Body Matter Page Layout

The body matter of a book is in essence its meat. This is where the chapters go in a fiction book. It is where the sections go in a non-fiction book. It is everything which is not introductory front matter stuff, and everything which is not summary / appendix back matter stuff.

Some people consider a fiction book's Prologue and Epilogue to be separate from body matter, but I would disagree. They are still parts of the story. They are integral to the story. L. A. Confidential and The Da Vinci Code both have prologues. Both are included in the main story area and use numbering that flows into the rest of the story.

Here are a few keys for laying out your body matter.

Chapters / Sections Start on the Right
Yes, sometimes you'll have to insert a blank page to make this work. That's OK. Every new section or chapter should start on the right hand side. It's best to do this at the very end of the process, as your edits along the way can alter how the pages fall.

Chapter / Section Heads are Larger
People flip through their books. They need to easily see where those new chapters or sections begin. Make the headings for those larger. In Word, it's best to tag them with the "heading 1" format tag. That way they automatically stay consistent and show up in all table of contents entries. The chapter / section title should have some white space above it to further help with the "find it easily" process.

First Page is Page Number Free
Don't put a page number, header, or footer on the very first page of your book. This page is special. It should focus on the story. Just put the "Chapter 1" title (or Prologue if appropriate) and the story. Your page numbering starts on the second page of the story, with page 2. Industry standard is to put each page number on the "outside top". So the left page has the page number in the top left, while the right page has the page number in the top right. The rest of the header area is either used to repeat the title on both sides, or to alternate the title and author name.

Here are some examples of the first three pages of various stories, to show how this works. Again note that in all cases the first page is on the right hand side.

Page Numbers and CreateSpace
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Page Numbers and CreateSpace
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Page Numbers and CreateSpace
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Page Numbers and CreateSpace
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I have all sorts of advice on the main Getting Your Book Published page on how to set up the page numbers, chapter headings, and so on. One word of advice I offer - genearlly it's best not to have both a header and a footer. That gobbles up valuable real estate that you can use for your story. The more pages you make your book, the higher the buyer price will be, and the fewer people who will read it. The more you can optimize your pages, the better.

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