Living just east of Crazy

Setting up the Page Layout (Typesetting your manuscript–article 5)

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Mar• 13•12

There are a few things to consider when choosing a page layout. The first and most obvious is the size of the book you plan to use. If you are going to be using CreateSpace or Lightning Source, check out the standard layouts they accept. I highly recommend staying with common book sizes. The most common size for most book types is 6×9. That’s 6 inches wide by 9 inches long. Most printers (including CreateSpace and Lightning Source) accept 6×9 books.

The margin is the next decision you need to make. For the best results, try to stay between 1 inch and ½ an inch. I prefer to use ¾ of an inch (0.75) for my margins. This allows me to print my header at ½ an inch and maintain a nice look.

The header and footer text will print outside of the main text area, so these margins must be smaller than the text margins. For example, if you set your page margins for .75, then you will need your header and footer margins to be smaller. Maybe something like .5. If they were the same setting, the footer would print on top of the page text. If they are too close, it will look like a misprint or part of the page text. I recommend keeping the headers and footers at least .25 (1/4 of an inch) away from the page margin.

If a margin page is too narrow, the printed text will show up in the gutter of the book. This is the area near the book’s binding.

Line Spacing

When submitting a manuscript to agents or editors, the standard formatting is double-spaced lines. This may be the standard for evaluating manuscripts, but it is not the standard for printing a book. Double-spaced lines do not look good in print.

There are a lot of line spacing options, but this writing is intended as a quick reference for the most common book types. I recommend changing the line spacing to 1.0. If the lines look crunched together, you can manually set it to 1.15 or something similar. To set this option, highlight the entire document, or if you want to exclude the title page, place your cursor in front of the first letter of chapter one, and then press Ctrl-Shift-End. This will take you to the bottom of the manuscript and highlight all the text from chapter one until the end.

From the Home tab, click on the drop-down arrow beside the line spacing icon. See below:


1.0 looks good for most books. You can also click Line Spacing Options and manually adjust it to your liking.


An orphan is a word or line of text that is left hanging by itself. In a printed book, this can be very unattractive. You don’t want to have the last few words of a chapter sitting alone on a page. Usually orphan control is enabled by default, but to make sure it’s turned on, do the following.

Place your cursor anywhere in a body of a normal text paragraph. Make sure the Home tab is selected, and click the expansion button under Paragraph. See below:


Go to the Line and Page Breaks tab and make sure the Window/Orphan Control is checked.

Setting the Page Layout

Most of Word’s templates are designed for paper sizes used in office environments. The easiest set up is to use the custom size option. To access this, click on the Page Layout tab in word and then click the expansion icon at the bottom right of the Page Setup menu.

Click the Paper tab.

Under the Paper size, click the drop down arrow, and then scroll down to Custom size.

Change the Width to 6

Change the Height to 9

Change Apply to: Whole Document

See below:


Once applied, the entire document will shrink to 6×9 and the page count will be renumbered. If you already have a table of contents, you will need to update it.

Setting the Margins

The look of the margins of a book is up to the author’s preference, but these are the measurements I use in my books. As stated earlier, you must consider the gutter of the page, header and footer, and one other thing – trimming.

Trimming is what the printer does after printing the book. The pages are squared off for a perfect fit, and though modern technology can get close, there is always excess paper printed and then cut away. If text runs close to the edge of the page, there is a chance the text could be trimmed away. Or the text could end up too close to the edge of the page and look amateurish. These settings create a safe distance for all the variables of printing.

Click on Margins.

Change the top, bottom, left, and right margins to .75. This is ¾ of an inch.

Make sure the orientation is in portrait mode – unless you have a reason to print in landscape.

The gutter should be 0, and the gutter position Left.

Change Applies to: Whole Document.

See below for an example.


Feel free to adjust this to your taste, but stay away from the edge of the page, gutter, and the headers and footers.

Header and Footer Layout

The headers and footers are measured from the edge of the page. As stated earlier, the distance from the edge has to be smaller than the margins of the printed text. Too close and it will look amateurish or even print incorrectly.

Click on the Layout tab.

Change the Header to .5

Change the Footer to .5

Change applies to: Whole Document

See the example below:


The header and footer do not have to be the same, but in most cases, it looks more symmetrical and creates a professional appearance. You may want to experiment and see what looks best for your style of book.

This example book doesn’t use headers, but I’ve included them so that readers who use headers will have these settings

Authors pay hundreds of dollars or more to get their manuscripts typeset. Researching these things took a lot of work and I’ve made them available to you for no cost. If you want to show a small token of thanks, purchase one of my books on Amazon. The ebook versions are only .99 cents.

Eddie Snipes © 2012

View the other articles in the series by going to http://www.eddiesnipes.com/writers-tips/

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One Comment

  1. Great detailed resources, Eddie. Thanks for giving us a place to refer writers!

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