How to format your novel / book for Createaspace: The easy / lazy way.


So, after pressure from friends and family who still read on paper, I just formatted Dead Memories for Print On Demand on Createaspace.

Here’s the cover, cute eh? 1

But…why oh why? What did I do in a previous life to deserve that?

Maybe it’s just me, but even using their template, formatting a book for Createaspace drives me absolutely mental! The mirrored headers and footers and different sections just jump about all over the place and when you finally think you’ve got it, you hit save, close it, open it again and it’s changed.

I know I’m not alone because at least twice a month, someone asks me to help them format their book. So, this time, when I did it, I wrote the steps down. And here they are.

NB: 1 Before you start, if you’re working from the UK or anywhere else using the decimal system, go to PREFERENCES > GENERAL. At the bottom of this box, switch over your measurement preference to INCHES. The Brits hate to do this, but as you’ll be submitting to Createaspace and they do everything in inches too and as most book cover designs are in inches… well you get the idea.

Here we go…


  1. Open your finished manuscript (Which is already in the right fonts and sizes) and go to LAYOUT > PAGE SETUP > MARGINS > CUSTOM MARGINS. (This is the route in the Word Tool Bar. In full screen, this is the only tool bar you’ll see)
    1. Make the top margin 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.
    2. Tick Mirror Margins and OK
  2. In the same window, hit PAGE SETUP go to PAGE SIZE and scroll down to CUSTOM SIZE (There’s a SIZE under PAGE SETUP too, but no custom options here. So if you’re here, don’t panic. Back out and go the long way)
    1. Pick your size according to the print size options in Createaspace. e.g 5” x 8”, 5.5″ x 8.5″ etc. Click OK
  3. Go to FIND > REPLACE and type 2 spaces into FIND and one space into REPLACE. This will remove any accidental double spaces.
  4. SELECT ALL or APPLE + A and
    1. Change line spacing to 1.5.
    2. Justify your margins.
    3. Still in SELECT ALL go to LAYOUT > Hyphenation and click Automatic. Save                  images

Before we go any further, you have 2 format submission options in Createaspace and now is the time to consider these. If you chose to submit in WORD, Createaspase will convert your doc to a PDF and it may look a little different to your original. However if you submit a PDF you’ll need to make sure your program can also provide you with the size of page you have selected (5” x 8” etc).

PDF is the easier option! Also if you use a PDF you can skip the SECTION BREAK stuff and just make 3 PDFS (Front Matter, Story, Back Matter) and then combine.

It’s up to you.

But if your PDF maker doesn’t give you the right sizes, stay in word and submit in word watch out for SECTION BREAKS (ODD and EVEN) like this…



  1. Your Front Matter should include
    1. A title page with the title and your name in a larger font in bold. A copyright page plus ISBN. Optional: a dedication page. Optional: “Praise for” page full of nice things people have said about your book. Optional: Table of Contents (for short story or poem collections only. No one looks up chapters in novels)
  2. If you click now on DOCUMENT ELEMENTS > HEADER you’ll see it says SECTION 1. This is your front matter section and it shouldn’t contain any headers or footers or page numbers.
  3. Go to the first page of you story Familiarise yourself with how it looks, bring your mouse up to the top of the screen and the standard tool bar will appear.
    1. In VIEW, select DRAFT. Your manuscript will now look like it’s just come off a 1980s printer but you can see the formatting more clearly.
    2. In Draft, on the page before your story beings, after the text on that page finishes, click in, and go up to the to main toolbar INSERT > BREAK > SECTION BREAK . Insert a SECTION BREAK (ODD PAGE).
    3. Come back to View and select PRINT LAYOUT. Now the view looks like it did as before. Click in a header and it should say SECTION 2. New rules apply to this section as to the last.
  4. Go to the first page of you story Click into a header area, the HEADER & FOOTER toolbar shows up.
    1. Click the box for ODD & EVEN PAGES.
    2. Click the box for DIFFERENT FIRST PAGE
    3. Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS box is not selected.
    4. Choose your Header Style. (Blank or Basic). Save
  5. Now go to the second page of your story and click into the header.
    1. Do a visual check in the tool bar for HEADERS AND FOOTERS that LINK TO PREVIOUS IS STILL UNCHECKED.
    2. Type the author name in caps.
    3. Highlight and right align it. (Some people prefer their name and title in the middle, but if you get the right, left alignment mixed up, the final version will look off. And this is the easy / lazy version of the formatting)
  6. Next page (third page)
    1. Click the Header and type the book name in caps.
    2. Highlight, left align it.
  7. You’ll now have your name on the left and your title on the right on the mirrored pages. If you prefer them swapped, swap them.
  8. Go back to the first page of the story and make sure nothing showed up in the header. If it did, go back to the Header Footer toolbar and make sure, different first page is still selected.
  9. Check the header hasn’t shown up on the Front Matter.
    1. If it has, you need to select this header, delete it, unclick LINK TO PREVIOUS
  10. Go back to the second page of your story.
    1. Click in the footer
    2. Go to DOCUMENT ELEMENTS in the toolbar.
    3. Choose PAGE NUMBER. Choose Bottom of Page. Choose Outside. (Because you already selected different First Page, you shouldn’t see a number on the first page. If you do, check these boxes again. You can also check the “Don’t show on first page” option, but if you haven’t selected Different First Page, you’ll still need to do this to stop the header showing up on the first page)
    4. Go to the next page and repeat. As these are odd and even pages, word will know to run them consecutively. Save.



  1. Go to the end of your story and add another SECTION BREAK. This time SECTION BREAK – NEXT PAGE. You can check in VIEW – DRAFT that it’s there come back to VIEW and click in the header. It should say SECTION 3.
  2. Now start your Back Matter: your bio, contact and follow data, thanks and acknowledgements.
  3. This section should also be free from Headers and footers and page numbers. Save

Now check and submit. Convert to a PDF if you like.

TROUBLESHOOTING (aka burying your mistakes)


So, some common issues in Createaspace that might come up are blank pages and odd pages starting on even numbered sides. i.e , the first page of your story shows up on the left hand side.

Both of these issues can be corrected with some creative additions of Section Breaks and page breaks. If you have 2 blank pages between your front matter and story, go back to the DRAFT view and see if there are section breaks or page breaks which are invisible in Print Layout.

If you story starts on the wrong side. I.e the left, add a SECTION BREAK (EVEN PAGE) right after the SECTION BREAL (ODD PAGE) as you see it in the draft view.




I don’t know why we writers seem so inept when it comes to formatting a book, but hey, we do. And I suppose if the templates on CS were easier to us, they would be able to sell any of their $199 formatting packages.

All the best.