How to Format a Book When Making a Math Textbook: Definitive Formatting Dos and Don’ts

Formatting a textbook for publication isn’t as hard as you would think – and this is great news if you’re thinking about being a self published author through platforms like Reedsy, Amazon KDP or Lulu. 

book for publication isn’t as hard as you would think – and this is great news if you’re thinking about being a self published author through platforms like Reedsy, Amazon KDP or Lulu. 

Self publication means that you have to handle things like sourcing cover art and formatting the book yourself, but self publication also means that you have total control over these elements and retain the rights to your work. 

Here are a few definitive formatting dont’s that can help to make the formatting process easier if you’ve never done it before. 

Don’t Use Copyrighted Images

Choosing your cover art is one of the first essential parts of formatting your book. There are many great sites out there that allow you to  purchase cover art directly from their creators, and there are many other great websites that will allow you to buy copyright-free images to use specifically for cover art. 

Never use copyrighted images for published work: This can only turn into issues and potential lawsuits for the author later down the line. 

Don’t Get Fancy with Fonts

IF there’s one thing that formatting software, conversion software and any e-book reader (and for that matter book printer) doesn’t like, it’s fancy fonts. Even though it might seem like using a fancy font is a great or catchy idea, odds are that it won’t display right when your formatted book makes it to a published one. 

Skip fancy fonts and check the guidelines for which fonts are deemed acceptable.

Don’t Skim Over Formatting Guidelines 

Each self publishing company has their own individual formatting guidelines. It’s always a good idea to check the formatting guidelines before you approach the process at all. Some things might differ from one publishing company to the next – and you’re likely to experience issues with formatting or publication just because there’s something small you might have missed. Always read them thoroughly and consult the guidelines for anything where you aren’t sure. 

Don’t Publish Without an ISBN

ISBN numbers are the identification numbers for print books and e-books and there’s good reason why you shouldn’t ever publish your book without one. Sometimes they can be ordered in bulk, other times you can order an ISBN number individually – but this can be more expensive. Most self publishing companies also offer the option of purchasing an ISBN number through them, which can save you time – but also means that your book gets listed as “Published by (Company).” 

Remember that print books and e-books (as well as all subsequent editions thereof) will have to contain separate ISBN numbers, which is why a lot of authors just buy them in bulk and get it over with. 

Don’t Publish Until You’re Ready

Just because self publishing gives an author the ability to publish something almost instantly doesn’t always mean that’s a great idea. If you aren’t sure whether your manuscript is ready for formatting, print and the enjoyment of your readers, it’s not ready to publish. 

Many self published manuscripts out there could have used the services of a proofreader: If you aren’t completely confident that you’re happy with the end-product, consider hiring a proofreader to make sure your manuscript is print perfect before uploading to your chosen self publishing platform. 

Don’t Skip the Proof Copy

Self publishing companies usually give you  the  option of ordering a proof copy, whether print or e-book. This is always a good idea: Even traditional publishers will print a few proof copies to check the formatting (and whether everything was done the way it should be). 

Always order a proof copy. Any formatting issues that might arise in the final version of the book will be seen (and can be fixed) here.