QUESTION:
I’ve written an eBook, and now I want to make it look professional. But, I want to use Word as my “layout program”. Help?
ANSWER:
Word is really not designed to act as a layout program, but there are a few things that you can do to dress up your text and to make your product look more professional:
  • Start by designing a graphical cover in Illustrator, Photoshop, or some other graphics program.

    For design ideas, take some books off your bookshelves to see what the cover might look like. Choose simpler, blockier covers to model – these will be easier to use as a guide than a more complicated, layered cover would be.

To easily add graphics, try stock photos. Search on istockphoto.com for an affordable stock photo. Be sure to buy a high-resolution version (even though an eBook is a digital product, you’ll want to make the cover high resolution so that it will look as good as possible. You may also find that you need a high resolution version of the photo for later promotions, so having the high resolution version around (and spending a couple of extra dollars in the beginning) won’t hurt matters.

If you don’t have Illustrator or Photoshop, then you can design a simple cover in Word. Use the “Drawing Tools” menu (look in the Help file for the location of yours – it differs in different versions of Word). Get a custom look by selecting custom colors, and not using Word’s built-in color palette.

  • Then, design a matching page header and/or footer for the subsequent pages. These can be as simple as a stripe across the top and bottom (match the color of the stripe to the colors on the cover), the title of the book, your business’s URL, and of course, a page number.┬áInsert these as text and images in the header and footer of the page.
  • If you purchase a non-system-standard font (in other words, something that your computer doesn’t come with) and use that for your text, then you can get some pretty professional-looking results pretty easily. Fonts are inexpensive and can really dress up your product. You can browse for fonts at myfonts.com. Keep your choices simple, and consider legibility. Stick to standard text fonts – not decorative fonts. When in doubt, use really common fonts like Myriad Pro, Gill Sans, Warnock, Garamond, or Helvetica. And, by all means, please don’t use Comic Sans.
  • Combine a serif font (the fonts with little “feet” on the ends of the letters) for your headlines with a sans-serif font (the fonts without little “feet”) for the body text. Or, vice-versa. Combine fonts where the letter “O” has similar characteristics – if the “O” is round, combine that font with another font where the “O” is round. Or, if the “O” is tall and narrow, try matching to a tall and narrow font.
  • Use the “Format Paragraph” options and add 6 points of space before or after your paragraphs instead of hitting “enter” twice. It will produce a shorter space between the paragraphs, which looks more sophisticated.