Formatting Tips – Save Money on Professional Formatting Services

Guest post by Darla Mittler, CEO of Darla Mittler Document Magic.

When the fine folks at Fireblade first suggested that I write a blog about formatting, I was reluctant to divulge any tricks of the trade. In light of some of the recent manuscripts I’ve seen, however, I have changed my mind. Here are some tips about e-book formatting that will help you to do it yourself, or help reduce the cost of formatting.

To take control of your formatting, you need to be able to see the formatting mark-up. Look for the pilcrow (it looks like a backwards capital ‘P’ and, unlike the Piltdown Man, it is real) in the ‘Paragraph’ section at the top of the ‘Home’ tab in MS Word. In earlier versions of MS Word, you will find it by going to Tools – Options – Formatting Marks; then click ‘All’. Now that you can see the funny formatting marks, we can move on to cleaning.

Eliminate, Eradicate, Exterminate, Remove:

1. Ditch the headers and footers. They have no place in .epub and .mobi.

2. Tabs must go. Do not use tabs to create indents.

3. Extra spaces (hitting the ‘space’ bar before a paragraph starts or after it ends) are a no-no.

4. No page numbers. You don’t need them in e-books.

Formatting Friends:

Ctrl + F (hold the Control key and press the letter ‘F’) and Ctrl + H (hold the Control key and press the letter ‘H’) are your friends. Ctrl +H more so, because you want to ‘Find and Replace’ a bunch of stuff. With Ctrl + H, you can quickly and easily eliminate many formatting errors like extra space before and after paragraphs and those pesky tabs.

Take Out Tabs:

1. Open the ‘Find & Replace’ menu by using Ctrl + H.

2. In the ‘Find What’ box, type in ‘^t’ without the quotation marks. (The ‘^’ is what you get when you hold Shift and press the number 6 at the top of the keyboard.)

3. Put nothing in the ‘Replace With’ box.

4. Hit the ‘Replace’ or ‘Replace All’ button.

Note: You can get the ^t into the ‘Find What’ box another way. Look at the bottom left of the menu for a button that says ‘More’. Click on ‘More’. Look at the bottom of the newly expanded menu. See the button that’s marked ‘Special’ in between ‘Format’ and ‘No Formatting’? Click on ‘Special’. Look at the list that pops up and find ‘Tab Character’. (It should be the second listing from the top.) Click on ‘Tab Character’ to have ^t pop into the ‘Find What’ box.

Eliminate Extra Space at Paragraph Ends:

1. Open the ‘Find & Replace’ menu by using Ctrl + H.

2. In the ‘Find What’ box, press the space bar once and then type in ‘^p’ without the quotation marks.

3. In the ‘Replace With’ box, type in ^p with no spaces before it.

4. Hit the ‘Replace All’ button. You may have to repeat this process a few times to eradicate all the extra spaces.

Note: You can get the ^p into the ‘Find What’ box another way. Look at the bottom left of the menu for a button that says ‘More’. Click on ‘More’. Look at the bottom of the newly expanded menu. See the button that’s marked ‘Special’ in between ‘Format’ and ‘No Formatting’? Click on ‘Special’. Look at the list that pops up and find ‘Paragraph Mark’. (It should be right at the top of the list.) Click on ‘Paragraph Mark’ to have ^p pop into the ‘Find What’ box.

Reduce the time and cost of having your manuscript formatted by using these simple tricks.

Darla Mittler portrait for blogDarla Mittler is the president & CEO of Darla Mittler Document Magic. With a personal library of well over 1000 physical books, over half a decade as a Mass Media Buyer for a major bookstore chain, and insights into e-publishing, Darla is ready to help authors bring their works to market.

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About Fireblade Publishers

Fireblade Publishing is a one stop publishing service that approaches every aspect of the publishing process with passion and dedication.
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3 Responses to Formatting Tips – Save Money on Professional Formatting Services

  1. It’s great to see my name somewhere other than my own blog. Looks great. I’ve posted the first two paragraphs on my blog and included a link to read the rest on your site. I’ve also added your rss feed to my newsreader. I’m looking forward to seeing your future posts. Good luck!

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