The first time I had to convert my manuscript to a PDF for #CreateSpace I was intimidated. But saving $200 or more was enough motivation to try. I lacked confidence because I knew little of what I was doing. Except for that large facility in Utah, I wasn’t sure where, in cyberspace, my story would land; China, Mars, Pluto even. I longed for simplified instructions tailored for a first-timer who had a plain text manuscript created with Word 2013.

Don’t get me wrong. There are great blogs and books out there with good information from folks more knowledgeable and skilled in the use of computer stuff than I’ll ever be.

I admire those who can explain how to use all versions of MS Word 2003 through 2013. But quite frankly, I get confused when instructions include the differences between all of the Word versions. Then add a discussion of how to deal with colors, images, photographs, drawings, formulas—felt like my head would explode.

After reading much on self-publishing and full of information, intimidation remained. I was overwhelmed with the details on trim size, paper, margins, bleed, headers, footers, pagination and so on. Those are the kinds of things that bring on cold sweats and nightmares.

I must thank #India Drummond and #Jenyfer Matthews for their blogs. They helped right the ship and gave me the courage to try formatting my manuscript.

I’m not trained in the use of computers, print technology or any technology for that matter. Shoot, I don’t even use a cellphone. I’m fifth smartest in my home behind my wonderful wife, two Border Terriers and a smart T.V.

When I decided to self-publish my recent mystery novel, #Deadly Consequences, I wanted to keep my product development cost as low as possible. I opened an account with CreateSpace, which was easy and user friendly. If I found steps not so friendly, the customer support by email or telephone was timely and resolved my issues. By the way, if you open an account, the moment you see the telephone number for customer support, write that puppy down. I found whenever I needed to call for help, the number was hard to find. I’ll concede the difficulty could be my clumsy computer skills. [Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in CreateSpace, but their services were splendid.]

As I approached self-publishing, right off the bat, I realized the only steps I could actually do myself were prepare my manuscript, format it to book size, convert the document to a PDF and download it to CreateSpace. I’m not ready to tackle cover design, some day, maybe.

I’m sure you know, CreateSpace offers templates you can use to convert a Word document to a printable book file. I didn’t use that method and might not be describing it accurately. Besides, I don’t get along well with templates. I chose to convert the manuscript into a PDF myself. Here is how to do it.


  •  If you don’t have a manuscript created with Word 2013, my steps may not help you. [May work with Word 2010 version]
  •  If your manuscript isn’t in common black fonts [Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri or some such], I don’t know if my steps will help you.
  •  If your manuscript has graphics, unusual fonts, color, photographs, images, drawings, formulas, etc. my steps may not work for you.


 Remember: You will be changing format settings. Be sure to highlight the entire manuscript so format changes will be applied to the whole document.

[Pretty basic, but in haste I sometimes forget to select the whole document for format changes. Click on the “Home” tab and on the right end of your format tool bar you’ll find “Select.” (Third below “Find”) Click on “Select” and a list of options appears. Choose “Select All” and you are done,]

Pick a book size (trim size).

Do this on your CreateSpace project (title) pages. A number of sizes are offered. Select one identified as an “industry standard size.” You’ll find exhaustive discussions on size. Simply put, the more pages you have the more it will cost to print. Your retail price will need to be set high enough to pay for printing and leave a little for your royalty. CreateSpace has a royalty calculator to help you decide on a price. Personally, I picked a size that gave the look and feel I wanted. I looked at other novels I’ve read and measured the ones with a size I liked.

Pick a paper.

Do this on your CreateSpace project (title) pages. Choices are white or cream. White is a bit thinner. This could impact the printing cost. You may simply wish to pick the paper that gives you the appearance you want. I like the cream.

Open the manuscript document.

Embed thy fonts.

I’d never heard of such a thing. I had everything perfect and downloaded my first PDF to CreateSpace. ERROR WARNING. I froze as I read the screen. My fonts weren’t embedded. How was I to know?

I was relieved as I read further because CreateSpace had embedded the fonts for me. Whew! I had no idea how to embed fonts. I have since learned and here are the steps:

Select the “FILE” tab, very top left of your document window.

Select “Options” at the bottom of the list of actions offered. A dialogue window titled “Word Options” will appear.

Select the “Save” option. Listed in the left margin.

“Customize how documents are saved.” Title on the new dialogue window that appears.

Find the line “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document:” Located near the bottom of this dialogue window. [Your manuscript should be listed in the little window on the end of this line. A good thing.]

Select “Embed fonts in the file.” [Nothing else should be selected here.]

Select “OK.” You’re fonts will be embedded. You are Done.

Select “PAGE LAYOUT.” Find this tab along the top of your document window, fifth from the left.

Select “Page Setup.”

Under “Page Layout,” the toolbar is divided into three sections. In the bottom of each are “Page Setup” on the left followed by “Paragraph” and “Arrange.” In the bottom right corner of the “Page Setup” section, left click the little boxed diagonal arrow.

A dialogue window titled “Page Setup” will appear. Across the top there are three tabs, “Margins, Paper and Layout.” You’ll have to visit each of these and you can go in any order you wish. I do margins first.

Select “Margins” tab.

[Note: You may be puzzled as to why I don’t click on the “Margin” or paper “Size” icons located on the left side of the “Page Setup” section instead of opening this “Page Setup” dialogue window. The reason is you’d end up here anyway. The icons give you various margin settings or paper sizes, but you need custom settings. The dialogue window for “Page Setup” allows custom settings.]

Set margins for the manuscript.

CreateSpace offers a table with recommended margins. Top, bottom and right margins will be the same measurement. You’ll find much discussion on how many more words you get on a page with this margin or that. My head’s starting to hurt again. The minimum margin for the outside edges (top, bottom, right) is 0.25 of an inch. Most normal people would say one-quarter inch, but printers apparently love measurements in tenths, hundredths and thousandths with decimal points.

The only tricky margin setting is the left (inside) margin. This is where the side where your text butts up against the center or binding of your book. The inside margin will be an aggregate of the measurements you choose for the gutter and left margin. If you make it too narrow, a reader may not be able to see the first words in the lines of text. CreateSpace has a table to assist you in deciding on your inside margin measurement.

I was unsure whether to enter the total measurement in the left margin box and leave the gutter at zero or split my measurement between the two. I’m unsure what unforeseen things might happen if I try to outsmart a computer. So for my novel, a bit over 300 pages, I split the measurement between the left and gutter margin settings.

Enter the margin measurements you wish to have for the pages of your book. As I said, top, bottom and right are usually the same measurement. The left or inside margin will be different.

Find “Multiple Pages.” Halfway down the dialogue window. Change “normal” to “mirrored margins.”

Find “Apply to.” Near the bottom of this dialogue window. Select the “Whole Document.”

Select “Paper” tab. We’re still working with settings available in the dialogue window titled “Page Setup.”

Remember the “trim size” you selected for your book on the CreateSpace page? This is where you use those dimensions.

Enter the width and height (“Trim Size”) you have chosen for the book.

You shouldn’t need to change it but insure the size entered applies to the “Whole Document” in the bottom of this window.

Select “Layout” tab. Continuing in the “Page Setup” window, this layout window has settings for your Headers and Footers.

The only setting I selected on this screen was to have different text displayed in the headers and footers of odd and even numbered pages.

Select “Different odd and even.” If you want your headers or footers to be the same on each page don’t select this odd/even option.

Some authors like to print their books without a header or footer on the first page of each chapter. The different first page option is here. I didn’t go there. The primary reason was I didn’t want to get tangled up with too many variables my first time through.

Check again to make sure your setting(s) apply to “Whole Document” at the bottom.

Close “Page Setup” window. We’re done making changes to the “Whole Document.”

Save your work.

Check Front Matter.

Front matter is a term used when referring to all of those pages between the front cover and the first page of the first chapter.

Count the pages of your front matter (pages for rave reviews, title, copyright, dedication, acknowledgements, etc.). You may need to add a blank page to your front matter because you want page one of chapter one to be on the right-hand side when a reader opens the book to begin this masterpiece. The best places to add blank pages is either at the beginning or the end of your front matter.

Add Blank Page(s) (Optional). If you need to add a blank page or wish to add one for aesthetics, follow these steps.

Revisit the “PAGE LAYOUT” tab. On the top border of your document window.

Select “Breaks.” In the top right of the “Page Setup” section. A list of “break” options will appear. The following discussion will help you choose.

Beginning of “front matter.”

Select “Page.” The top choice listed in the “Page Break” options. This will give you one blank page at the start of your front matter.

For two blank pages at the start of your front matter, you could insert a second “Page Break” or select an “Odd Page” section break from the bottom of the options for “Section Breaks.” A second page break is simpler, fewer formatting woes.

Between front matter and the first chapter.

Here you need to use a section break because you will want to apply different formatting to your story pages than you used on the front matter pages.

For my book, I needed to add a blank page after my front matter. At the end of the last line of text of my front matter, I inserted a section break, not a page break.

Remember “PAGE LAYOUT” to “Page Setup” to “Breaks.”

Select “Next Page.” I selected this from the list of section break options.

Now, scroll through the front matter and watch the page number indicator on the bottom to insure you have an odd numbered page for the start of chapter one. If you do, the beginning of your book will be displayed on the right-hand side.

When a page is added with a section break the blank page may not always appear on the screen as you scroll through the front matter. You’ll have to ask a computer person why. However, the extra page will be included in the page count of your document in the blue border on the bottom of your document window.

Back of book (Optional).

What if you want to add a blank page after “The End”? Again, you go to “PAGE LAYOUT,” to “Page Setup,” to “Breaks.” From the list of “Section Breaks” select the “Next Page” option. If you don’t use a section break you’ll get headers and footers on the blank pages here. [You’ll also need to deselect “same as previous” in your header on the last page. This feature is discussed below.]

Comment on blank pages.

I’ve read the “keepers of standards” in the publishing world frown if you have more than two consecutive blank pages. They also frown if the first page of chapter one is not on the right-hand side as an odd numbered page. I don’t know which frown is more severe.

Insert Header to story pages.

I didn’t add a footer. I wanted to keep my first time through this publishing process simple by limiting the number of variables. So I won’t deal with footers. If you decide to add footers, remember we chose the “odd/even” pages option. I believe that setting will apply to both the headers and footers. This would also apply to the “different first page” option. I didn’t want to deal with the added complexities.

Go to the first page of chapter one. Remember: This is the first page of text after the “Section Break” you inserted at the end of your front matter.

Select “INSERT”tab. Third from the left on the top border of your document window.

Select “Header.” Icon near the right end of your formatting choices.

Select “Blank” from the top of the choices listed.

“[Type here]” should appear on the left side of a blank header on your first page of chapter one.

[Remember when I opened “Page Setup” and selected the “Layout” tab? I chose to have my headers and footers different on odd and even numbered pages. I wanted to have the book title and page number in the header of odd numbered pages. On even numbered pages, I wanted to have the page number and my author name. You may choose different content or appearance.]

Enter your text in the “[Type here]” field.

Insert “Page Number.”

 Position the cursor in the spot where you want a page number. Under the “INSERT” tab, where we have been working, find the “Page Number” icon under the header and footer icons.

Select Page Number. [I use the first choice, “Current Position.”]

My header on the first page of chapter one looked similar to this “Deadly Consequences  1.” You can be creative by changing the font or adding symbols, but I didn’t stray far from norms the first time through. Since page one is on the right side of your open book, under the “HOME” tab, in a section near the middle, click on the symbol for justify right. The text and page number of your header should jump to the right margin of your header.

On page two of chapter one a blank header was inserted here and on all pages in “SECTION 2.” Follow the same steps as you did to create the text and page number for page one. The “[Type here]” should already be left justified. If not, do it. My header looked similar to this “2  John Lawe.”

Before you leave, save your work on the header and check a few things.

  • Did the number “1” appear on the correct page?
  • Look on the left side of the header. Does it indicate you are located in “HEADER SECTION 2”? Good. If not, you have to insert a section break before chapter one begins.
  • Look on the right side of the header. Does the tag read “SAME AS PREVIOUS”? You don’t want that so click on those words and make them disappear.
  • Okay. Save your work and go to page two of chapter one. Do you have page two displayed and different text? Good. Remember, we had the headers set to read different on odd and even numbered pages.

Inspect your front matter and the first few pages of your story.

Front matter shouldn’t display any headers or footers. If you find headers or footers, blank or not, you’ll need to remove them. If you don’t, they’ll show up in your PDF image, at least mine did.

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Open the header on the first page of chapter one. On the bottom border, right margin, does the tag read “Same as previous”? If yes, click on the flag to make it disappear.
  • With the header still open look to the left margin, is there a tag that reads “Section 2”? If it reads “Section 1”, then you’ll need to check the section break you inserted at the end of your front matter because it ain’t working.
  • Still in the header, if you are in section two and you don’t have the same as previous section active, close the header. Go to each page of your front matter and with the headers active remove each one.
  • To remove a header or footer, blank or not, go to the “INSERT” tab. Place the cursor in the header (or footer) you want to remove. Select “Header” (footer) to get the drop down list and at the bottom you’ll find “Remove Header” (footer). Click on it. If all of the headers (footers) in your book disappeared, you didn’t have a section break between your front matter and your story. OOPS!


PERFECT?            PERFECT!          PERFECT!


For me this was straightforward. After fussing with margins, section breaks and headers, this was a piece of cake on Word 2013. There may be other ways to do this conversion, but this is what worked for me. With your formatted manuscript open, do the following:

Click on “FILE” (Tab top left of your document window.)

Select Export (Located above “Close” in the list of options.)

Select “Create PDF/XPS Document” (Should be highlighted on left side of the screen that appears.)

Select “Create PDF/XPS” icon (Located inches to the right under “Create PDF/XPS Document.”)

A dialogue window will appear titled, “Publish as PDF or XPS”

Leave the default settings in this window, but remember to enter your file name and make sure it will be saved in the directory and folder where you want it to reside.

Select “Options…” (Rectangular button located toward the bottom, right of center.)

A dialogue window headed “Options” will appear.

“Page range” section. Default is “All.” Leave it.

“Publish what” section. Change to the “Document” setting. Nothing else.

“Include non-printing information” section. Uncheck the “Document properties” setting. If you don’t do this your PDF image may include some unwanted formatting marks.

Close the option window. Double check on the file name and destination.

Select “Publish.”

Open your PDF and page through your masterpiece.

The PDF you created should look just like you want it to appear in print. No mistakes? Go to your CreateSpace account page. Open your title and follow the steps to complete the download of your PDF. Proof and distribute your book.

On my first go around I found some mistakes in my manuscript during proofing. To make corrections I had to return to my original 2013 Word document and make the changes. Then I converted the revised manuscript to a PDF again and downloaded the new and revised version to CreateSpace. They keep only one copy of your book and any new submission merely replaces the previous version.

If you want to see how my book’s interior turned out, check out my “Deadly Consequences” at     Use inside the book feature.