How to Format Your Word Document for Book Printing (on Mac or PC)

If you’re a writer, you’re probably no stranger to Microsoft Word. But when it comes to self-publishing, you may not know how to format your Word document for book printing.

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We’ll walk you through the steps to format your Word document for printing a book that is a 5.8” x 8.3” finished size on a Mac, or a 5.5” x 8.5” finished size on a PC.

Editor’s note: This tutorial uses settings and options from the latest version of Microsoft Word, for Mac or a PC. If you’re operating on an older version, some of the prompts may be slightly different from what you see below.

Getting Your Document Started

When you originally typed your manuscript, you more than likely opened a blank Word document and went full steam ahead.

Whether this is the case or you have yet to get started, you’ll need to open a brand-new Word document that you can copy and paste your text into for the best formatting results.

1. Create a New Document, and Click ‘Layout’



2. Click on ‘Size’ and choose 5.83 x 8.26 inches for Macs. For a PC, you can set a custom size. 5.5 x 8.5 is a common book printing choice that is easy to work with.



3. Next, click the ‘Margins’ tab, click ‘Custom Margins’ at the bottom of the options, and change Top, Bottom, Left and Right margins to 0.75”.



It is important to note that there’s flexibility in these values. If you want larger or smaller margins on the left and right, that’s okay. We recommend never making the left or right margins smaller than a half-inch, as text can get lost in the spine of the book after it’s bound.

Additionally, depending on what you have in your headers and footers, you may want to make your top and bottom margins larger or smaller.

If you’re going to have the title of your book in the header, your margin size defines how much room you have for the title. The same rule applies for your page numbers if they’re in the footer.

Headers and Footers

As previously mentioned, the margin sizes you assign to the top and bottom of your document defines the amount of space you will have to place running title headers or page numbers.

Here’s how to properly format your headers and footers on a Microsoft document before printing, for both a Mac and PC:

1. Under the ‘Insert’ tab, select the ‘Header’ menu and click on ‘Edit Header.’

2. Enter the title of your book or whatever text you would like to appear at the top of your pages.

3. From this same screen, you can also edit your footer, where you’ll probably place your page numbers.

There is no exact way to modify your headers and footers, it’s your choice to design them as you see fit for your book.

Create and Print

Your document is now prepared to either paste text from an existing Word document, or you can begin typing your manuscript.

If you have problems or questions throughout the formatting or uploading process, let us know. Feel free to call us anytime and ask to speak with one of our designers, or email us at help you work through any issues you may run across during your manuscript design process.

When your book is ready to print, you can upload your file and receive a free quote based on your book’s size, amount of copies you’d like to print, and paper and binding options.

After you’ve taken care of the Word doc, you need to figure out which binding to use for your self-published book >

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Leave a comment

Rebecca Major
12 months ago

Can I upload a file from Google Docs to have printed in a perfect binding book format? I already have the page size formatted to the 5.5 by 8.5. it is mostly text with approximately a dozen images. Currently 154 pages

Chrysler Fisher
11 months ago

I have an appendix of photos and I want all but 3 printed in B&W and the 3 in color. How do I make all the photos in B&W when some when some are now in color or greytone or looking B&W when they are actually a composite of color to result in a B&W looking photo?

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you indicated: 1. Under the ‘Insert’ tab, select the ‘Header’ menu and click on ‘Edit Header.’ There is no header under insert tab.

Lloyd Cunningham
about 1 month ago

I just received a 6x9 trim (w/out bleed) book proof from Amazon and find the type too deep into the seam. I’d like to move it about 3/16th inch to the outside of the pages, they are mirrored. I have the margins set: top .76; bottom .76; inside .76; outside .6; gutter .14. What should I change, and to what value, to move the type about that 3/16 away from the seam?

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