Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu. Part3: Sections

Tip#5 Sections

We’ve seen a lot about sections in the past few tips, but let’s finish the job in this tip. In these tips, we’re looking at using Microsoft Word to layout books to send to a printer, such as Createspace. In that context there’s really only two reasons for using sections:

  1. To allow us to set headers and footers
  2. To auto-generate blank pages if we want chapters or parts to begin on an odd-numbered page.

In other words, we need to put in sections to make possible the book layout plan we’ve been looking at in previous tips.

Before we jump in and start creating sections, I’ll add two more things:

  • Smashwords — you might also want eBook editions of your book published through Smashwords. Current Smashwords guidelines say you shouldn’t use section breaks; I’ve just told you that you must use section breaks. At the end of this tip, I’ll give some Smashwords-specific tips.
  • Changing margins — Word does give you the option to choose different margins for each section. I would avoid doing that for book layouts for reasons of simplicity and robustness. If you really wanted to play with a variable margins then that’s up to you. The Createspace interior reviewer is supposed to fix margin errors, so hopefully it won’t let you stray too far.

What’s a section?

Sections are a way of breaking your document into parts, well… okay, sections. There are two things you need to know:

  1. Each section can be given its own value for a set of attributes. Of interest to us are: header & footer definition, section start property (whether the section has to start on a facing page), page number format, and the page number to start counting from.
  2. We can set the first page of the section to have a different header/footer, and we can force the first page of the section to start on a facing (odd-numbered) page. According to the book layout approach we’re following, that means we need to start a new section for every part and for every chapter.

To insert a break in Word 2007, you can do so through the ribbon as follows:

Here I’ve selected the section break that corresponds to the odd page section start. We use this to begin a new part or new chapter on a facing (odd) page, telling Word to insert a blank page if it needs to.

Let’s suppose you are at the end of part 2 of your book and want to start on part 3. On the last page of part 2, insert a odd page section break and then add your part 3 title text to the next page. With Word 2007 and earlier, you won’t see any blank pages until you print them or (very important, this) you create the pdf. Don’t forget to test your pdf to check blank pages are inserted at the right point.

If, on the other hand, you are coming up to a new chapter, but you don’t want to force it to begin on a facing page, then you insert a section break with a next page section start.

If you have an older version of Word, or you want a faster way to insert breaks quickly, you can use the keyboard shortcut ‘ALT+I’ , followed by ‘B’.

This dialog does exactly the same as the ribbon dialog.

Have a play creating section breaks with a backed-up document. Then bring up the Page Layout | Page Setup dialog we saw in earlier tips:

All the settings on all the tabs of this dialog are properties of each section. You can set different values for each section if you wanted to. But you don’t want to, so don’t do it.

Pay close attention to the section start value in this dialog. This setting tells you the type of section break between the preceding section and the current one. So, if you are in section 2, and the Page Setup dialog says: Section start: Odd page, then that means the break between sections 1 and 2 is of the odd page type. The Page Setup dialog tells you nothing about any section breaks between this section and the next one.

I’ve come across confusing behavior with section break types where you already have sections defined, and you subsequently try to change the section type. In my case I tried deleting a section break in print layout view and then adding a new one of a different type. My change reverted back to the old section type when I’m not looking. Most mysterious!

If that happens, look at the section start settings. Your inserted section break will probably be reverting to the section start value of the following section, in which case change the setting in the Page Setup dialog first, and then insert your section break.

There’s some general guidance from Microsoft on sections here.

Smashwords, Kindle editions, ePub and section breaks

This only applies if you want to create eBooks, especially if you upload a Word doc to Smashwords. The Smashwords style guide (which you would be wise to follow) says you shouldn’t use section breaks. I’ve told you that you must use section breaks for the print layout, and if you are creating a Kindle edition yourself, that accepts section breaks with no problem.

When I create books, I often create a Kindle, ePub, Smashwords, and print edition. My approach is to keep to a single version for as long as possible and then break out into giving each version its tweaks at the last moment. (Using Style Sets makes this much easier… see a later tip).

So for a more general approach for managing multi-edition documents, here’s what I do

Write, tidy, edit your document in print layout as you go. Keep in that format as long as possible.

If, like me, you do editing on a Kindle or other eReader, it is simple to swap to a different style set (see later tip) and then create the ebook for your own purpose. Section breaks and headers/ footers won’t be a problem at this stage.

When you get to finalize your Smashwords doc, take these additional steps:

  • First, remove all section breaks. Use the find and replace dialog (see screenshot below). Use the ‘Special’ button to Find ‘Section Break’ and replace with ‘Manual Page Break. It really is as simple as that. [Note that this only works one way. You cannot automatically find page breaks and replace with section breaks.]
  • Remove all headers and footers. Do this after removing all the sections. Make sure you remove all the headers and all the footers. Don’t be caught out by that different first page footer you’d forgotten about. If you leave any footers in, you won’t get into the Smashwords Premium Catalog.


Next time, we’ll see a little more about page numbers before looking at styles and style sheets.

Click here to read the previous post in this series and here for the next post about page numbers.

This post is an extract from the book Format YOUR Print Book with Createspace, available in paperback (US only)

 $5.99 at | $5.99 at

and as a Kindle eBook  $2.99 –  | £2.00 –

About Tim C. Taylor

Tim C. Taylor writes science fiction and is the author of 21 published novels as of August 2021. His latest book is 'Hold the Line', published by Theogony Books. Find out more at
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4 Responses to Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu. Part3: Sections

  1. Betsi Newbury says:

    Hi Tim,
    First of all, thanks a million for Format your Print Book with Createspace! I initially bought the e-book version but became very frustrated because I always found I had to tab back and forth between your book and the one I was formatting to ensure I was following your instructions properly. So, I bought the print version of the 2nd Edition and have been able to highlight and follow much more easily! (I am old-school when it comes to documentation … love that highlighter and paper clips!)

    My question is with, surprise … surprise, section breaks. I have set up the book I am formatting with first, odd-page, and even-page section breaks. There are 57 chapters in the book and for all but four of those chapters the headers and footers work beautifully. However, for those four chapters the previous chapter ends on an odd-numbered page which means the following even-numbered page should be blank. Instead, the even-numbered page includes the even-page section break header and footer. The really frustrating thing though is that in Word and in PDF formats everything looks correct. It is wrong only in Createspace.

    I have deleted the ending paragraph and page breaks, and then put them back and uploaded again to CS, but still the same thing.

    Any hints?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Pingback: Adventures in typesetting: poetry book layouts and printer’s ornaments | Tim C. Taylor

  3. Pingback: Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu: Part4 Page Numbers | Tim C. Taylor

  4. Pingback: Tips on formatting your print book for Createspace and Lulu. Part2: Headers & Footers | Tim C. Taylor

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