block fully justified with consistent, even margins? Are there any weird word, line or paragraph breaks that don’t make sense or distract your eye?

How do I know which type of book formatting I need?

The right formatting depends on the type of book you produce. Certain genres lend themselves naturally to specific formats and layouts, and a professional design team like Publish Pros can help you better understand your options.

If your book is text-heavy, with few or no images or tables, or you know you’re publishing an eBook, basic formatting may be all you need. This service is usually more budget-friendly, especially since there is less work involved to prepare your manuscript for publication. However, it’s still time-consuming and tedious, especially if you’re not an experienced designer or publisher.

If your book has a lot of images, charts, text boxes, or tables, a more detailed book layout may be a better fit. Our team uses Adobe InDesign to place text and images in a creative, consistent layout that enhances readability and creates more visual appeal to your readers.

You also may need a mix of services, where an expert team can simultaneously format interior pages and design an intriguing book cover, or create custom formats and designs for multiple editions of your title, like a print version and an eBook version.

Let’s design something together

While formatting and layout options can vary greatly, we have the expertise to create just the right look for your next book. Ready to get started? Publish Pros is here to help. Check out our professional layout services and packages and let us be your personal layout and design partners. Contact us today to learn more!