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How to Use Microsoft Word to Create an Ebook

How to Use Microsoft Word to Create an Ebook
Microsoft Word has lots of features that make creating ebooks easy. You can use styles to format an ebook or update its formatting to work on a different platform. You can use the References tool to create a table of contents automatically. And you can produce a design template that's ready for repeated use, so you can spend more time creating content and less time futzing with layouts. Once you’ve mastered these steps, you can create great ebooks effortlessly. I’ll show you how.

Understanding Ebook Formats

Before you dive in, be aware that more than 20 common ebook formats exist today. Although some are readable on multiple devices, you'll find no single format that every device can read. On top of that, screen sizes vary, so page sizes, image formats, image sizes, and other elements vary, too.

If you want your ebook to be readable on multiple devices, you’ll probably need to publish it in multiple formats. You should plan out which e-readers to target before you start formatting: Your choice of devices will dictate which formats you can use, and from there you’ll need to research the exact specifications of each device so that you can design for it.

The most popular ebook file formats--the ones that most devices can read--include plain text, Adobe PDF, ePub, and HTML. Most e-readers can display images as well, although some, such as Amazon’s Kindle, have only monochrome screens. If you think people will read your ebook on a monochrome e-reader, make sure that the images look good in black and white.

(When you're done with designing, and you're ready to introduce your ebook to the world, read "How to Publish an Ebook, Step by Step.")

Design Your Ebook in Word

Within Word, you can save your file in .doc, .pdf, and .html formats; afterward, you can use other programs to convert the files into whatever other ebook formats you need.

To start your ebook, create a new Word document. If you plan to make multiple ebooks, design a basic layout and save it as a Word template so that you can use it for each new book. If you are making just one ebook, you can go ahead and place your text in it as you go.

Add the Title Page

Start with the title page, typing the book title, subtitle, and author name, along with any other details that should appear here. Select the title text and format it by clicking the Title style in the Styles gallery on the Home tab of the Ribbon toolbar. Select the subheading text and click the Subtitle style (if this doesn’t appear in the Style gallery list, press Ctrl-Shift-S to display the Apply Styles dialog box, type Subtitle into the field, and click Apply.

Click a style in the Styles gallery to apply it to the selected text.
Select and format all of the other text on the title page, too; for example, you can choose the style Emphasis for the author name and other information.

If a style does not format text the way you want it to look, you can change the style by right-clicking its name in the Style gallery and choosing Modify. Make your desired changes to the font, font size, and any other settings in the Modify Style dialog box, and click OK to apply them. All text formatted with that style will change automatically to match the new settings.

Configure the Table of Contents

As soon as you’ve finished the title page, you’re ready to start a new page. Choose Page Layout, Breaks, Page to begin a new page. If this next page is to be a table of contents for the book, type a title such as Table of Contents and then choose References, Table of Contents, Insert Table of Contents. Set 'Show Levels' to 1 or 2 depending on how many heading levels should display, select a format from the Formats list, and click OK twice. You will see a message stating 'No table of contents entries found', which is to be expected since you haven’t created any yet. Later, when your book does have content, you can update the table of contents by clicking that message and pressing F9.

Next page: Set Up the Ebook's Chapters

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