Evelyn Chartres Author
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Microsoft Manuscript Madness

How to format your manuscript for print on Microsoft Word and not rip your hair out!

Microsoft Word, like most user-friendly software is designed to make life easier and does this by making assumptions. While some are merely annoying others will have you ripping out your hair.

Microsoft Manuscript Madness is also available on Medium.

This tutorial concentrates on behaviours observed when working on a manuscript using versions of Microsoft Word with the Ribbon. More specifically the following items will be covered.

  • Print Layout versus Print Preview
  • Section Breaks and Page Breaks
  • Section Break Types
  • The location of Page One
  • Quick Summary

To simplify matters we use the CreateSpace Interior Templates. More specifically the 6×9 Inch Formatted template, which contains a formatted look-and-feel to drop-in your manuscript.

Print Layout versus Print Preview

Microsoft Word will alter the way you view a document based on the viewing mode you are in. The two most basic modes for formatting your manuscript for print are the Print Layout and Draft Mode. You can switch from one mode to the other via your View Ribbon.

  • Draft Mode. Text and formatting remain however white space, headers and footers will disappear. This is great when creating content, but is poor at getting the document ready for print.
  • Print Layout. This mode will display the full page, including headers and footers.  This is ideal to finalise a novel before submitting to sites such as CreateSpace.


Print Layout will not display blank pages. If a page is completely blank due to an automated process, the page will not be shown and may be missed. This behaviour will be covered in more detail later.

From now on we are going to make use of Print Layout to see how changes apply to the page. However this view differs from the end-product and we need to be aware of this. For this tutorial a novel excerpt was used and is shown below under Print Layout. To showcase the differences, we concentrate on the title page.

002-Print-Layout-View.pngThis is where Print Preview comes into play. This feature allows us to see how the document would be sent to the printer. From the Ribbon click on File then click on Print, which brings up the Print Preview pane.

003-Print-Preview.pngLocation of the pages are different between modes. In Print Layout the cover page is located on the left, however in Print Preview it appears on the right. Which is correct?   CreateSpace features an Interior Reviewer, which agrees with Print Preview.

004-CreateSapce-Interior-View.pngSo why do we care? Well this tells us that Print Layout is not a true representation of the final prioduct. Understanding this when putting in the finishing touches changes will make life easier.


Print Preview is also an excellent way to confirm your document before submitting to CreateSpace. If you have a large novel which is full of images; you need to upload the document, wait for rendering and finally a sanity check before you preview. This process is slow and tedious compared to checking with Print Preview.

Section Breaks and Page Breaks

Breaks are typically inserted into a document to push content onto another page. Using breaks will produce a behaviour which is more reliable than using the Enter key to achieve the same. Typically using the Enter will break formatting when you change as font size, line spacing and so forth.

Both types of breaks can be inserted using under the Page Layout ribbon. However, the CTRL-ENTER key combination will insert a Page Break which eases content adjustment and distribution within chapters.

So what is the difference?

005-Page-Section-Breaks.pngMicrosoft Word gives us a brief description for all major types of breaks. They have included them below for convenience:

  • Page. Mark the point at which one page ends and the next page begins.
  • Column. Indicates that the text following the column break will begin in the next column.
  • Text Wrapping. Separate text around objects on web pages, such as caption text from body text.
  • Next Page. Insert a section break and start a new section on the next page.
  • Continuous. Insert a section break and start a new section on the same page.
  • Even Page. Insert a section break and start a new section on the next even-numbered page.
  • Odd Page. Insert a section break and start the new section on the next odd-numbered page

The above fails to address differences between Page Breaks and Section Breaks.  The core differences are outlined below:

  • Page Breaks. Pushes content onto next page or column without changing the formatting.
  • Section Breaks. Will permit you to adjust Headers, Footers, Page Layouts, Margins and so forth. Sections can also be Linked or Unlinked from previous sections, beware of this when finalising your document.

So Section Breaks permit you to do more, however they are not always useful. Section Breaks are an excellent way to break up major sections of a document. For the template every new chapter is preceded by a Section Break, which hides the Header for the first page of that section.

Within chapters themselves, Page Breaks are better suited. This reduces the chance of a break getting unlinked and create a formatting mess later.

Section Break Types

This may be news to some people, however Microsoft Word will lie to you when it comes to Section Breaks. When working on the interior of a novel, behaviours and assumptions for a given type of Section Break are not consistent.

Microsoft Word has also been known to change the type of break on your behalf and not display the type used. This behaviour will be outlined below.

006-Section-Break-Mismatch.pngWhen you view  formatting, you can see all of the Paragraph Marks () as well as Section Breaks. In the image above, we see that below the Title Page’s content there is a Section Break (Next Page).

Double-click on that break to open the Page Setup window. Note how the Section start is listed as Odd Page and not Next Page.  Changing the setting will generally not alter what is shown in the codes, making it difficult to visually troubleshoot odd behaviour.

Note how Microsoft Word is interpreting the Odd Page setting.

007-Section-Break-Odd-Not-Odd.pngBased on the definition previously found, Odd Page should have started the copyright on the odd page.  Yet the copyright is found on Page 2 as shown above.  This behaviour is not only inconsistent, it is aggravating!

To make things more interesting, change that Section Break to Even Page and see what happens.

008-Section-Break-Even-Breaks-Formatting.pngWhen we set the break to Odd Page the new page appeared on an even page. Now that we have set it to Even Page it still appears on an even page, but also forced the Title page to be on the Left vice the Right.  How will that play out when we submit the document to CreateSpace for printing?

009-CreateSpace-Preview.pngInterestingly enough the title page appears where it should. However, CreateSpace probably corrects for this behaviour to cut down on blank pages. Now Microsoft Word’s Print Preview no longer matches.

So what have we learned? Do not use of Odd or Even page Section Breaks. Instead use Next Page Section Breaks and double up if need be. Next page for the most part will generate a consistent behaviour, albeit not in all circumstances.

The Location of Page One

One thing that can be frustrating is the location of every Page 1 in a document. Microsoft Word will force Page 1 to be on the Right side, no matter how much the user attempts to push it onto the Left.

You can specify Odd Page, Even Page, Next Page or use Page Breaks to force it to go to where you want. Microsoft Word will add in blank pages to counteract your attempts. This behaviour will also apply every time you reset the page numbering to One for a new Section.

010-One-Page-Reality.pngFrom the above image, we can tell that CONTENTS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS follow one another in Print Layout with no blank pages in between. We know this because the Section Breaks have been explicitly set to New Page. Note that the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS page is a new section and is set to Page 1 shown in lowercase Roman numerals.

Since we know that CONTENTS appears on the Left side, we would realistically expect ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to be on the Right side.  Let’s take a look at the Print Preview.

011-One-Page-Blank-Inserted.pngNow we have a blank page that has been inserted between CONTENTS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. What if we wanted ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to appear on the Right? Let us try setting to the Section Break to Odd Page and see what happens.


013-One-Page-8-9.pngMicrosoft Word has changed the location of CONTENTS to appear on the Left alongside ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. Not only is CONTENTS no longer on the Right, but the program has even inserted two blank pages for no reason.

This type of behaviour will occur when a section starts on Page 1. If you insist on having a section start on the Left side, then it cannot be Page 1. So how do we manage page numbers for sections?

From the Ribbon click on Insert then find the Page Number drop down. Select Format Page Numbers to adjust settings for the section you are currently on.

014-Page-Number-Format.pngA new Page Number Format window will appear. You can set it so the page number is taken from the previous section, or set it to a new number. If you wanted ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to appear on the Left then renumbering to Page 2 would resolve the formatting issue.

015-Page-Number-Format-Window.pngYou can also adjust the Number Format. For our Internal Design, we removed the Roman numerals and had ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS start at Page 1. This enabled us to have the PROLOGUE start on the Left side.

Now to highlight the trouble with page numbers being reset, here is what happens when the chapter BOOKWORM is accidentally reset to Page 1.


There should be no blank page, however Microsoft Word added it for us. Since Microsoft Word will copy from the previous section when adding new Section Breaks, every chapter after BOOKWORM would be reset to Page 1 and format the same way.

Pay attention to your formatting before you paste in your entire manuscript!

Quick Summary

In summary, when working with a document formatted to for a printed novel using Microsoft Word there may be unexpected behaviour. To simplify matters here are a few basic rules to follow:

  • Appropriate Breaks. Use Page Breaks in chapters and Section Breaks to break apart chapters and other sections of the novel. Too many section breaks can make fine-tuning a nightmare.
  • Next Page Please. To make your life easier, just use Section Breaks Next Page since their behaviour is the most consistent. Odd and Even Page Breaks do not always do what you think they should do, so if you want a blank page insert two consecutive Section Breaks Next Page.
  • Confirm with Print Preview. The Print Preview capability will allow you to quickly see where errors in formatting are located. Since Print Layout will not display blank pages, Print Preview is where you catch those faults.
  • Do Not Trust What you See. Microsoft Word will not always show you what is happening. Blank pages will not be shown in Print Layout and when viewing formatting codes you may encounter a Section Break (Next Page) which is anything but. Sticking to basics will make sure you do not get unpleasant surprises.
  • Page 1 Placement. No matter how much you want Page 1 to appear on the Left side (as viewed from Print Preview) that will not happen. Accept it and move on.