Top 5 Things to Know When Working with a Formatter

Working with a Formatter: Top 5 things to know

We here at SGR-Pub have formatted a slew of manuscripts (both for our releases and for other publishers). And we also tend to see the same misunderstanding of what a formatter does, and how authors should work with them. If you’re working with a formatter, we’ve compiled some tips to help you both get the most out of your partnership.

1. Don’t Worry About Page Numbers

Working with a formatter: Don't worry about page numbers or table of contents. Just send the manuscript One of the biggest points of consternation with newer authors is knowing what to send when hiring a formatter. Should you worry about the table of contents? Should you add page numbers and make sure everything’s aligned right?

Short answer: Nope.

Longer answer is that when your book is formatted, the formatter will change the size and shape of the paper, thus creating a new page numbering system. In addition, we automatically create table of contents from chapter headings. So that means if you want us to add additional pages, the program we use will automatically shift the rest of the book down.

2. Tell Us What’s Weird

Most books that come across our desk are very simple: front matter, interior with chapters, back matter. But on occasion, folks will want some custom formatting. Whether it be an interior section that’s handwritten or something more complex, let us know up front if there’s anything to be concerned about.

3. Give Us Your Front and Back Matter

Per the Independent Book Publisher’s Association checklist for self-published books, there’s a few things that need to be in your book. While self-publishing gives authors the freedom to work “outside the box,” generally, it’s a good idea to adhere to the industry standards.

For Front Matter, you’ll need a Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright page (to include ISBN and name of author), and Table of Contents. The TOC shouldn’t exceed two pages.

For Back Matter, you should include acknowledgements (if not in the front), about the author, and where to find your other works.

While you don’t have to give these to us formatted, we will need the text (especially the ISBN) before we send you the final documents.

4. Managing Edits

With most formatting jobs, we’ll offer one pass of typo incorporations (note: typos are errors you made in writing, formatting errors are errors we made in spacing or chapter headings). For our clients, since, as we said above, we won’t know final page numbers until the book is fully formatted, the best way to submit edits is to provide a few words around the edit so we can quickly search the manuscript for the error. For example:

…baloney.” she said…. Should be “baloney,” she said.

Other formatters may have other requirements, so check with them to find what method words best for them. As well, make sure you’re sending them a mostly typo-free draft, unless you’re also paying for additional help.

5. Show Us Your Fonts

Working with a formatter: your interior headings should match closely with your cover fontFinally, we’ll need to know what kind of font you want to use for your chapter headings, and what kind of scene separator you’d like. For most books, the chapter heading font (and front page title font) will resemble or be the same as what you used on your cover. Be aware: Some cover designers use custom fonts that may require additional fees from your formatter to replicate. If we can’t get exactly the same font, we’ll do our best to find something similar.


Want to know more about this topic? Need some help with formatting, editing, or even marketing? SGR-Pub offers a wide variety of services to help you make the most out of your self-publishing journey.

Contact us today for more information. We can’t wait to work with you!

Leave a Reply