Balboa Press - FAQ Manuscript Formatting

Manuscript Formatting FAQ

General Book Formatting:

While formatting my manuscript, does Balboa Press have any suggestions to help create a clean and professional layout?
Should I include my cover in the manuscript?
How should I set up my title page within the manuscript?
What kinds of pages and information are typically included in a book?
What is the proper order for the beginning of my book, or front matter?
What is the proper order for the end of my book, or back matter?
What are the About the Book guidelines, and why are they so important?
Do I need a table of contents?
Where should credits and information regarding such items as permissions, editor names, illustrators, etc., be located in the book? 

ISBN:

What is an ISBN?
Do the numbers in an ISBN have any meaning?
Can I use an ISBN that I previously purchased for my manuscript?
How can I obtain the ISBN for my Balboa Press published book? 

More Detailed Book Formatting Information:

What are the technical book specs for each book size Balboa Press offers?
What fonts can I use in the book?
Can I publish a book in languages other than English?
What is the average font size for the main body of text? 

Images:

Can I put images in my book?
How do I label and submit images so they appear properly in my book?
Can I include links to images and files in my manuscript?
Can I have color pictures in my book?
Can you print images "full-bleed" (images that go all the way to the edge of a page) in my book?
What is resolution? What does it really mean?
How do I determine the resolution of an image?
What resolution should the images be?
Can I use an image from another book or from the Internet?  

General Book Formatting:

While formatting my manuscript, does Balboa Press have any suggestions to help create a clean and professional layout?

We are happy to present you with suggestions for how to create a clean and professional layout. Having a consistently formatted manuscript means less work for you in the editing stage, less money you will spend having our designers format your book and a quicker turnaround time when it comes to getting your book published.

Consistency throughout the book is the most important thing you can remember in formatting. Consistency applies to things like font throughout the book, line spacing and justification, paragraph indents, spacing after punctuation, chapter headings, etc. Line spacing, font size and style should be consistent throughout the main body of the text, although bold or italics can vary. (However, it is best not to overuse bold, italics, or underlines, which can be very distracting to the reader).

Paragraph indentation may seem like a simple thing, but many authors do not consistently use the tab key to start a paragraph, choosing instead to press the space bar which causes inconsistent indentation. You may also prefer to have a space between each paragraph rather than an indentation.

With punctuation and other formatting choices, decide what you like and be consistent. For example, some authors like to use one space after punctuation that ends a sentence and some like to use two spaces. Consistency also applies to other punctuation styles, such as dashes, smart quotes or straight quotes, ellipses, etc. You can use the "find/replace" function in Microsoft Word to assist you in locating and changing these details so they are consistent.

While formatting your book, it is extremely important to keep the readability of your book in mind. The main aspects that affect readability are font style, font size and line spacing. Use a standard, easy to read font for the main body of your book. Typically, a serif font works best for the book body. A serif font means there are little marks or “serifs” on the tops and bottoms of letters. Examples of serif fonts include: Garamond Pro or Garamond, Caslon Pro or Caslon, Adobe Jenson Pro, Minion Pro or Times New Roman. Fonts without the serif mark (called san-serif fonts) are not typically used for the main body of the book, but there is no "rule" against it. If you prefer a san serif font, some possibilities are Century Gothic, Arial or Helvetica. You can use more decorative fonts for chapter titles and opening pages, but using them in the text can be distracting and confusing to readers. Consider using italics instead of a different font if you need something to stand out in your text.

Line spacing is as important as font when it comes to the readability of your book. Books are easiest to read with 1.5 spacing because the readers’ eye can easily jump from line to line. No matter what kind of spacing you prefer, just make sure it is consistent.

Additional formatting tricks you may not even think about are headers at the top of every page that list the author name and book title (name on one page, title on the other) and page numbers. Don’t list page numbers on the title page, dedication page and any blank pages. You might find it handy to spend some time looking through books you have at home or browsing through books at a store. Keep in mind the type and style of book and the various aspects of the page layouts you like and dislike.

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Should I include my cover in my manuscript?

No. The cover will be designed separately from the body of the manuscript during a different stage in the production process. Please see this FAQ about cover design.

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How should I set up my title page within the manuscript?

The title page can be located in two different places depending on your personal tastes. It can go on the first page when you open the cover of your book or on the third page of your book facing the second right-facing page. The title page includes your book’s title, subtitle (if applicable) and your name/pen name.

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What kinds of pages and information are typically included in a book?

There are several basics all books should have, plus optional pages you may want to include.

  • Every book should have a title page which lists the title of your book, subtitle (if applicable) and author name/pen name.
  • Every book must have a copyright page.
  • The first optional page is a dedication page, something many authors choose to include in their books. The dedication page is usually a simple sentence on an otherwise blank page that may say something like, “To my parents who always believed in me.” To be clear, the dedication page is different from the acknowledgements page, another page that usually thanks a longer list of people who made your book happen. You must make the final decision if you want to include one, both or none of these pages.
  • The second optional page is a table of contents. A table of contents lists the chapter names and/or page numbers on which the chapter can be found. This page is more often found in non-fiction books than fiction books. Be careful if you do include a table of contents in a fiction book that you do not give away the plotline of the book with the chapter names.
  • The final optional page is an “about the author” page. This page is most typically included after the main body of the text in your manuscript on one of the last pages of the book. This is also a good place to include a photograph of yourself if you so choose.

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What is the proper order for the beginning of my book, or front matter?

The beginning of your book, or "front matter," consists of the pages of information typically found before the main body text begins. You ultimately have control over what you want in this section. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, here is the general order of front matter: 1) Half title page (just the title), 2) series title, list of contributors, frontispiece or blank page, 3) Title page, 4) Copyright page, 5) Dedication page or epigraph, 6) Table of Contents, 7) List of Illustrations, 8) List of Tables, 9) Foreword, 10) Preface, 11) Acknowledgements (if not part of the preface), 12) Introduction (if not part of the text), 13) List of abbreviations or chronology.

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What is the proper order for the end of my book, or back matter?

"Back matter" consists of the pages and materials that generally fall after the main body of the text. You can decide what to include or not include in this section of your book. Here is the general order of back matter according to the Chicago Manual of Style: 1) Appendix, 2) Notes, 3) Glossary, 4) Bibliography, 5) List of Contributors, 6) Index, 7) Author biography and/or photo.

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What are the About the Book guidelines, and why are they so important? 

Retail websites, such as Apple’s iBookstore, have the right to refuse to list your title on their website if your book description does not meet their requirements. You must follow the guidelines listed here in order to avoid any issues. 

Book Description Guidelines:

  1. No more than 2,000 characters, including spaces and punctuation
  2. No mention of competing websites or bookstores
  3. No reference to pricing
  4. No reference to print version add-ons (e.g., CD-ROM inside the book, etc.)
  5. Should describe the book, NOT the author or irrelevant topics
  6. Should be written in the book’s primary language (e.g., if the book is written in Spanish, then the description must be in Spanish too)
  7. Should be well edited and free of typos, spelling mistakes and grammar errors

Example of Incorrect Description:

Arnold Author is a retired professor and television writer who lived through the turbulent political drama detailed in this work of nonfiction. This is his sixth novel. Look for more titles by Author on Amazon.com starting at $9.99.

What’s Wrong in This Example 

  • Describes the author, not the book
  • Reference to pricing
  • Mention of competing website or bookstore

Example of Correct Description:

Award-winning writer Arnold Author recounts the turbulent political climate of 1960s Greentown in this gripping novel based on a true story. During this frightening period, two politically opposed individuals come together to stop an underground plot to overthrow the local government. There are two sides to every story; find out which side comes out on top in Love Liberated

We work hard to make sure your book can be made available for purchase through as many channels as possible.  If you have already published your book and wish to edit your About the Book section, simply log in to your Balboa Press account and click on the “Book Status” tab. Please contact your production team if you have any questions.

* Updating your book description does not guarantee that your book will be listed on any retail partner’s website.

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Do I need a table of contents?

A table of contents lists the chapters and/or sections with the page number of the beginning of that chapter. A table of contents is most useful and more commonly found in a non-fiction book, reference book or other very lengthy book because people tend to skip around more and look for needed information.

When reading a novel readers are less likely to skip around and more likely to read the book straight from front to back. Be careful if you do decide to include a table of contents in a novel that the chapter titles do not give away the plotline. You may consider just naming your chapters only as “Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.” instead of with chapter names.

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Where should credits and information regarding such items as permission, editor names, illustrators, etc. be located in the book?

The most common place to find credit information is on the lower section of the copyright page, below the publisher information. However, the placement of credit information may also depend on the copyright holders’ demands and your relationship with that person. However, many people wish to give more visible credit, especially if they have a close relationship with the copyright holder, such as a friend or relative, or if the individual is famous or well known.

Another factor to consider is how visible the work is throughout the book. For example, if the book contains an original photograph on almost every page the photographer credit should probably be more visible, perhaps on the cover or title page. On the other hand if there are only a few photographs throughout the book then a less visible credit, perhaps on the copyright page, is sufficient. For photographs and illustrations within the book, credit is also sometimes placed directly under the photograph or illustration in a small caption. Longer, more personal acknowledgements and/or credits can usually go in the front or back of the book. See an above FAQ for more information on front and back matter sequence.

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ISBN

What is an ISBN?

"ISBN" stands for "International Standard Book Number." It is a unique, 13-digit number assigned to each book published internationally. (ISBNs before January 1, 2007 were 10-digit numbers, but they switched to 13-digit numbers to allow more new ISBNs). The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify a title or edition of that title from a specific publisher. This allows for a more efficient mode of marketing and purchasing for retailers, libraries, universities, distributors and individual consumers.

Note: Receiving just your ISBN does not guarantee title listings. To ensure your titles get in the Books in Print database you must submit your title information to the official ISBN website.  

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Do the numbers in an ISBN have any meaning?

The numbers are specific to and identify four things: 1) Group identifier code, which groups nations and countries geographically that often share the same language, 2) Specific publisher identifier, 3) Title or specific edition of the title identifier, 4) Check number, which proves that the ISBN is authentic.

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Can I use an ISBN that I previously purchased for my manuscript?

No. The ISBN is specific to the publisher. If you have an ISBN for your manuscript, it is still valid for the manuscript in an unpublished form. Once the book is published through Balboa Press it will need a new ISBN.

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How can I obtain the ISBN for my Balboa Press published book?

An ISBN is included with each Balboa Press publishing package. The ISBN will be inserted on the copyright page and on the back cover of the book with the bar code. The bar code is a digital image sellers can scan to identify the ISBN. Visit www.isbn.org for more detailed information about ISBN.

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More Detailed Book Formatting Information:

What are the technical book specs for each book size Balboa Press offers?

Balboa Press titles are printed using only high-quality paper and materials. We will help guide you through our publishing process to meet the technical requirements for a published book. But if you're curious, below are the general technical requirements for each book.

Page Count:

Softcover Black and White Interior:

5" x 8" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 740 pages

5.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 740 pages

6" x 9" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 740 pages

7.5" x 9.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 740 pages

8.25" x 11" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 828 pages

Hardcover Black and White Interior:

5.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement 108 pages
  • maximum page requirement 740 pages

6" x 9" book

  • minimum page requirement: 108 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 740 pages

(NOTE: By upgrading to the hardcover option, the softcover version of your book must also be in one of the available hardcover formats and must meet the 108 page minimum.)

Softcover Color Interior:

8.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 18 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 480 pages

8.5" x 11" book

  • minimum page requirement: 18 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 480 pages

The last page of all books must be a blank, left facing page. We will add blank pages to the end of the book if necessary to meet these requirements.

Binding:

Our black and white and color books are perfect bound, which is the standard binding style for most books. The pages are cut evenly and bound into the spine, which has a flat surface upon which text may be placed if the width is sufficient:

  • Black and white book binding requirements: at least 80 pages or more.
  • Color book binding requirements:  48 to 480 pages

Margins: 

All books must be formatted within the margins required for the book size of your choice. We will layout your manuscript to fit the margins during the production process. But if you happen to be formatting your own book, you can adjust the page lay out on a standard Microsoft® Word 8.5" x 11" document page. The margin requirements in Microsoft® Word are as follows:

5" x 8" and 5.5" x 8.5" book

  • Page size: 5" x 8" or 5.5" x 8.5"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5"

6" x 9" and 7.5" x 9.25" book

  • Page size: 6" x 9" or 7.5" x 9.25"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5"

8.25" x 11" book

  • Page size: 8.25" x 11"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5

*For Color books, speak with your publishing consultant about margin sizes.

Paper Type:

Black-and-White Interior Books:
Interior pages will be printed in black and white (grayscale). The front cover of the book can be printed in full color (CMYK); however, our printer does not allow any text or images to be printed in the interior of the cover.

Your book can be printed on crème colored interior paper in the following sizes:

  • 5" x 8"
  • 5.5" x 8.5" 
  • 6" x 9" 

Crème paper has the following specifications:

  • Paper Weight: 55 lb.
  • Paper Width: 444 PPI*
  • Paper Type: offset, opaque, acid-free

Your book can be printed on bright white colored interior paper in the following sizes:

  • 5" x 8"
  • 5.5" x 8.5"
  • 6" x 9"
  • 7.5" x 9.5"
  • 8.25" x 11"

Bright white paper has the following specifications:

  • Paper Weight: 50 lb.
  • Paper Width: 512 PPI*
  • Paper Type: offset, opaque, acid-free paper

Black-and-White Soft Covers:
The specifications for the covers of all sizes of black-and-white interior, softcover books:

  • Weight: 100 lb.
  • Paper Type: offset, white enamel, laminated (glossy)

Black-and-White Hard Covers:
The specifications of the hard cover for the 6" x 9" black-and-white interior books:

  • Weight: 100 lb.
  • Hard cover: Patriot blue cover with a gold foil stamped spine

Dustjacket:

  • Weight: 100 lb.
  • Paper type: white enamel offset paper and laminated

Softcover Color Interior Books: 
Interior pages and cover are printed in full color (CMYK); however, our printer does not allow any text or images to be printed in the interior of the cover.

Your book can be printed on bright white paper printed with CMYK color in the following sizes:

  • 8.5" x 8.5" 
  • 8.5" x 11" 

White paper printed with CMYK color has the following specifications:

  • Paper Weight: 50lb.
  • Paper Width: 385 PPI*
  • Paper Type: uncoated white paper

Softcover Color Books Cover:

  • Weight: 80lb.
  • Thickness: 238 PPI*
  • Paper Type: cover stock
  • Color: white laminated (glossy)

*PPI means "pages per inch." A page in this case means the actual piece of paper, or front and back of a sheet of paper, which technically would be counted as two pages of text in the book.

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What fonts can I use in the book?

We have access to a wide variety of fonts. Please view our allowable fonts list to make sure we can print your font. When reviewing the font list, please note that not all fonts are available in bold, italic and bold italic.

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Can I publish my book in a language other than English?

Yes, you can publish your book in any language as long as there is a font to support it. Please see our allowable fonts list for more information.

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What is the average font size for the main body of text?

The average font size for the main body of text is 11- or 12-point font. The particular font you choose and your preference determines if 11 or 12 would be more appropriate. Keep in mind that various fonts can look very different at the same point size depending on the style. We generally advise against printing as small as a 10-point font for the main body, but it could be acceptable for some books.

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Images:

Can I put images in my book?

Images can be included in your book. We suggest using a high resolution image of 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher at the size you would like for it to appear in the book. (We cannot accept a book with any images less than 150 DPI.) It is in your best interest to use high resolution images in your book in order to achieve a professional appearance.

Also, make sure that you have the permission to use the image if you personally did not take the picture or create the image. See our FAQ about copyright and permissions for more details. If you do not have permission to use an image, you should not place it in the book.

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How do I label and submit images so they appear properly in my book?

Our book designers will place the images for you in your book. We request that authors do not submit images embedded in their manuscripts because the text of your book and the images will be imported into the design program separately. Embedded images are automatically reduced in size and resolution and must be extracted and resized before they can be replaced separately back into your book. Image extraction incurs a fee for you and will lengthen the completion time for your book.

Therefore, we request that our authors submit each image in a separate, individual file by e-mail in a JPEG or TIFF format with a resolution of 300 DPI or higher. If your files are too large or you have too many, you are encouraged to send them on a CD or flash drive. Submitting original hard copy photographs or illustrations is not encouraged, unless it is an absolute last resort. Due to the high volume of materials we receive and process in our headquarters, we cannot assume responsibility for lost or damaged physical materials.

In order for our book designers to know which image is which, you must use a labeling system that is clear and signifies the order and placement of images within your book. For example, the first image to appear in your book should be labeled "01.jpg" or A.tiff"; the second image in your book should be labeled "02.jpg" or "B.tiff", and so on. Following this method ensures your images are placed by the book designer in the order you want them to appear and you can easily refer to each image by its label.

Placeholders are used instead of embedded images to signal where each image should be placed within your manuscript. When writing your manuscript, simply include a placeholder like [PLACE IMAGE HERE filename.jpg] so your book designer will know to replace that text with the image you submitted separately following the instructions above. If you would like to include a caption or other instructions for your image, type them in within your image placeholder. Example: [PLACE IMAGE HERE 08.jpg CAPTION: Our wedding day, July 28, 2007.]

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Can I include links to images and files in my manuscript?

No, you cannot include links to images in your manuscript.

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Can I have color pictures in my book?

We can only place color pictures in books being published with a Color book publishing package. We cannot place color pictures in any books published with our Core publishing packages. If you submit a color image for a black and white book, please be aware it will be printed in grayscale within your book. For Core package books we can accept color images for the front and back covers of your book.

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Can you print images "full-bleed" (images that go all the way to the edge of a page) in my book?

At this time, we can only print full-bleed images in our color books. We cannot print full-bleed images in our black and white books because all text and images must fit within the margins of your selected book size.

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What is resolution? What does it really mean?

Basically, resolution means the clarity and crispness of an image, which is measured in points or pixels per metric unit (inch, centimeter, etc.) Pixels are units of a single color and value that make up an image. The more pixels or dots in a set area, the smaller the dots are, the finer the detail and the higher the resolution. If the resolution is low, that means there are fewer pixels per inch, which means each pixel is automatically made larger. When the resolution is very low, you can actually see the blocky pixels - that's where the term "pixilated" originates.

A pixel's size is dependent on the size of the image and in relation to the density of pixels. Consider this scenario: two images of the exact same size are divided into squares. Each square can only represent one color and value and together they will be used to display the image. The first image is divided into 300 squares, and the second into 150 squares. As a result, the 300 squares in the first image are smaller than the 150 squares in the second image. Comparing this to resolution, the first image has a higher resolution than the second image because it has a greater number of smaller pixels.

However, resolution is not a set thing; it can change when the image size changes. Using the example above, imagine taking the first, high resolution image and enlarging the entire image to twice its original size. The number of squares, or pixels, remains the same (300), but the pixels themselves become larger to fill the larger area. It terms of resolution, this new larger format has lowered the resolution of the image. So what this means to you is that a high resolution image at one size can become a low resolution image at a larger size. Make sure that your images are high resolution at the size you want them to appear in your book.

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How do I determine the resolution of an image?

There are a variety of ways to determine an image's resolution and size. The best and most accurate way to check is by using an image viewing program. The steps to determine and adjust the resolution and size vary from program to program. For instance, in Adobe Photoshop, you can open an image in the program, then click on the "Image" dropdown menu, and select "Image size." When using Microsoft Office Picture Manager, you can look under "file" then "properties," or you can right-click the image and open "properties". If you are not using either of those programs with your images you can use the "help" function within the program you’re using to learn how to check the resolution and size of an image.

Another basic measure is the overall file size of your image. Not the physical size of the picture, but the size of the actual file. If your picture is around 500 KB or more, then your image is most likely high resolution. 1 MB or higher is preferred. But if the file is small, 10, 50 or 100 KB, then the resolution is most likely too low. If you're still not sure, try printing your image on paper. If it looks fuzzy or grainy, then it's probably low resolution.

If you really want to use an image and you're not sure about the resolution, you can always add it to your book. During the manuscript uploading process, the image resolution will be checked to determine if the image is below our printer’s minimum requirement. Unfortunately images below the minimum resolution cannot be used and will be removed.

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What resolution should the images be?

We suggest using a high resolution image of 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher at the size you want it to appear in the book. Any image less than 300 DPI will not look as clear as it could, but it can still be included in your book as long as the resolution is no less than 150 DPI. Depending on the degree of quality, an image less than 300 DPI will look grainy or blocky when printed, instead of crisp and clear. Therefore, it's in your best interest to use high resolution images in your book in order to achieve a professional appearance.

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Can I use an image from another book or from the Internet?

Most images from the Internet, another book, magazine or newspaper are copyright protected. You are required to get permission from the copyright owner to use the image in your book. If you have permission to use the image from a book or the Internet, then yes, you can use it in your book. For more detailed information about copyright protection and obtaining permission for images, see our FAQ section about copyright laws.

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