Basic Formatting

File Type

If you haven’t already, save your manuscript as a Microsoft Word document (.doc NOT .docx).


Use Times New Roman, font size 12.  Bold, Italics and Underlined font will show up in all ebook final formats.  Easiest way to make sure the font is the same throughout the entire book is to ‘select all’, then pick the font and font size.


Use single space formatting, left justified.  NEVER use tabs.  To automatically clear your document of tabs, use the find and replace function.  In the ‘find what’ line enter ^t  and enter nothing in the replace line.

The best way to ensure the rest of your formatting is clear is to set the style yourself.  Under the ‘home’ tab, click on the down arrow by styles:

On the pop-up at the bottom click on the AA button that is ‘new styles’:

Under the ‘create new style from formatting’ tab that pops up, select Times New Roman, Font size 12, name your style something like ‘book format’.  Click on the ‘format’ tab at the bottom, then ‘paragraph’, select all your settings to match this:

First Line Hanging by .25" (for a larger indent, select .5").  This will indent the start of each paragraph automatically.  Using tabs to indent your paragraph will create problems with your ebook and will often start each paragraph in the middle of the page when shown on the Kindle, Nook, etc.

Click ‘ok’.  Now you can go back, ‘select all’ text, open the ‘styles’ window again and select your newly created ‘book format’ style or whatever it is you named it.  This is the easiest, most efficient way to ensure formatting is correct throughout your entire manuscript.

For anything such as images or chapter headings that you want centered, you can go through the same steps, only create a new style called ‘book format centered’ and click on the ‘center justification’ button.  Now you can go through your manuscript, highlight anything that needs centering and select your newly created center style.  This is more reliable than tabs or using the center justification under the home tab.

A few more notes about paragraph formatting:


Insert images by clicking on the ‘insert’ tab, then ‘picture’.  Select the image from a jpeg or png file (don’t copy and paste), then center it using your newly created ‘center for book’ style.  Make sure there are not 4 or more hard returns before or after your image.  Be sure to insert your cover art image as the first page.  If you have a lot of images, make sure your file size is under 5MB.  If your file is larger than that, you can compress each image (right click on image, format picture, compress).  Make sure no images are 'floating images': right click on image, select 'in-line' with text.

Table of Contents

Every ebook should have a hyperlinked TOC without page numbers.  Create the TOC after the front matter (copyright page) and before your prologue/first chapter.  Your TOC should look like this:

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Name of Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Name of Chapter 2

Chapter 3: Name of Chapter 3

Left justify or center it, do not use any other fancy formatting.  Use the new style of formatting you created in ‘styles’.  At the beginning of each chapter, highlight your chapter name or ‘chapter x’, then click on ‘insert’ then ‘bookmark’.  Name the bookmark either ‘chapter x’ or the actual name of the chapter.  Word won’t let you have spaces or special characters.  Do this with each chapter in the book and anything else you want to hyperlink such as index, biography, epilogue, prologue, etc.

Next, highlight ‘Table of Contents’ and click Insert, Bookmark and label it TOC.

Now you will hyperlink each TOC item to the chapter headings.  Highlight the chapter item in your TOC, right click, click on ‘hyperlink’, and select the chapter name/heading that comes up in the list.  You may have click on ‘a place in this document’ in order to get your created bookmark list.  Repeat this for every chapter item in the TOC.

You can use the same process to link each chapter heading in your document back up to the TOC (highlight chapter heading, right click, select ‘hyperlink’, select ‘TOC’).

When you are highlighting text to add a hyperlink, never highlight to span across multiple paragraphs or hard returns.

Remove all hidden bookmarks in your document by clicking on ‘insert’, ‘bookmarks’ and clicking and unclicking the text box called ‘hidden bookmarks’.  Hidden bookmarks start with an underline.  Click the name of each hidden bookmark and click on delete.  

Finally, test all of your links to make sure they work properly.

Front Matter

On the very next page after my cover image, I insert a blurb about the book and list the books in the series:

List the title of the book, your name and what edition this is.  Include a copyright statement.  Use the word copyright instead of © as the symbol may not appear in some ebook formats.  Include a statement about plagiarism, if you want, and include credits to contributors (editors, graphic artists, etc.).  Mine looks like this:

End Matter

At the end of your book, include a short author bio with hyperlinks to your other published works and facebook/twitter/blog.  I also always include an excerpt to the next book in the series.

Insert Guide Items

This will allow readers to 'go to' specified sections in your book.

Click on the cover image, then click on 'insert' and 'bookmark'.  Type 'cover' in the window that pops up and click on 'add'.  

Click where you want your book to start, then click on 'insert' and 'bookmark'.  Type 'start' in the window that pops up and click on 'add'.  

Click on your Table of Contents, then click on 'insert' and 'bookmark'.  Type 'TOC' in the window that pops up and click on 'add'.

Guide Items

Most e-readers have the option to "Go To” the cover image, beginning and the Table of Contents of your book, anywhere from the content. These are defined by what is known as "Guide Items." To define the Guide Items, follow the below steps:

For the Cover Image: 
Click on the cover image, then click on “Insert > Bookmark.” In the ‘Bookmark name:" field, type “cover” (without the quotes) and click "Add."

For the Beginning: 
Place the cursor where you want the book to start, click on “Insert > Bookmark.” In the "Bookmark name:" field, type “Start” (without the quotes) and click "Add."

For the Table of Contents: 
Place the cursor at the beginning of the first entry in the Table of Contents. Click on “Insert > Bookmark.” In the "Bookmark name:" field, type “TOC” (without the quotes) and click "Add."  

Now that you have a basic formatted document, you can follow e-book formatting guidance from different venues and should not have to make too many changes.  See the 'resources' section at  for further guidance on formatting for the Kindle, Nook and at Smashwords.