How to format a Book Interior PDF for Self-Publishing



Here is the thing, CreateSpace will not tell you on what program you should write your book, nor they have tools to format it on-line. All they require from you is a PDF that matches the trim size you want your book to be printed on. 

Yes, they do accept Word documents. However, unless you want to bang your head against your monitor for weeks wondering why your manuscript is all messed up when uploaded, what you'll want to hand them is your manuscript in PDF form. 


no worries, you can still use Microsoft word

If you don't want to spend money on expensive software, like Adobe InDesign, to format your manuscript from the ground up, then the simplest option you're left with is Microsoft Word. Your computer probably already has it installed and even if that's not the case, you can download it from Microsoft at a pretty affordable price. All you will need to do, is to save your Word document as a PDF and hand CreateSpace that PDF. Keep reading and we'll tell you how to do it step-by-step.


The only Three things you need to know to format your book

Assuming that you've already typed your manuscript in some sort of text editor and that now you'll be formatting in using Microsoft Word, here are the three key elements you need to have in mind:


#1 Trim Size

You've got to pick a size for your book, before you even start typing it or coping & pasting your text in Word. Why? All Word documents are sized by default in a US Letter paper size, that is: 8.5" x 11". If you plan your book to be a 6" x 9", but you start typing it on a 8.5" x 11" sized document, you're going to have a bad time!

Luckily, CreateSpace has some pre-formatted templates already sized to a given trim size, which you can download here

Now, don't rely heavily on those templates, as they are just that: templates. And their pre-formatted content can and will be altered by you. Furthermore, their pre-programmed settings and can be also modified by the content you paste from another Word document even without you realizing it. 

Making sure your Word document size matches that of your trime size is key for your book content to be printed correctly. Learn how to change your manuscript's page size using Microsoft Word:


#2 Margins

When it comes to margins, CreateSpace basically only understands four types of margins: Top, Bottom, Inside and Outside. Notice that I didn't mentioned gutter and that's because they use gutter and Inside margins interchangeably. To them, they're basically the same thing. Unlike CreateSpace, the Word settings do allow for gutter. So, whenever you see a field for gutter on Word, just make sure to leave it in 0".


Outside margins

To keep things simple, all you need to know is that they require the Top, Bottom and Outside margins to be at least 0.25". That means your text should be at least that far from the edge of the book, it can be further apart. They actually recommend 0.5"


Inside margins

Now, the Inside margins depend only on the page count. As the more pages your book has the wider the inner margin will need to be so the text doesn't run into the gutter. Here's a chart with the correct inside margin measurements given the page count:

Learn how to change your manuscript's margins using Microsoft Word:


#3 Bleed

CreateSpace basically only distinguishes between two categories of books: 

  • Book interiors without full-page images

These are books that just have flowing text and/or images that remain within that text. For this kind of books, their margins are just as explained above. 

  • Book interiors with full-page images

There are books that have background images that extend to end of the page in all directions, like children books or photo albums. 


For books with full-page images you'll have to add an extra 0.125" to the trim size you picked. Not the margins, the actual trim size of the book. 

For example, if your book size is a 6" x 9" and contains full-page images, then the size of each page will now be: 6.125" wide by 9.25" tall.

Why like this? They're basically adding bleed to the top, bottom and outside of each page; but not the gutter. The gutter does not require bleed. 

Those are only the new dimensions of your, we haven't talked about margins in this case yet. 

However, notice that since the size of your book increased by 0.125" in all sides but the gutter; the new minimum Top, Bottom and Outside margins will now be 0.25" and the Inside margin remain just as above. 


Finally, saving your Word doc as a PDF

Congratulations! Now that you did all the hard work, all you need to do is to convert your Word document as a PDF by following these simple steps:



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