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MS Word Tutorial: Using Word To Write Your Ebook

Microsoft Word 2003 has been used for this tutorial. Earlier or later versions may have differences.

If you already have Microsoft Word® installed on your computer, there is no need to look further: you already have one of the best word processors for ebooks. When it comes to writing an ebook, this is my first choice. I also like Open Office (you can read the Open Office tutorial here), but Word is probably considered the industry standard…for good reason.

All the Formatting You Need, to Write Your Ebook in Microsoft Word

There are some good MS Word tutorial sites on the internet, which give you detailed instructions on how to use this word processor. One of my favorites, for help with Word 2007 and 2010 in particular, is But on these pages, we are going to look at the specifics that apply to creating your ebook in MS Word.

That means we probably don’t need to look at things like recording macros, using the security options, and other advanced functions.

All we need are the basics, which will allow us to write and create a perfectly acceptable ebook.

Basic MS Word Tutorial List

Select or create a document template

The standard template that you get when you open up MS Word is a plain document, using basic Times New Roman text, and Arial headings. Not exactly inspiring, so why not spice things up a little?

After all, the better the ebook appears, the less refunds you are going to get. For sure, the content is the most important thing, but that doesn’t mean people won’t judge you on appearances. A shoddy look could be associated with shoddy material. Besides, it’s much more fun to create your own look, than to have the same one as everybody else!

To open an existing template

1. Go to File/New

2. Look to the right side panel that has just opened, and click the link that says On my computer, and then browse the templates that are available to you. If you click on one, and it doesn’t show a thumbnail preview, you don’t have that particular one installed on your computer.

Selecting a theme for your document

MS Word comes with a heap of selectable themes that you can use. There might be one that is just perfect for your ebook, or possibly you can modify one to get exactly what you want.

To select a theme, just go to Format/Theme… in the top menu, and choose one you like.

You can make some modifications to your selected theme, and then save it as a new template. See below for instructions on how to do that.

Save a new template

To save a template that you have created, go to File/Save As

Save this a document template.

create a template in Microsoft Word

By default, this will save in your Templates folder. This is should be located in Documents and Settings/Admin/Application Data/Microsoft/Templates

There is no reason to save the new template anywhere else. You could if you wanted to, but then it wouldn’t be selectable from the templates folder the next time you want to choose a new template to use.

Add copyright, page#, header and footer

Once the ebook is written, we can start to add these. You can put a full copyright notice at the start of the document, and the shortened version in the header of each page. Typical text for the header copyright can be seen in the image below.

Go to View/Header and Footer, and the Header toolbar will appear. To add the ©, just have your cursor positioned after the word “copyright”, then go to Insert/Symbol

create a header in Microsoft Word

If you have the copyright information in the header, then you may not need a footer. But if you do decide to use one, then the header/footer toolbar will allow you to create it. This area could be used for references, links to outside resources, etc.

Page numbers are very simple to add, and are recommended.

Using headings correctly

This is something that gets overlooked sometimes. If you don’t use your heading tags correctly, then it is not possible to create a Table Of Contents. And a TOC (preferably a clickable TOC that takes you to the page you selected) is really a “must have” for your ebook.

Here is a look at how a TOC could be laid out, using a ficticious car sales company.

I have seen people just use normal text for their headings, increasing the font size and bolding the text. If you do that, then Word can never tell where your chapter headings are located, and the TOC will be incomplete.

Create and update a Table Of Contents

To insert your Table of Contents, you need to select all of the content in your document that will be included in the TOC. So go to Edit/Select All. Then place your cursor where you want the TOC, and go to Insert/Reference/Index and Tables. Generally, you will put this on your first page. If you have the book cover on that page, then put the TOC on the second page.

If you continue to add more content to the document after creating the T.O.C, then don’t forget to update it (and save the changes). To update, just right click anywhere in the TOC area, and use the update menu that appears.

Inserting images

Inserting an image is very simple, Insert/Picture then choose clipart or from file. However, do take the time to optimize your images before inserting them into your document.

As Microsoft Word makes it easy to resize, format, and make changes to the image you insert, it would be easy to think the image is going to be optimized for you when you resize it. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

As an example of this, I selected an image that was still at the original size of around 650kb. When I inserted it into a blank Word document, the image is resized to fit the page. I can then grab the corner of the image, and resize it further still.

However, even though the image now takes up very little physical space on the page, the filesize of the image remains at 650kb.

A blank Word document, saved with no content in it, will have a filesize of around 20kb. The more images you add to your ebook, the larger the final filesize will be. I’ve redone ebooks for people that started out at 12MB, and just by optimizing the images, I reduced that to under 1MB.

The images will be saved at a much smaller file size during the conversion to PDF, but why not start out with an optimum size from the beginning? If you are anything like me, then it’s likely you will send copies of your document to others for comments, reviews, proofreading etc.

So why send a document that is significantly larger than it has to be? Especially if you are likely to be sending it back and forth multiple times.

You can do some image optimizing using Word

If you don’t have any good graphics software (such as Photoshop, Gimp, Fireworks etc) then you can use Microsoft Word to do some basic optimizing. In the top menu, go toView/Toolbars/Picture

This will never do as well as, or have all the options of a dedicated graphics editor, but it will do a reasonable job.

Outside resources

You can find information on image optimzation, on these websites. Links open in a new window.

Optimizing images         Optimizing images using

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Updated: December 31, 2016 — 1:32 am

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