Saturday, October 2, 2010

Formatting a Book in Word 2003 for Publishing with Lightning Source (LSI)

As a rule, new publishers have little money, and need a way to economically produce professional looking books. Here is the question many new publishers ask: Can Word 2003 produce a professional looking book?

The answer is YES. You don’t need a book designer or fancy software to make a professional looking book.*  Word is especially excellent for producing fiction novels. Diamond Press has now published two romance novels, entirely formatted in Word 2003. In fact, I just received the proof for the second book in the mail today, and was thrilled by how professional it looks—and all by using only Word! In this article, I’ll show you how to do the same. A warning--this article is very much a technical, “how to” post on how to format your book in Word for publishing through Lightning Source. You may want to open your manuscript file and work on it as we go along.

First of all, you must decide which LSI trim size you would like to use to publish your book. LSI offers 5” x 8”, 6” x 9” and so on. To peruse a list of all the book sizes Lightning Source offers, go to LSI’s home page (, go to “File Creation” and select “Cover Template Generator.” On that page, you’ll see that you can choose creme or white paper (I like to use creme for a fiction novel). In addition, in the pull down box next to “Book Type,” you’ll see a list of all of the book sizes available through LSI. For fiction and most books through LSI, you’ll want to choose “perfect bound,” which means a trade paperback. Choose the size you want, and take note of it. (For fiction, I like to use the 5” x 8” size, while for nonfiction, author Aaron Shepard likes to use the 6” x 9” size for his wonderful books on POD publishing.)

Now you’re ready to set up your book in Word. (By the way, for an example of how Diamond Press has used Word to publish a book, click here to download a sample Word Doc (5" x 8" size) of an actual book that has been published through LSI. It includes all of the front matter and a few pages of Chapter One.) Click on the next link to download an example of a 6" x 9" nonfiction book. (Please disregard the paragraph spacing in this example, as it is a diary. Most books are single-spaced with indents, not double-spaced between paragraphs.)

For the sake of this article, I will assume that you would like to publish a book in the 5 x 8 trim size.

Change Paper Size in Word

First, you’ll need to change the paper size in Word to 5 x 8. This way, you'll know what the finished product looks like (on the screen, at least). It will also then be ready to be easily converted to LSI's required PDF format.

Go to File—Page SetUp, and click on the Paper tab. It'll probably have 8 1/2 x 11 as the paper size. Just type in 5" in the width section and 8" in the height section. To adjust the margins, (still in Page Setup) click the Margins tab. Under the "Margins" section on the page, type in the margins you want. Here are the margins I like to use:

.75 on top, .46 on bottom, .65 (for a bit more room, .75 works well) on inside (left), .5 outside (right)

If you would like to have mirror margins (the inner gutter is different than the outer gutter), on that same page go to the "Pages, Multiple pages" section. In the pull down box select "Mirror Margins." Again, you can take a look at this Word document formatted for Lightning Source to see exactly what numbers are typed into the various boxes.

Choose Your Font and Line Spacing

Choosing a font for your book is a very important decision. You want the font to be clearly legible and professional. A number of fonts will fit this bill nicely. I like to use Georgia, because it looks crisp and professional, and prints well through LSI.

Select all of the text you’d like to format, and then go to Format—Font, and choose the font and point size you'd like. (For the main text of the book, I use Georgia, 10 pt.) Next, go to Format—Paragraph and choose your line spacing. Under “Spacing” choose “0 pt” for both “before” and “after” boxes. Next to this, in “line spacing” choose “exactly,” and next to it, “At;” choose 13 pt.

If you’d like to use a different font, just experiment by trying different typefaces and line spacing values. Print a page of each experiment, because then you’ll see how it will look when it is printed by LSI. (For a 6 x 9 book, author Aaron Shepard reports using 12 pt Georgia with 15 pt line spacing.)

Justified Margins

Most books are published with justified margins. If you’d like your book formatted with justified margins, go to Format—Paragraph—Indents and Spacing. Under “General” Alignment choose “Justified.” Next to this, in “Outline level” choose “body text.” Please be aware that if you choose “justified, you will need to go through your book again and possibly re-center chapter headings, etc. Under the “Indentation” section, choose “0” for both left and right pull down boxes.

Use Indents instead of Tabs

Under the “Special” pull down box, choose “first line indent”. Under “By” choose 0.25” or 0.33”—or whatever you’d like the indent to be for the beginning of each paragraph. If there are paragraphs in the manuscript for which you don’t want an indent, this can be adjusted easily.  First, place your cursor where you’d like the indent removed, and then with your mouse go to the top ruler and slide the indent triangle to the zero position. This procedure may need to be done for centered Chapter Headings as well.

Using indents rather than tabs is especially important if you’d like your books converted into Kindle or other ebook formats in the future. According to Smashwords documentation, tabs do not work well for ebook formats. In fact, if you have tabs, you will need to delete them. Select the tab, copy it, and then in Edit—Replace, paste the tab in the “find” section, leave the “replace” section blank, and replace all tabs in the document.

Headers and Footers

I like to use headers without footers, because then I can get more printed lines of the novel on the page. I use a different header for the left and right pages, and include the page number in the Header box. To accomplish this, you’ll need to make several additional formatting changes in the Page Setup box.

To make these adjustments, go to File—Page Setup—Layout. Under the Headers and Footers section, check the two boxes entitled “different odd and even pages” and “different first page.” In the dimensions box type the following: Header: 0.4”, Footer 0” (use “0” only if you don’t plan to use a footer—if you do, then experiment to figure out the best spacing for the footer). At the bottom of this page, under the “Preview” section’s “Apply to” pull down box, select “This section.” Click Okay to save changes.


In order to prevent headers/footers from printing on the front matter of the book, and the first page of each chapter, you will need to do the following:

At the bottom of each page of the front matter go to Insert—Break, “Section break types” and choose “even page” (at the end of the first page of front matter), “odd page” at the end of the next, and so on, until you’re ready to begin the first chapter. At the end of the page preceding the first chapter, choose Insert—Break “odd page.” (This will ensure that your first chapter begins on an odd page.) Subsequent chapters can be sectioned off by using the section break for "next page." All of these page break options will give the next page a “first page” status, and the headers will not print on these pages, since you’ve already selected the option “different first page,” above.

Additional Helpful Setup Options

Go to Tools, Options, Compatibility and check the next box:
"Don’t Use HTML paragraph auto spacing"

ALWAYS make sure the Widow/Orphan box is marked. (Format—Paragraph—Line and Page Breaks, check “widow/orphan” box.)

At any time, in order to show the hidden formatting on the page (especially useful when dealing with section breaks), go to Tools—Options—View and in the "Formatting Marks" section, check the box next to "All."


Set all hyphenation to ON. (Tools—Language—Hyphenation)
However, sometimes you won’t want a word hyphenated, such as at the bottom of a page which leads into another page, or for other aesthetic reasons. If this is the case:

To delete the hyphens in the entire paragraph, highlight the word, then go to:
Format—Paragraph—Lines and Page Breaks, and click “don’t hyphenate.”

Sometimes choosing this option results in large gaps between words on the line, or in the paragraph. If this is the case, undo the last action and highlight the line with the word you don't want hyphenated, go to Format—Font—Character Spacing, and under “Spacing” reduce it by 0.1 pt. The selected characters/words on that line will be scrunched a bit closer together, which may eliminate the need for hyphenation. See if that works better.

Final Details

When you have formatted your book the way you’d like it to look, view the book under “Print Preview,” and choose the “two pages” option. The first page of your front matter should be on the right side, with no page at all on the left. The first page of your first chapter should be on the right as well, preferably with a blank page on the left, preceding it. Again, please take a look at this example to see how it should look.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through a whole lot of technical details! You’re well on your way to publishing your professional looking book through Lightning Source.

* You do not need a book designer or fancy software unless you are producing books that include a number of graphics, pictures and tables which require exact placement on the page. If this is the case, you might want to use InDesign (or a similar program) to produce the professional books you need.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.”
~ Psalm 119:105


  1. This is very helpful! Thanks so much for the example excerpt.

    On a side note:

    If you have word 2007 another way to avoid the heading/footer issue is to use section breaks and make sure that Link to Previous is UNCHECKED in the header/footer ribbon. This way you only need to put in one section break (I usually set mine as "start on next page", but it doesn't matter) If the Link to Previous is unchecked, you can simply delete the page number on the first page of the section and it will delete it from all the pages in that section. To make sure your page number is 1 on the first page of your book text (as opposed to tile pages, etc.) you can go under the Page Number menu and choose "format page numbers" and pick the number you wish to start from (or use the continue from previous). this is really handy if you want chapter names in your header.

    I don't know if this works in word 2003 or older, though, but it does in 2007, anyway.

  2. Thank you, Joleene and Gang Chen, for stopping by, and for the helpful comments!