Until about a month ago, I had my manuscript all laid out in Word and I was a happy bunny. I didn’t even consider any of the other possibilities because as far as I was concerned, that option was working and, quite frankly, if it isn’t broken, then why fix it!

And then I read somewhere that if you are planning on publishing with Lightning Source (which I am – long story best saved for another post), then you should really use Adobe InDesign to create your PDF. The funny thing is that I can’t even remember where I read that little tidbit of information, but it got me thinking.  I have InDesign on my computer, so perhaps I should be using it? I decided to have a play around with it and see if it would be a possibility for me.

So then I did what I usually do when I want to learn something new and I Googled: ‘InDesign for book design’ and this was the first thing that came up:


It’s a video by Nicki from ‘Design Like a Pro’ that just makes setting up your whole master design so incredibly easy. I watched it, followed the steps suggested and had a practise layout to play around with in about half an hour.  It took me about an hour the next day to repeat the steps and get a page layout that looked exactly how I wanted it to, but after that all I needed to do was to insert and format my text.

So, some reasons you might want to think about using InDesign:

  • You’re after a really polished look for your final PDF.
  • You want to be able to set-up a master style sheet for your pages really easily. Your page layout can be done in minutes and applied to every page that you’d like it to be.
  • It is fairly straight forward to set-up paragraph styles which helps to format all of your writing in the same style (Surprise!) You can also set-up chapter titles in the same way.  Yes, I know that you can do this in Word, but because the pages in InDesign are like a blank canvas and not tied down to being a Word processor, it is easy to get things like the chapter number in the same place on every page you need them (without having to use page breaks or hitting ‘Enter’ 20 times).
  • You can do things like aligning the bottom line of each page to the same spot on each page, which is what traditionally published books have and we want our books to look as much like them as possible.
  • It is really easy to insert illustrations and have them stay where you put them.  As my book is middle grade fiction, there are around 33 images spread over 160 pages, so this was an important consideration.

And some reasons you might want to stick with Microsoft Word:

  • You’re not a really confident computer user.  If that’s the case, learning InDesign might be biting off a bit more than you can chew.
  • Buying InDesign isn’t cheap.
  • You don’t have any illustrations.
  • You’re happy with the way your book looks in Word and you’ve already taken a lot of time formatting it there.
  • You are doing an eBook release as well as paperback.  (I’m planning on doing this but I have yet to work out how to convert it to eBook format in InDesign.  It’s a work in progress.  I’ll let you know how I get on!)

I can’t imagine not using InDesign now that I’ve started.  How do you format your books?  What software do you use?  Do you have any tips to share?  Tell me all about it!


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