Home  »  FAQ  »  Manuscript Formatting

Manuscript Formatting FAQ

General Book Formatting:

While formatting my manuscript, does Trafford have any suggestions to help create a clean and professional layout?
Should I include my cover in the manuscript?
How should I set up my title page within the manuscript?
What kinds of pages and information are typically included in a book?
What is the proper order for the beginning of my book, or front matter?
What is the proper order for the end of my book, or back matter?
Do I need a table of contents?
Where should credits and information regarding such items as permissions, editor names, illustrators, etc., be located in the book?

ISBN:

What is an ISBN?
Do the numbers in an ISBN have any meaning?
Can I use an ISBN that I previously purchased for my manuscript?
How can I obtain the ISBN for my Trafford published book?

More Detailed Book Formatting Information:

Should I use footnotes or endnotes?
What fonts can I use in the book?
Can I publish a book in languages other than English?
What is the average font size for the main body of text?
What is an index?
Do I need an index in the back of the book?
Can Trafford create an index for my book?

General Book Formatting:

While formatting my manuscript, does Trafford have any suggestions to help create a clean and professional layout?

Yes, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing your manuscript that will greatly increase the overall professional appearance of the book.

Consistency throughout the book goes a long way to adding to the professional appearance of your book. Consistency applies to various levels including the font throughout the body text, line spacing and justification, paragraph indents, spacing after a period, chapter starts, dashes, and other kinds of punctuation. The line spacing and font size and style should be consistent throughout the main body of the text, although bold or italics can vary. (However, it is best not to overuse bold, italics, or underlines, which can be very distracting to the reader). To ensure that paragraph indentation is consistent, use the same spacing each time using the tab key (not by pressing the space bar, which can cause inconsistent spacing). Alternatively, some authors prefer to have a space in between each paragraph instead of an indentation.

Just make sure you are consistent each time. If you incorporate scene breaks in your book, use a consistent number of spaces or a glyph for each break, whether it is one or two lines, or three or four asterisks. Some authors use one space after a period, and others prefer to use two spaces. Decide what you like better and keep it consistent. The same rule applies for punctuation styles, like an em or en dash, smart quotes or straight quotes, ellipses, etc. You can use the "find/replace" function in Microsoft Word to assist you in locating and changing these details so they are consistent. See our help video library for a video tutorial.

The readability of a book is extremely important since it is the means through which you will reach your audience. The main aspects that affect readability are font style, font size and line spacing. While your chapter-start titles, title pages, etc., can use more decorative and ornate fonts, the main body text should be something standard and easy to read.

Typically, the main body test is a serif font, which means that there are little marks, or "serifs," on the ends of letters; for instance, the tiny marks at the top and bottom of an "l." Some suggested serif fonts to use include Adobe Garamond Pro or Garamond, Adobe Caslon Pro or Caslon, Adobe Jenson Pro, Minion Pro or Times New Roman. Sans-serif fonts are not typically used for the main body of the book, but there is no "rule" against it. If you prefer a sans serif font, some possibilities are Century Gothic, Arial or Helvetica.

Line spacing plays a big role in readability and most books are easiest to read with 1.5 lines. This allows enough room for readers' eye to easily find the next line without effort. However, some authors prefer more or less space between lines. There are a lot of formatting tricks and standards that are so common, many people do not even notice they are there. For instance, it is common to see headers at the top of every page that list the author name and book title (name on one page, title on the other). Page numbers are usually also listed on each page, except for certain special pages, like the title page, dedication page or any blank pages. You might find it handy to spend some time looking through books you have at home or browsing through books at a store. Keep in mind the type and style of book and the various aspects of the page layout and take notes of your preferences.

If you are including images in your book, consider the quality of the images. A low quality, low resolution, pixilated image will bring down the professional appearance of the book, no matter how well the text is written. Only use high resolution images, 300 dpi or higher.

Back to top

Should I include my cover in my manuscript?

No. The cover will be designed separately from the body of the manuscript during a different stage in the production process.

Back to top

How should I set up my title page within the manuscript?

The title page, which typically includes your book's title, subtitle (if it has one), author/pen name, can be located in two different positions depending on your personal tastes: The very first page when you open the cover of your book, or the third page in your book (which is the second right-facing page).

Back to top

What kinds of pages and information are typically included in a book?

When you begin formatting your manuscript, there are a few basics all books should have, plus there might be items you wish to include in your book that you previously had not considered when writing the work.

First, every book should have a title page, listing the title of your book and author name. Second, every book must have a copyright page.

Next, there are a few optional items to consider. The first optional page is a dedication page, which many writers choose to include. This is usually a simple sentence on a page by itself, such as "For my wife," or "This book is dedicated to my mother, who always believed in me." The dedication is different from an acknowledgements page, the second option, which is usually longer and lists people who you would like to thank for their input, support, or assistance while writing your book. Decide for yourself if you wish to include one or both of these pages.

A table of contents is another optional feature, which lists the chapter names and/or page numbers on which the chapter can be found. It is common in non-fiction books, but is often left out of fiction novels or shorter works because it may not be necessary.

Lastly, many authors choose to include an "about the author" page. If you wish to include one, a great place for it is after the main body of text in your manuscript, or one of the last pages in the book. Some authors also include a photograph of themselves along with the text.


Back to top

What is the proper order for the beginning of my book, or front matter?

The beginning of your book, or "front matter," consists of the pages of information typically found before the main body text begins. You can decide what is necessary or unnecessary to include in your book; most books do not have all of the following front matter. Here is the general order of front matter according to the Chicago Manual of Style: 1) Half title page (just the title), 2) Series title, list of contributors, frontispiece or blank page, 3) Title page, 4) Copyright page, 5) Dedication page or epigraph, 6) Table of Contents, 7) List of Illustrations, 8) List of Tables, 9) Foreword, 10) Preface, 11) Acknowledgements (if not part of the preface), 12) Introduction (if not part of the text), 13) List of abbreviations or chronology.

Back to top

What is the proper order for the end of my book, or back matter?

"Back matter" consists of the pages and materials that generally fall after the main body of the text. You can decide what is necessary or unnecessary to include in your book. Here is the general order of back matter according to the Chicago Manual of Style: 1) Appendix, 2) Notes, 3) Glossary, 4) Bibliography, 5) List of Contributors, 6) Index, 7) Author biography and/or photo.

Back to top

Do I need a table of contents?

A table of contents is the listing of chapters and/or sections and the pages they begin on typically found in the front of the book. Table of contents are useful and commonly found in non-fiction books, reference books or any other lengthy book.

Accordingly, it is unnecessary for novels to have a table of contents, because the reader will not be skipping around through the chapters, or referencing back later – they will just read the book from beginning to end with a bookmark holding their place. Be cautioned that if a novel lists named chapter titles, the plot could be revealed. Therefore, if you do have a novel and want a table of contents, you may want to consider listing the chapter titles only as "chapter 1, chapter 2 …" if you have named titles.

Back to top

Where should credits and information regarding such items as permissions, editor names, illustrators, etc., be located in the book?

Where the credit is located depends on your preference, the service provider's demands and your relationship with the service provider. The most common place to find credit information is on the lower section of the copyright page, below the publisher information. However, many people wish to give more visible credit, especially if they have a closer relationship with the service provider, such as a friend or relative, or if the individual is famous or well known.

Another factor is the degree of visibility the provider's work is in the book. For example, in a book with illustrations throughout the book on nearly every page, the illustrator credit should probably be more visible, like on the title page or cover, while if there are only four illustrations in a 200 page book, a less-visible credit on the copyright page should be adequate.

For a cover design, you could put the credit on the font cover, back cover or copyright page. Illustrations inside the book only are typically posted on the title page or copyright page. Editor credit can be given on the front cover, title page or copyright page. Credits for photos throughout the book usually depend on the copyright holder (the person who provided permission for the photos), but credit is usually given directly under the photo in a small caption, and/or on the copyright page. Authors who had a lot of people contribute to the book and have a long list of credits can make a specific page just for credits, usually found in the front of the book (see FAQ about front matter sequence).

Back to top

ISBN

What is an ISBN?

"ISBN" stands for "International Standard Book Number." It is a unique, 13-digit number assigned to each book published internationally. (ISBNs before January 1, 2007 were 10-digit numbers, but switched to 13-digit numbers to allow more new ISBNs). The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify a title or edition of that title from a specific publisher. This allows for a more efficient mode of marketing and purchasing for retailers, libraries, universities, distributors and individual consumers.

Note: Receiving just your ISBN does not guarantee title listings. To ensure your titles get in the Books in Print database you must submit your title information to www.bowkerlink.com

Do the numbers in an ISBN have any meaning?

Yes, the numbers are specific to and identify four things: 1) Group identifier code, which groups nations and countries geographically that often share the same language, 2) Specific publisher identifier, 3) Title or specific edition of the title identifier, and 4) Check number, which proves that the ISBN is authentic.

Back to top

Can I use an ISBN that I previously purchased for my manuscript?

No. The ISBN is specific to the publisher. If you have an ISBN for your manuscript, it is still valid for the manuscript in an unpublished form; however, once the book is published through Trafford, it will need a new ISBN.

How can I obtain the ISBN for my Trafford published book?

An ISBN is included with each Trafford publishing package. The ISBN will be inserted on the copyright page and on the back cover of the book with the bar code. The bar code is a digital image sellers can scan to identify the ISBN. Visit www.isbn.org for more detailed information about ISBNs.

Back to top

More Detailed Book Formatting Information:

Should I use footnotes or endnotes?

We suggest using endnotes if you are setting up the formatting yourself, because they are much simpler to set up and keep consistent. Endnotes are placed at the end of chapters or at the end of the book. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page of the reference and can cause a lot of hassle later on after your manuscript is uploaded and transferred into the book size template.

Although footnotes might appear correct in your version of the manuscript, they will shift after your manuscript is put into our template because the margins will change. The result is a reference number in the text may move and no longer be associated with the proper footnote at the bottom of the page.

There is nothing wrong with using footnotes, but be aware of the extra work involved. If you choose to use footnotes at the bottom of a page, you will need to review the referenced notes. During the publishing process, it's best to check the footnotes after the manuscript is uploaded and transferred into the new book size, or after substantial changes to the text. This helps make sure the footnote has stayed on the same page as the reference number. This process usually requires that you review every footnote on every page. If you only have a few footnotes, it will not be a large task, but if you have many, you may want to consider endnotes instead.

Back to top

What fonts can I use in the book?

We have access to a wide variety of fonts. For a complete list, please call us at 1.888.232.4444. When reviewing the font list, please note that not all fonts are available in bold, italic and bold italic.

Can I publish my book in a language other than English?

Yes, you can publish your book in any language as long as there's a font to support it.

Back to top

What is the average font size for the main body of text?

The average font size for the main body of text is 11- or 12-point font. It depends on the particular font and your preference whether 11 or 12 would be more appropriate. Keep in mind that various fonts can look very different at the same point size depending on the style. We generally advise against printing as small as a 10-point font for the main body, but it could be acceptable for some books.

Back to top

What is an index?

An index is most commonly found in reference books or a detailed non-fiction book that would benefit from a detailed list of topics and subjects. An index is not the same as a table of contents, which lists only chapter and section starts. An index is found in the back of the book and can include any word, topic or term that you wish along with the page number on which it is found.

Do I need an index in the back of the book?

If your book is a complex reference, historical or educational book then an index might be beneficial. A standard novel or memoir does not typically need an index. When considering an index, be aware that they can be very time consuming and difficult to construct and update. If something changes in the manuscript, the index must be updated each time to ensure the page numbers are still correct. If indexes are set up correctly, this updating process is simple and automatic. However, creating a "manual" index, or physically typing out the index, means it cannot be updated automatically. This process is not recommended.

Back to top

Can Trafford create an index for my book?

Yes, we can create a custom index for your book for an additional fee.

Back to top


Back to main FAQs directory

Click for your Publishing Guide About Trafford Gold Seal Monthly Exclusive Trafford Featured Book Inside a Trafford Book


Prepare for Publication

Call a publishing consultant today at 1.888.232.4444 or e-mail sales@trafford.com. Your publishing consultant will assist you along the publishing process, make sure you read the terms and conditions, and take your payment. (We accept credit card, check, or money order). After the submission of your materials, you’ll be on your way to having your book published. Are you looking to sign up for additional marketing services? Call your Marketing Consultant today at 1.888.232.4444 to get a free consultation on the services that would work best for your marketing campaign. You may also send an e-mail to sales@trafford.com.