My manuscript is “ready” to make that big leap and become a published book. That alone is a big step, because the self-talk will run through your head… “Are you really ready to hit that button?” It’s so final. But I’ve reached that point when I’m trying to finish all the edits, make sure I’ve found and fixed as many typos as I possibly can, and when I can incorporate all the comments made by those who have read my manuscript and offered me their advice as a reader. The last big hurdle of course is to get that finished book ready to publish, and this can be a trying time for even the most persistent and patient author-publisher—the Book Design.

First of all, I’m using MS Word. I know… there are other programs like InDesign out there, but I don’t have that program, and that makes using it that much harder. Anyway. I’m going to skip most of the arrangement philosophy, because I feel like for most rules out there, you’ll find a published book that breaks those rules. I’ll show you what I did, and I’ll tell you how I got there. For my first example of this, look at the image below. Looks can be deceiving, and I want you to note that the page on the left is an odd-numbered page and is actually going to appear on the right side of my published book. I’ll have to constantly remind myself of this as I format my book. My pages will display on the screen as one of top of the other. I could set my view to a side-by-side presentation, but I actually find this distracting.

HINT: To help remember what’s what, both “EVEN” and “LEFT” have four letters. That’s ODD, RIGHT?

So all of that said, note also page 15 below—odd numbered page which will be a right page—has the book title in the header and a page number in the footer. My chapter page, as it stands, will be an even page and will be on the left side of the book. But I want my chapters to all start on odd pages (right side). Just insert a blank page after 15, right? Not so fast!

LINK: The page at the following link from has a lot of good information about Chapter Opener conventions, and includes some really good examples that you can use for inspiration: Book Design: Chapter Openers and Part Openers – The Book Designer

If I insert a blank page, that blank page will still have a header with the author’s name and a footer with the page number. Based on my research (and by looking in published books of the same genre), this is not customary. I want that page to be truly blank. But if I “unlink” the header and footer from the previous page, it also unlinks all the subsequent pages, and all of those headers and footers then become blank as well. I do want blank headers and footers for the chapter opener pages, but I also want the body pages to have the book title, author’s name, and page numbers. Hopefully, you understand my goal. In case my description is still murky, have a look at this image:

This is what I want. My previous chapter ends on an odd page. A completely blank even page separates that chapter from the next chapter, which will start on an odd page, and will have no header or page number. Then subsequent pages of the next chapter have a header and page number just like they’re supposed to.

So how do you stop and start these headers and footers? Section Breaks. Basically, you’re going to chop your manuscript into dozens of sections—still connected, but not linked. In the above example, there’s a section break between the first and second pages, another section break between the second and third pages, and I’ve set both sections to use a different first page. As I type this, I am realizing how complicated this must sound, but you have to understand this overall goal and concept, and that will make setting this up seem a lot more straightforward. I hope. Buckle up, because this is a lot of tedious work!

Set up your headers and footers

The easiest way to get to the header and footer menu is to double-click in the very top or bottom of your document, and you will get the Header and Footer menu. Click “Different First Page” and “Different Odd & Even Pages.” You will be taken to the header area, and you should see a small label that says, “Odd Page Header.” Guess what’s on the next page—HINT: It’s “Even Page Header.” If you’re like me, you can type the Book Title in the Odd Page Header and your name (The author) in the Even Page Header. Center them on the line, and you’re done with the header for now.

Insert a page number

In that same Header and Footer menu on the toolbar, click on “Page Number” and “Bottom of the Page,” pick a format/style you like, and click. A page number will be inserted into your footer. If you did this from an Odd page, do the same thing on the Even page footer. The numbers will all be sequential. It’s just like magic, isn’t it?

Section Breaks

Section Breaks allow you to split the document into several parts, and that is what you want to do, because that allows you to modify headers and footers independent of the rest of the document.

The “Breaks” menu under the Layout tab.

As a starting point, let’s go back to that first example where my chapter ended on an odd page. I want a completely blank even page to come next, and I want the next chapter to start on an odd page. Let’s insert that blank even page now.

Our objective: Insert two section breaks—One for the blank page and another one for the start of the next chapter.

I choose to do this by starting on the chapter opener page of the next chapter. Place your cursor in the text on that chapter heading. Next, click on the “Layout” tab and select “Breaks.” Here you will be presented with several options. First thing is that page breaks are just that. If you want the text to break at a specific point and to create a new page, then page breaks is what you’re looking for. This is the equivalent of CNTRL-Enter. But you knew that already. This is not what you need here. You do want Section Breaks.

Section Breaks allow you to split the document into several parts, and that is what you want to do, because that allows you to modify headers and footers independent of the rest of the document.

Okay, back to our mission. Place the cursor on your chapter heading, and then click on the “Layout” tab and select “Breaks.” Now, click on “Next Page.” This will make your chapter page the start of a new section. Before we move on, do those same steps again. If you clicked on “Different First Page” when we were in the Header and Footer tab, then you should see that you have a completely blank page before your chapter heading, and your chapter heading page should have no header or footer. This is exactly what I wanted, so if this is exactly what you want too, then you are done with this part.

The only thing left is to do this for every chapter in your book, either using the blank page or not, depending on where your previous chapter ends.

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