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When Formatting Books with Microsoft Word …


Although it’s not the kind of thing I regularly post about, I thought I would mention a tip for formatting books for POD (print on demand) books–or really, for anything meant for publishing as a book or magazine–in Microsoft Word: there’s a very obscure formatting setting called “Widow/orphan control” that can make the bottoms of your pages uneven. This doesn’t usually¬†matter for manuscripts or anything else that isn’t going to be printed in many copies¬†and bound.

Widow/orphan control is turned on by default, at least in some versions of Word, and makes it so that if the first line of a paragraph falls at the end of a page, it’s bumped to the next page. The result is that the bottoms of pages look uneven, but paragraphs are kept together more of the time. Under normal circumstances, this isn’t important, but if you want the bottoms of your pages even, you’ll have to format your text or styles with Widow/orphan control turned off.

I use an old version of Word, so this may not apply in the same way to yours, but in mine this option is found by selecting Paragraph from the Format menu and clicking on the “Line and Page Breaks” tab. You’ll see a check mark next to this option: click to turn it off, then click the OK button.

You can turn this off by default by modifying your “Normal” template, but doing that is getting into more detail than is really appropriate for this blog.

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