Formatting for CreateSpace: A Writer’s Drinking Game


Recently, I decided to teach myself how to format a book for paperback printing on CreateSpace. I also bought a case of wine, so how convenient is that? The problem with formatting is it isn’t fun. Like, not at all. Zero pleasure in this process. Every time I try it, things usually end like this,




gollum funny.gif

However, with a bit of booze, we can turn formatting your manuscript into an adventure. Ready? Let’s go then.

You should have a cocktail or a beer or whatever type of drink you enjoy, as well as some hard stuff for the shots. Oh, there will be shots. Pour your drink. Get a shot ready. We’re good to go.


So, step one is to watch a how-to video. This one is pretty good, but you’ll have to skip to about 9:25 in the video. The first part is just the too-quiet voice telling you why paperbacks are awesome and that you should have a CreateSpace account first. If you don’t, well, you’re going to need more help than I can give and you have to take a shot, because you’re clearly a moron.

Chase it with your drink. Good girl.

Anyway, so at about 9:25, they tell you about some nifty templates CreateSpace has. You can find them here. Pick the size that’s right for your book and continue on. I like 5.25 x 8, but if you want to go bigger, it’s your party, man. Go for it.

Drink because this is a big decision. How big should your book be? Have you decided? Have a drink in celebration of making a decision. Adulting is hard.

Now, you’ll notice there are basic templates (right side) and formatted templates (left side).

templates screen grab

Both have advantages.

You should have a drink before we carry on. Don’t want to get dehydrated.

Moving on to the information I’m supposed to be giving here. The formatted template is probably best, but requires a lot of tedious shit. I need a drink just thinking about it.


The formatted templates give you a pre-made layout for your book’s interior. See?

formatted template.jpg


You just copy and paste the content chapter by chapter, oh and don’t forget the front and back matter. WAIT! Don’t paste your whole manuscript in at once, you lunatic. That’ll be a shit show.

Chapter. By. Chapter.

Did you just paste the whole thing in? Shot for you, silly boy. If you did it properly, you deserve a drink too. Go on.

Now, you’ll notice the body of the template only has 10 chapters formatted, because apparently whoever made this thing is ridiculous. So, to add more formatted chapters, go to the “Page Layout” tab of your toolbar. Select “Breaks” and insert a “next page” section break at the end of the last chapter.

Like this:

next page break.jpg

Highlight the previous chapter (In the template, not the manuscript. We’re not there yet. Dummy.) and then copy and paste the text onto the new page. Rinse and repeat until you have all the chapters you need.

You’ll also notice the header is blank or wrong or whatever. God, I need a drink.

armitage drinking.gif

Fuck, I love that man. Where were we? Oh yeah.

To change the header text, go to the insert tab. Select “header” and then click “edit header.” Easier way: Double click the header at the top of the page. Opens it right up. Anyway, type what you want in there, and you’re good. Click escape to stop editing and save what you’ve done so far.

Should look like this:

changing headers.jpg

Oh, before you escape out of there, if you want page numbers, now’s the time to add them. Header, Insert, page number. Like this:

2016-05-03 (4)page numbers.jpg

But you don’t want the page numbers to be linked to the front matter. Oy. I know, right? Let me open a new bottle.

captain jack.gif

To prevent the numbers from starting with the front matter, go to the start of chapter one and then click “Design”. When in there, you’ll see “Link to previous.” Click this. The program will ask if you want to delete the link to previous page, and you’ll say, “Yes.”

Like this:

unlinking front matter.jpg

You’re almost done. Let’s take a step back, for those of you who decided to use a basic template. Much of the previous is the same, except the basic templates are essentially blank, except for a bit of text across the top. Like this:

basic template.PNG

Delete this text and copy and paste your book in there. You don’t have to go chapter by chapter with this template, but it can be a bitch to get everything just so in the end.

No. Wait. I forgot a few steps. Shot for me. Is anyone else seeing double? Good times.

When you have the basic template open… no that’s not right. First, go into your word document. The one with the manuscript, not the template. Jeeze. Drink? Sure.

Okay, make sure the whole document is single spaced, otherwise, when you’re done formatting, it’ll look weird and it’ll be a bazillion pages long.


Double spaced is wrong image.jpg

Weird. This is much better:

single spaced is right.jpg

All right, so paste that bitch in. Did I say single spaced? I meant 1.5 spacing. Fuck it. Get a new bottle. Yeah, this one’s empty. Pasting, pasting, pasting. Good stuff. Now, look at those chapter headings. Can anyone say yawn? So boring. You can modify the chapter headings really easily. Just go into styles, click heading 1 or 2 or whatever you like, and boom. Nice, nifty chapter headings. Seriously, just look at the before and after.

boring chapter heading.PNG


That one was boring. Yawn. Now, the more interesting heading:

More interesting chapter heading.jpg

It’s all bold and shit. Awesome. Now, after doing this, center the chapter heading. If I have to tell you how to center text, then you should probably just quit writing. Drink? Sure. Once you’ve done the centering, do the same thing for every chapter heading in the book. No, there is no quick way. Well, maybe there is. I don’t know it, so you’re stuck doing it my way. I think it’s in that video I shared earlier. I’ll just finish this bottle while you look.

So, the book is all in there. Whether you used the formatted or basic template, you’re done, almost. Look how nifty it is. Good job. You’re a superstar.

You now have to make sure every new chapter begins on an odd numbered page or it’ll be weird. When people finish a chapter, they expect the next to be on an odd page. I don’t make the rules man. One way to do this is to use the “find” feature an search “chapter.” If you find one that starts on an even page, insert a blank page before it. Continue through the document, check two or three times, to make sure every new chapter starts on an odd numbered page.

Now, save it.


Another drink. When did this chair get so slippery? Weee!

dean drunk dancing.gif

Oh, that’s going to hurt in the morning.

Oh, wait. I’ve given you the hard way to do that chapter thing. The tutor should not be participating in the drinking game.

Forget that last paragraph Forget everything after the last image I shared, but before this sentence.


Calm down. Have a drink. Let’s continue.

The easy way to format your chapter breaks is, while in the template (formatted document), go to the end of the chapter. Got it? Good. Now, go to “Page Setup” which is usually under “Layout” if it’s not all by itself up there on your toolbar. Now, see “Page Breaks” up there? Click on that and you’ll get a drop-down menu, where you’ll find “section break” and “odd pages.”

Oh, you’ve drank that whole bottle. Is that all you brought? Poor thing. No sharesies!

Anyway, to summarize: click, Layout, then go to “Section Break” and then click “Odd pages.” Like this:

chapter breaks.jpg

There. Done. Make sure each chapter ends with a section break and not a page break. And for the love of Christ, don’t just hit enter until the chapter starts on the right page unless you want to ruin the whole thing.

Now, we’re don’t the formatting. Everything looks wonderful. Good job. However, CreateSpace likes a PDF. If you’re lucky, your Word program or whatever you use to write with, has a handy PDF maker thing. Mine is here:


Convert the file to PDF, but save the original Word file too, just in case you have to make tweaks later. Oh, don’t look at me like that. There are always changes.

Anyway, upload the PDF to CreateSpace in the “new book” thingy. Wait for them to prompt you to launch the “Interior Reviewer” or whatever they call it and check for problems. Didn’t work. That sucks. Here. More booze. Now we don’t care. *smiley face*

Did I get my manuscript formatted? Sort of. It’s… a work in progress. If you’d rather do it all yourself without a template (masochistic bitch), this link takes you to a very informative how-to article from CreateSpace. Good luck.

twitter 2

Trust me, you’re gonna need more booze. And if you learned nothing today, well that was my plan all along. You’re drunk and that’s all that matters. Here’s a picture of the Winchesters.

naked winchesters

*Post-Publishing Edit*

This post is intended to be funny. If you learn anything, I’d question it, because it was not my intention. 😉  Read with your tongue firmly in your cheek, okay? 

6 thoughts on “Formatting for CreateSpace: A Writer’s Drinking Game

  1. Hi,
    A few points to consider. Industry standards say:
    *Page numbers should count (buy not be seen) from the title page.
    *Unless you’re making a hardcover book, you should have your chapters start on section break next page. Leaving blank pages is considered amateurish now.

    A great way to make your book look unique is to use a different font, serif only for the actual novel. Google fonts has a ton of free and awesome fonts.

    Also a good layout artist can get it done with less headache. But they’ll cost 150+ depending on the book.

    Good luck,

    1. Thanks for the tips. This was meant to be funny and a little tongue-in-cheek, though. I’d be surprised if anyone learned anything. 😉

  2. Haha. Well, I did use what I know, but meant to be funny, because I can’t seem to format shit, even though I know these things. Thanks for the advice, though. I’m adding it to the pile so I can try to figure it out eventually. 🙂

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