You can adjust the style of your headings just as you did with the Normal setting – highlight the text you want as your heading – like Chapter One - click on Heading 1 (for example), then set the font and centering as you want it and right-click to on the heading 1 box to ‘Update heading 1 to match selection’. Bazinga! All subsequent chapter headings will follow suit.
A note about centering items on a page – DO NOT TAB OR SPACEBAR them across to the middle! That way madness lies. Use the centre-justify button on the toolbar. You’d normally use centred text for your title, possibly your dedication page or a quote at the front of the book, and those little do-dads you put in to show breaks in the narrative – either a line of asterisks or suchlike. Handy hint – call your row of asterisks Heading 4 and update the style to centre (making sure the first line indent is at the margin for that line.) Then make all your asterisks Heading 4 and they’ll stay centred even if you alter the page size or make other changes. Heading 4 means they won’t show up in your Table of Contents, which only goes to Headings 1,2 and 3.
To see all your chapter headings, use the ‘Find’ function. When you click ‘Find’ and select the first icon in the navigation panel on the left, your heading will show up.
This is invaluable for spotting where you’ve got two Chapter 7s, or gone from Chapter 7 (numeral) to Chapter Eight (word). It also provides instant access to every heading in your document which makes finding your way through the text much easier. Click on a heading in the side panel and you’ll be taken to that place in the text.
Make sure your chapter heading spacing is consistent – for example two spaces down from the top of the page, then the header, then two spaces before the text – whatever you select it doesn’t matter as long as all chapters are the same. It’s helpful to write a style sheet noting your fonts, chapter header styles and spacings to refer to when you are deep in the text adjusting things. Whizzing down the headers on the left makes it easy to check each one and adjust if needed. When you reach the end of a chapter, insert a page break. Top toolbar, insert tab, page break. DO NOT HIT THE RETURN KEY over and over to get to a new page! Then type your next chapter heading on the fresh page, highlight it, and click Heading 1. (Or whichever style you selected.)
These steps will make doing your book layout much easier.
When you’re ready to do your Contents page later, go to the appropriate place near the start of your document where you want the contents page to be, then click on References on the top toolbar, and Table of Contents should appear. Try clicking on Automatic table 1 and Word will create a table of all your headings on the left end of the references toolbar. (When I first discovered this I was giddy with excitement. It saves HOURS of laboriously adjusting page numbers.) You’ll need to update the table if you make changes in your book. That function is in the References tab on the top toolbar, next to the Table of Contents tab.
Now, if you have an existing Word doc that you’ve been fiddling about with for years, with tabs and Track Changes and weird formatting all through it, there is a way to clear it all up. Mark Coker of Smashwords calls this The Nuclear Solution because it’s quite drastic, but if you ever plan to upload your book as an ebook this is worth doing. Copy and paste your entire document into a program like Notepad which comes as standard on most PCs. The simplest text-only program you have should do the job, and it’ll clear almost everything except your paragraph returns. Copy the entire text that you just put in Notepad and open a NEW Word doc to paste it back into. Hey presto – a clean, fresh file that you can now apply just the formatting you want to. Chapter headings, bold, italics, all that sort of thing. The clean file will upload as an ebook much more successfully and you won’t find patches of undersized text or overlapping lines which can drive you demented when they show up in your Kindle file!
Any questions? See me after class, or grab a copy of A Reassuring Guide to Self Publishing to get a step-by-step explanation.
If there are any topics you’d like me to cover in later blog posts, let me know in the comments or drop by and say hi on Facebook.