Book Formatting for Print-On-Demand

First, what is book formatting your print-on-demand book?

The last line of your book is written. The editing is done. You are ready to design your cover. And you may have selected one or more self-publishing services for print and distribution. But, before uploading your manuscript, before paying for a proof copy to check quality, it is important to dedicate time, and sometimes money, on properly formatting your print book interior files.

Book formatting, or typesetting, is the composition of the text and how it appears to the reader. To compete with traditionally published books, readability is important. Whether you intend to sell your book or you just want to keep it as a personal edition, you likely want your book to look professional. Editing is one aspect. Cover design another. And, not to be overlooked, the appearance of the text on the page is just as important. Because it goes back to ensuring the book is easy to read.

You may be wondering what does print book formatting involve?

  • Page size
  • Font size and font type
  • Line spacing
  • Paragraph composition
  • Page numbering
  • Margins, bleed, gutter, and page breaks
  • Chapter title presentation
  • Plus more

So, like with other parts of self-publishing a book, do you hire a professional or do-it-yourself?

Here are some guidelines we recommend on Book Formatting for Print-On-Demand.


Professional Print Book Formatting:

If you have the financial resources, hiring a professional to help produce your book is an option that will save you time and energy.

For a print book, you might be formatting different trim sizes for each distribution service. And, in self-publishing, there are several reputable companies dedicated to book production. From editing, to cover design, to, you guessed it, book formatting. These companies know the requirements for each platform and will take on the responsibility to leave you more time to write.

But it might be hard to parcel through what is out there and what is reliable.

B&N Press has partnered with two trusted companies offering format, design, and layout services:

By working with either team, you will be certain to get a top-rated experience as well as the reassurance you will have a quality product in the end.

Before choosing, though, be sure to compare for options, pricing, and other features such as eBook formatting and file conversion.


Do-it-Yourself Print Book Formatting

Why spend the time and energy formatting your book yourself? Well, because it’s free!

You cannot really beat that kind of incentive. Especially, when there are numerous resources available to guide writers through the process.

Ok, but where do you start?

First, again, make sure you format your files according to the self-publishing service’s guidelines. Each platform may have slightly different trim sizes and requirements for print books.

For instance, B&N Press only allows for PDF and Word formats. But there are handy Tutorials and a Quick Guide to help create print-ready files. B&N Press even has interactive images as you build your book in our dashboard to help visualize the layout of your interior.

But print book formatting is not an easy process. And, even if you do it yourself ,you might want to upgrade from using MS Word, which is not a book formatting tool. In that case, there are designated apps to help facilitate proper book formatting.

Purchasing an app, while an upfront cost, may save you time and money down the line. If you are looking to write multiple books, investing in a formatting app might also be worth considering for the long term.


What else to consider with print book formatting?

Trim Size:

Trim size is, essentially, the size of your book. And different trim sizes will have different costs. The bigger the book, the bigger the printing cost.

If you want to get an idea of how much your book will cost to print and how much money you will make, you can use the B&N Press Calculator to identify the different trim sizes and associated pricing.

Other than cost, how do you choose the right trim size? Your trim size should also reflect the genre or type of book such as a children’s picture book has a larger trim size, while a historical romance could be smaller, mass market size.

B&N Press offers over 20 different trim sizes:

  • Fiction: 4 x 6 ; 4.25 x 7 ; 5 x 8 ; 5.25 x 8 ; 5.5 x 8.5 ; 6 x 9 +
  • Novella: 5 x 8
  • Children’s:  7 x 10 ; 10 x 8 +
  • Textbooks: 6 x 9 ; 7 x 10 ; 8.5 x 11
  • Non-fiction: 5.5 x 8.5 ; 6 x 9 ; 7 x 10
  • Memoir: 5.25 x 8 ; 5.5 x 8.5


Font Size and Type

The standard font size and type is 11 or 12 point serif. Serif fonts, like Georgia and Palatino, allow for the letters to stand out better to the reader. And, in fact, the wrong font type could detract from not just the content of your book, but the quality of your work to format the interior.

Suggested font types:
  • Garamond
  • Baskerville
  • Minion Pro
  • Cormorant
  • Caslon


Front Matter and Back Matter

It’s important to remember there are other pages of text in your book than the story.

Front matter are the pages at the beginning of your book such as copyright and dedication. Back matter could include an index or an author bio.

It is important that front and back matter are included in your book and also properly formatted.

Other Front Matter:
  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
Other Back Matter:
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendix
  • Other Books by Author
  • Back of Book Ad


Print book formatting may involve many different aspects. But the final thing to remember is be proud of what you accomplished. You wrote the book you want to read and now you want to share it with the world. And in the end you must be happy with the book you’ve written and produced.

These are only guidelines, but we hope they help make the process of creating your book a little bit easier.

For more self-publishing resources, check out our other tips & tricks such as 5 Self-Publishing Steps for Success and 5 Questions to Ask before Self-Publishing Your Book.


Write on!

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