Things to know when formatting a book interior for CreateSpace printing

I came across some intriguing information when I was working on making a print version for CreateSpace of our latest book. Considering I had to go searching all over to find some of these formatting instructions, I thought it might be nice to have the information all in one place for my own future reference, and anyone else having some of these problems. I am currently using MS Word 365, so instructions I write will be with this version of MS Word in mind.

Without further ado, here we go!

Headers and Drop Cap Formatting

Getting your headers to behave correctly can be interesting. I found this article How to format a book in Microsoft Word by DIY Book Formats, while I was searching for a good way to make the headers work correctly. While some of the information in the article was familiar to me, other parts were less familiar. Regardless, I found the description of setting up of the section breaks extremely helpful. It shows you how to set up the format of a different first page header for your chapters, and then different odd and even page headers. It also shows you how to use a drop cap for the first letter of the first paragraph of a chapter. Overall, the article was extremely useful in setting up your interior document formatting. Fantastic step-by-step instruction with visual screenshots. I would highly recommend it, if you’re having trouble with setting up your headers and the drop cap.

Embedding Fonts

In case you’re having trouble embedding fonts in your MS Word 365 document. Here’s how you fix that:

  1. Go to File
  2. Go to Options
  3. Go to Save
  4. Check “Embed fonts in the file”

Next up for things that caused me to have issues, I ran into the trouble of embedding fonts in a PDF when saving from MS Word 365. Here’s the resource I found for that: Creating a PDF with Embedded Fonts for MS Word. There are some nice detailed pictures to help guide you in the article if you need them, but the basics of what you do is:

  1. Go to the “Save as” option
  2. Select Save as pdf
  3. Under the options check “ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A)”
  4. Save

Violà your fonts are now embedded in your pdf.

But wait! When you follow the instructions for embedding the fonts in a pdf, there is a problem with the transparency of images in a MS Word document. Images, with a transparency, have that transparency show up as black. I found out the reason on the Microsoft community forum which you can read here. The whole issue boils down to the fact that the PDF/A-1 standard forbids transparencies.

So what did I do about this? Well, in this instance I decided the heck with it, and just saved the image in question as a jpg instead of a png. This only worked because I was planning on using white pages. If I ever want to print using crème pages, I will have to find a new solution to this.

Image Resolution

I also had a fun time with my image resolution in the MS Word document. I’m going to assume that most people know you need your images to be of good resolution to print without the image quality degrading. Since I knew that my images were 300 dpi, there shouldn’t have been an issue. Yet, there was. I went searching though the Internet, and came up with this discussion in the CreateSpace community board. There is actually a great discussion about dpi and images in the conversation that might be helpful if you’re having trouble understanding things, but the instructions were written with an earlier MS Word in mind.

Basically, Word takes your images and makes them smaller as a default. In order to keep you images looking sharp in your MS Word  365 document you have to do this:

  1. Go to File
  2. Go to Options
  3. Go to Advanced
  4. Scroll to the “Image Size and Quality” section
  5. Check “Do not compress images in file”
  6. Select 330 ppi from the “Set default target output to:” drop down menu

Whew! So now all of my images should be hunky dory now right? Right!? Nope. Now the image is being compressed when I convert it to a PDF. At this point I gave up the ghost, and just uploaded the MS Word 365 document to CreateSpace. I did come across a resource Word to PDF Image Improvement that might help fix this issue, but again it was for an earlier version of Word. The .docx worked just fine, so I called it quits while I was ahead. Still, there might be some helpful information in there for people that want the PDF version, so I included it.

In conclusion

This is all the fun information I found this time for formatting a MS Word 365 document for print. If you couldn’t tell, there was a lot of eyebrow twitching and hair pulling involved in discovering all of this. I still have my hair though, and my eyebrow didn’t twitch right off. Therefore, I shall call this a success… at least until the book proof arrives.


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