Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.

Formatting for CreateSpace


Book number six on CreateSpace and I think I’ve finally figured it out! All the text fitted in first time and was accepted immediately–then I read the proofs and found a couple of typos but that was easily fixed. Feeling pretty good about all that I decided I’d get that first page number business right. I’d never been able to work out how to start the page numbers on the page I want them, which in this case is page 5, after the Contents page etc.

I confess I’m not good at reading instructions–never have been and probably never will be. My eyes sort of glaze over and my brain goes to a happier place when faced with technical details.  I used to sew a bit, for myself and my kids when they were little. I managed, usually, just by cutting out the shapes according to the paper patterns and sewing them together in a logical manner. If I started to read the actual instructions I’d give up. Too hard. I’m one of those people who have to learn using the hands on method, I think.

My CreateSpace experience, therefore, has been very . . . um . . . let’s just say it’s probably taken me longer to figure it out than if I’d read the instructions properly the first time. A lot of trial and error later, here I am at my first properly formatted book. I’m still not sure about the font though, or more so, the size of the font. What do you use? I’ve used Bookman, which I like, but while size 12 looks good to me it’s hard to say until I have the actual book in my hands. The book, by the way, is an extended version of Connections, my short story collection. I’ve added several more stories to it and a new cover, which was fun and I’m happy with. The POD version is available now for $5.65 and the kindle should be up next week. It will be free for a few days and I’ll announce that here, so stay tuned. BookCoverImageconnections

If anyone has found this post via linkedin please reply here. For some reason my computer seems to have taken a sudden dislike to linkedin and won’t allow any emails through from them. Any suggestions would be welcome.



Author: cmsgardnerblog

I'm a writer of fiction and non-fiction, for teens and adults. I live in Central Victoria, Australia and my books are available at

26 thoughts on “Formatting for CreateSpace

  1. Oh my goodness. i busted out laughing when i read that you were not an instructions reader. Neither am I!
    That was the one complaint every elementary teacher had marked on my report card. “Does not read instructions.”
    I still can not make any sense out of instructions. They are like another language and I too just look at something and figure it out.
    I find it even funnier that you asked for suggestions on the linked in problem because for all intents and purposes those suggestions may be disguised as repugnant instructions. lol!

  2. Good point Gracie! I’m hoping someone will take pity on me and provide some step by step advice that’s easier to follow than whatever my computer would tell me . . . if I knew where to look.

  3. I’m useless with instructions too.

    Formatting is one of the steps of self publishing that I am dreading, but once I’ve done it a few times I think I’ll have the hang of it. It’s just getting the first couple out of the way.

  4. Good luck Peter–The best thing I learnt (eventually) is to change your page size to 9 x 6 (inches). Makes it much easier.

  5. I am just approaching formatting my first book onto CreateSpace so any tips that you have would be most gratefully received! It is interesting that you say about 9 x 6, as I was going to go with the standard 8 x 5 book. Where did you find the instructions that you (didn’t) follow! ha ha. Thank you 🙂

    • I’m sure 8 x 5 would be fine too Jade. Whatever they have listed. My problem was that I ignored all of that and just tried to upload my file as it was. The program at CreateSpace just kept telling me there were errors and I kept going back to my original doc and increasing the margins!!! Eventually it fitted and didn’t look too bad when I got the print copies (apart from one that had mysteriously changed to an 8pt font) but if I’d followed that part of the instructions–make your document one of the approved sizes–it would have been so much easier! Why can’t people write instructions in plain English?

      • Who knows? Don’t you just love the ones that only come with diagrams now?! Ha ha.

        Thanks for that feedback, I shall see how I get on when I get there! 🙂

  6. I didn’t have that much difficulty with the instructions for the inner content but the cover was a bear. Try the discussion boards and articles on createspace because they have screenshots and break it down to simplify. Here’s the link:

    If you already have a cover designed, make sure the photo is 300dp (?) resolution and w x h is appropriate or it will look blurry. A key thing here is that it won’t look blurry on the thumbnail but, when you receive the actual book, you’ll freak! In essence, anything you’ve created yourself through a program will be difficult to do because the pixels are reduced to 96dp and will not allow you to enhance above around 200 due to the programs crunching pixels upon you saving the cover. If a professional photo is used, you have to ensure through place of purchase they have not reduced below 300. I had zero issues with amazon and smashwords covers but the instructions for createspace covers are hideous. I’m a technical writer adept at writing instructions so (trust me) they are sparse so I went with the cover creator. 🙂 Hope this helps! ~BS Dolphin

  7. I just finished putting my file in on CS. Waiting for cover before I finish up. I used 5.5 x 8.5 for the size.

    I had a terrible time with the page numbers, too. It was because of Word, though. Once I got Word straightened out, it saved as a PDF file and went to CS with no problems.

    I used Times New Roman 12, but like you, I won’t know what it looks like till I see the actual print copy. Will get cover art tomorrow so hope to find out soon!

    • That page number thing seems to be hidden and I eventually went through Help to find out out how to do it. Took me a while because I just don’t get the lingo but I was very pleased with myself when I finally got it!

  8. Per your request, I found this post on LinkedIn. Good luck working out why LI doesn’t like to send you email; no idea why! And congrats on your CreateSpace success. My .02 on the font: If it’s a children’s book, then Bookman 12 point is a good choice (though Old Schoolbook 12 point would be my personal preference); but if it’s a “grown-up” book, then 12 points is a little large for Bookman; 11 points would be better.

    • I was wondering about that, Lynette. Thanks. I’ll have a look at the one I’ve just done in the 12 when I get the POD. It’s a small book of short stories. When I re-do my larger books I think I’ll do them in 11.

  9. I just did my second novel “My Enemy’s Enemy” on Create Space. It should be available next week. I am waiting to receive my proof copy in two or three days for a final review. The 2nd time around is much easier and the only “fault” Create Space found was the pixel number in my one graphic which I ignored.
    Getting to your coment about page numbering…I do my writting in WORD and it always gives me a fit when I try to number the body of the work differently than the first few pages. It frequently tries to make me start on page 2 or 4 or someother number. I found that putting 2 page breaks in, back to back makes word let me start with number one for the first page of the work’s body.
    I also use the 6X9 size. It is fairly standard for larger paperback books. I also use 12 point Times Roman as my type style. It is slightly larger than a lot of paperbacks but I prefer to make things easier to read rather than reducing the number of pages to reduce the cost.
    Hope this helped.

  10. Save yourself grief and never submit to CS in word. A word document will produce numerous errors when CS converts it to a PDF file. Do the conversion yourself through Word to PDF and all the CS errors go away.

    I learned this the hard way.

  11. You know what they say. If you have to read the instructions it’s too sodding complicated.

    • And what I want to know is why they have to make the instructions so sodding complicated in the first place! I think whoever writes them is trying to make us feel stupid. It’s a conspiracy!

      • I think instructions written for one group of English speakers are often completely incomprehensible to the others. I can never understand American instructions. I just think in completely the wrong way.

        French instructions, translated. That’s probably what I need!

  12. I hope you mean 6 x 9 (width x height) or you’ll have a wide but short book 😉

    If you don’t want to trudge through the pain of formatting, you can do what I’ve done and hire someone. The lady who does all the formatting for my books and my clients is very reasonably priced (usually under $200 for a whole book) and does excellent work, besides being a joy to work with.

    Formatting a book is a fussy detailed task. If you’re not good with fussy details, you’re not likely to be satisfied with the end result.

    The short version, though, is (assuming you’re familiar with MS Word) is to make it look *exactly* like a book you already like. Margins, font size, front matter (publisher’s page, table of contents, etc.) and headers and footers. Leave nothing out, because they won’t put anything in. Then create a PDF and upload it to CreateSpace.

    It’s tedious and fussy which is why I’ve offloaded it so I can spend time doing the parts I love.

  13. MT I suspect like doctors learn to write non-decipherable prescriptions, whoever writes instructions is taught to write in a language only they can understand.
    Seriously though, I do know some mortals can follow written instructions. I’m just not one of them.

  14. Some of the instructions for Create Space are not the most clear ever written. I wrote technical manuals for 45 years and began writing them when all of them were horrible and most were written for the military. We reached a point several years ago, when technical manuals written for the military became easier to use because some of us worked to make it happen. Today, everyone has cut back and the instructions most people see are again poorly organized/written. I hate to see that, but know it is a fact of life. The writers need to be people who are specialists in preparing instruction manuals, not the creaters of the system being documented.

  15. I’m actually happy to hear that someone else has difficulty with that starting-the-page-numbering-on-something-other-than-the-first-time. I thought I was the only one! Took me a long time to find a decent set of instructions (but you actually have to read them!):

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