I’ve recently been experimenting with publishing on Createspace and quickly discovered the frustration of trying to get my manuscript out of Word and into Createspace without any formatting errors.

I finally managed to get a document prepared that did not trigger any errors so I thought I’d better document what I did so I don’t forget myself… plus it might be useful to anyone else that’s struggling.

My target book format was 6″ x 9″ so my instructions are specifically for that size. I can’t guarantee that what I did will work for larger or smaller books. Bear in mind, I’m not guaranteeing anything – you might need to tweak your Word document to suit your aims.

Document set up

  1. If you’re using a Mac, make sure you go into System Preferences (the Mac’s settings, not Word’s) and set the measurement units to inches. If you don’t, you’re going to get very frustrated when setting up the document size in Word.
  2. Setting the custom page size for the word documentIn Word, go to File > Page Setup and create a custom size document. If you’re going to use a full bleed background image, you’ll need to set it to 6.125″ x 9.25″. If you’re not then just set the width and height to 6″ and 9″ respectively.Set the Non-Printable Area to User Defined and set 0 for each of the dimensions (so your image flows to the edges of the page).
  3. Once you’ve done the Page Setup, you’ll need to make sure that the margins are right and set up your header and footer.Margins
    Click the Layout tab and select Margins. Choose Custom Margins down at the bottom of the list and set all the margins to 0.5″. Set Gutter to 0 (this contradicts a lot of the advice that I read online, by the way). Set Multiple Pages to Mirror Margins (not that it matters too much in this set up). Make sure Apply To is set to Whole Document.Header & Footer
    Still in the Custom Margins dialog box, click the Layout tab at the top. Make sure Different Odd and Even is selected and set the Header to 0.75″ and the Footer to 0.4″.Setting the custom marginsSetting the heading and footer sizes in Custom Margins

Using a page background

  1. Using watermark to set the page backgroundIf you want to use a page background, you’ll need to have set the page size to 6.125″ x 9.25″.
  2. Prepare your background in whatever design / graphics application you like to use and make sure the document is set the page size I just mentioned and that you use 300 dpi.
  3. Export the image to a suitable format. I used 24-bit PNG.
  4. Click the Design tab and click Watermark.
  5. Select Picture, upload your picture and set the scale to 60%.
  6. Make sure Washout is not checked unless you want your background image to be barely visible.

Exporting the document

I just used File > Print and Save to PDF to get my document out as a PDF file but I’m using a Mac. Windows users may need to do some extra bits. I don’t know as I’ve not tried it yet (when I do, I’ll update this post).

Importing the document on Createspace

Make sure that you’ve selected 6″x 9″ as the book size.

Upload your PDF and select the appropriate option for the bleed. If you use a page background select the option for bleed extending beyond the margins. Otherwise select the other one.

Conclusion & extra tips

Figuring out all these different settings took me the best part of two days. Createspace takes 24 hours to review your book settings to make sure everything’s as it should be – so if you get it wrong and need to re-submit it, that’s another 24 hours.

Use the interior content review tool

Save yourself some time by using the interior content review tool. This enables you to upload your interior PDF and have it automatically scanned for errors.

Use this link to create your book with this feature enabled (hint: Expert mode doesn’t offer it):


Check your cover title matches your book title

Make sure, when you create the image for your cover, that the title matches what you entered when setting up your book. This IS checked during the review process and I had a submission rejected because I thought I’d use something shorter because it looked nice.

Don’t forget – you can use a short book title and add extra detail to it by using the sub-title field. You don’t need to put the sub-title on the cover if you don’t want to.

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