Frequently Asked Questions - Formatting in Microsoft Word

This section contains tips for formatting the interior of the book using Microsoft Word, one of the most popular word processing software.

In Office 2003 or earlier

  • Go to File->Page Setup
  • Click on the tab named "Paper"
  • Choose the desired size from the "Paper Size" drop down. You can specify the size using "Custom Size", if it is not already available.

If you are using Office/Word 2007, "Paper Size" option would be available in the "Page Layout" tab.

To insert Page numbers, go to Insert->Page Numbers. Page numbers inserted like this would be updated automatically, if you insert or delete pages from the document. Do not insert page numbers manually for every page. Updating such documents would be a nightmare.

In Office 2003 or earlier, use the following steps to insert an automatic table of content

  • Format the "Chapter Titles" and whatever else you would want in the Table of Content with pre-defined Styles. In general you can use "Heading 1", "Heading 2", "Heading 3" etc. for the titles at different levels. It is possible to define custom styles and include other things in Table of Content too. But you may very well do without it.
  • After the chapters are written, click where you want to insert the Table of Content.
  • Go to Insert->Reference->Index and Table (If you are using MS Word/Office 2007, Table of Content feature can be found on "Reference" tab.)
  • Click on "Table of Contents" tab. Select the desired options there. Playing around with options a bit would give you an idea of how the table looks the best.
  • Sometimes you would have formatted some things with the heading styles, which you would not want in the "Table of Content". You can manually delete those lines manually.
  • If you change things is the document, before finalizing it, update the Table of Content. For doing this, right click on the Table of Content and click on "Update Field". There would be two options, namely
    • Update page numbers only:Use if no new headings would come, but page numbers might have changed.
    • Update Entire Table: Use if you have added new chapter headings etc.

If you are using MS Word 2007, Table of Content feature can be found on "Reference" tab.

For Office/Word 2003 or earlier, click of File->Page Setup. Then go to "Margins" tab and select the margins you want.

In Office 2007, "Margins" option can be found in "Page Layout" tab.

There are broadly two types of fonts namely "Serif" and "Sans-Serif". You can check out more details about them on their wikipedia pages at

Although you are free to experiment, the general wisdom is that serif fonts are good for printing, while sans-serif fonts are good for screen/web viewing. So, while preparing the book for Pothi.com's POD service, you would generally want to use a Serif Font for body text. Sans Serif font can be used for headings, titles etc. But for main body text, use a serif font.

In Office/Word 2003 or earlier, go to View->Header and Footer. Now you can type the text you want in the header area and it will appear on all pages.

If Office 2007, "Header" can be found in "Insert" tab.

You need to use two features of Word to be able to achieve this namely "Different odd and even headers" and "Sections".

For having different headers on even and odd page, you can select the option different even and odd page headers. In Word 2003 and earlier, after you go to View->Header and Footer, click on "Page Setup" and select "Layout Tab". Under "Headers and Footers" select "Different Odd and Even". Then you will be able to enter one header for odd pages and another for even.

Since you want to use chapter name in the header, you will need different headers for different parts of the book. To achieve this, you need to divide the document into sections. To know how to create and use sections, please refer to this article.

If you need some content to always start on a new page, do not achieve this by pressing "Enter" several times. Use the page break feature instead. To introduce a Page Break in Office 2003 and earlier:

  • Click where you would want the new page to be started
  • Go to Insert->Break->Page Break
  • Click OK

If you are using MS Word 2007, Page Break option can be found in "Insert Tab".

If you use "Enter" multiple times to get the content on a new page, there will be a problem when you update the content. Suppose you started chapter 2 on a new page. Later you wanted to add few sentences to chapter 1. Now, as you add that content, the first line of chapter 2 will start going down and will no longer start from the top of the new page. Similarly, if you delete content from chapter 1, chapter two will come on the previous page no longer starting from a new page. This is because MS word only knows that there were so many "Enter"s between chapter 1 and 2. It has no idea that you wanted chapter 2 to start on a new page. This will be an ongoing formatting headache.

So, the right way to start something on a new page is to use page break feature of MS Word. When you use page break MS Word knows that you want the content on a new page and irrespective of how content changes, it will intelligently always start it on a new page.

Page Break is a feature in MS Word that lets you start some content on a new page. To introduce a Page Break in Office 2003 and earlier:

  • Click where you would want the new page to be started
  • Go to Insert->Break->Page Break
  • Click OK

If you are using MS Word 2007, Page Break option can be found in "Insert Tab".

This is because MS Word has no way of knowing that you wanted the content to start on a new page. So, even slight changes in content/formatting elsewhere would spoil the alignment of your new page. Instead of pressing "Enter" to start a new page, use Page Break feature.

MS Word has actually created a border around your content. It is not a horizontal line; so it can not be deleted. To get rid of this border, select the content before the border. In Word 2003 go to Format->Borders and Shading. Click on "Borders" Tab. In the "Preview" you will see a border at the bottom. Click on it until it goes away, then click OK. This should remove the horizontal line.

In Word 2007, to reach to this option, you need to go to "Page Layout" tab, then click on "Page Border" and go to tab "Borders".