Get Set

Ok so let’s get some style. If your novel is formatted in a pretty standard manner, the styles I’m going to outline shortly should be all you need to create. However, if you do need to create a few extra styles, do so. Just remember to add them to the export plugin when we write that in a minute. These styles serve a dual purpose. They are most obviously how we lay out the book so we can print it using services such as CreateSpace but they are also what formats our book so it can be exported to ebook formats to be read on things like the kindle.

My suggestions of reasonable defaults for these styles are based on creating a printed book that uses the 5.25″ x 8″ form factor (CreateSpace is American so it is simpler if we deal in backwards imperial measurements). Change them to suit your own needs and aesthetic tastes. There are no set rules, but remember that less is more, and be careful not to make your book hard to read, after all no one is going to recommend your book because it uses a pretty font. They will criticise it if that font is unreadable or just plain annoying (Comic Sans, I’m looking at you).

I’m also assuming here that you want your novel laid out in a fairly standard fashion e.g. the first page has on it the novel’s title and the author’s name, the second page has on it the copyright info, novel parts start on left hand pages, chapters start on right hand pages, the first paragraph in every section starts flush to the margin, all other paragraphs have their first line indented, all dialogue is indented, page numbers are on the footer, the author’s name is on the right page header, book title is on the left, a short bio is on the last left page etc. Again, it’s your book. You’re free to monkey about with the layout as much as you like, but you might find easier if you work through the tutorial with this layout to begin with, and then make the changes you require once you understand what everything does.

Right, hopefully you got from the previous chapter that everything in your book needs to have a style assigned to it. If it doesn’t, it won’t be exported. It is important that you understand that this includes white space. It is quite common, when you are writing, to add white space by hitting the enter key a few times. At best, this padding will be ignored when the file is exported. At worst, it may confuse the export and make your document unreadable. If you want to add some white space, you must do it by defining some padding in the style that you are using. Tabs are included in this. If you are indenting something (such as the beginning of paragraph), don’t use a tab stop to do it. Instead, use a style that has its first paragraph set to be indented.

Now, before we start creating these styles, I strongly recommend starting a new document in LibreOffice (we will paste in the text of your novel later). While it is theoretically possible to add the styles to a pre-existing document, you often encounter strange formatting errors that can easily baffle you if it is your first attempt. So click ‘New’, and let’s begin.

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