How To Format Your Book In Scrivener For CreateSpace

How to Compile a kindle ebook in scrivenerEbooks are the future… but paperbacks are still half the market. I’ve found that at least half of my readers still want the book in paperback, it’s so much of a proportion that I’ve chosen to wait until the paperback is ready before I officially launch my new novel. CreateSpace is the obvious platform to use because of its connection with Amazon.

CreateSpace is a ‘print-on-demand’ service which enables you to hold your book on their system and when someone orders a copy, CreateSpace will print one off and distribute it. The print and distribution costs are covered per book and form the inflated overhead that you expect to pay with a paperback. So, what do you have to do in Scrivener to get your book in the right shape for CreateSpace?

It will certainly help if you have a collection of traditionally published paperbacks next to you when preparing the file. You can check how things should look and try to imitate them. I’m working off the assumption that my paperback should be looking exactly like any other paperback. Uniqueness is all very well and good, but readers have certain expectations. Ask yourself, ‘when have you ever noticed the front matter in a book?’ The answer is probably never and this is because you instinctively know where to begin reading. If something stands out then it makes people notice, and this is bad.

So, on to the formatting…

Start with the eBook version

I have already explained how to format your manuscript for an ebook (click here to read). Start with the ready-formatted ebook version when you move on to the paperback. However, make sure you save another version of the file and include ‘paperback’ at the end of the name.

PDF File

The format you need to produce is a .pdf file. This is straight-forward from Scrivener’s comprehensive list of output formats. The .pdf will allow you to review the book in Adobe Reader (or whatever) to make sure it looks right before you get anywhere near CreateSpace. There’s a lot of unavoidable trial-and-error in making sure the pdf looks right because of the nature of a paperback. It’s a one-off snapshot of your book so it has to look right. You’ll end up exporting quite a few pdf files from Scrivener, and this is ok.

Underlined Links

In an ebook it makes perfect sense to make any links to websites, or email addresses, live so that the reader can press the link and it performs an action. In a paperback this is obviously not the case however much you want to press the page.  So, you need to go through your manuscript and remove the link to all of your links so that they are not underlined. You don’t want that line appearing in your book.


Before you export the first .pdf file from Scrivener, you can save a lot of time by getting the margin measurements right at the beginning. This took me a long time to work out, using rulers and uploading pdf files into CreateSpace to check. The good news is that you can just take my word for it.

Before I tell you the measurements I need to mention the size of my book. I live in the UK and the accepted size of a paperback novel in the UK is 5.06″ x 7.81″. This is different in the US, I believe, so take this into consideration when looking at the next bit.

You need to click on to the Page Settings option of the Compile screen.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 10.23.06

As you can see on the left, I’ve changed the margin dimensions. These result in the type sitting nicely in the dimensioned page that I mentioned above.

If you have a different sized book then you will need to change these margin sizes for yourself.

Page Numbers

The grey section of the Page Settings view refers to page numbers. I’ve opted for numbers in the middle of the page on their own in a slightly smaller font. You can see this by the <$p> value in the screen print above, and the Times New Roman 11 footer size.

But also, you need to think about when your page numbers will begin. They don’t usually appear before the actual book starts.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 10.30.50

I’ve changed the value in the ‘Start regular footer on’ to Page 5 because this is my Chapter 1.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 10.33.01

The Facing Pages option also needs to be thought about. I’ve opted for ‘Use facing pages’ because actually the way a paperback is set up means that the margin on the side of the page, nearest the spine, is wider than that on the edge of the book. So, I wanted my type to be in the opposite position of the facing page. Just look at any book and you’ll know what I mean.

Export the pdf File

Once all of this is completed you can let it fly. Export a pdf file and look at it in a pdf reader. It will still look a mess but that’s what the next stage is for. I did say it was going to involve some trial-and-error. 🙂

Line Spacing

Check to see if you’re happy with the number of lines per page that you have ended up with. Count the number of lines in the paperbacks around you and assess whether the genre that you write in expects a dense number of lines per page or spread out ‘lightness’. If you need to change it then go back into Scrivener and change the line spacing in the manuscript itself.

Blank Pages

All through the paperback you will need blank pages strategically inserted to make sure that the book flows properly. For instance, the Copyright page is always on the verso of the Title page. The dedication is always on the right-hand side. The beginning chapter is usually on the right-hand side. Any separation in the book between sections means that the next section usually starts on the right-hand side. This is just the way it is, so you’ll need blank pages to ensure your book follows suit.  Just keep pressing enter at the end of the page before the blank, in your Scrivener manuscript, thus creating a blank page.

Chapter Endings

Nothing looks worse in a book than one word at the top of a page and the remainder blank. You need to play around with the line spacing or the font size so that you can squeeze that word on to the previous page. I used a rule of two lines or less, and if this happened then they would need to be squeezed on to the previous page. Again, this is just trial and error, so keep exporting the pdf and taking a look at the result.


A paperback will forever look the way that you format it at the beginning, whereas an ebook can be changed by the reader for their own preferences. It’s important that you get the formatting right, so make sure you don’t rush it. If you follow the same size specification, and the other advice, then you should end up with a rather natty looking book. But make sure you check the CreateSpace online reviewer thoroughly to satisfy yourself that it’s ok, and then order a physical proof-copy as well.


3 responses to “How To Format Your Book In Scrivener For CreateSpace

  1. Pingback: How hard is formatting an ebook really? | The Self Publishing Challenge

  2. Pingback: No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links | No Wasted Ink

  3. Pingback: Notes From Facebook: What’s My Writing Process? | kimberly chase

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