How to Format Your Paperback’s Title Page

When formatting your paperback for self-publishing, you’ll start with the title page.

Let’s start, though, with a quick tip: When formatting, looking at it like it is a book you’re holding in your hands helps make the process easier to visualize, so adjust the view to just show two pages. You can do that by clicking “View” at the ribbon atop your screen. Next, click “Multiple Pages” in the center of the ribbon. You’ll then have to zoom in on the screen so that just two pages show. I find 90% on the zoom slide bar works best as you still can read the text on your screen.

The first page you need to make in your paperback manuscript is a blank page that appears on the left side. This page is merely a placeholder to help ensure that what’s on the screen resembles a paperback. It’ll prove helpful when you place page numbers and chapter titles. You’ll later have to take it out, but for now let’s put it in.

The second page – or the page on the right side of the screen – is the title page. It’s also known as the “bastard title.”

You’ll want to place these three elements on the title page:

  • Title – The title of your book should appear in a large font on your page.
  • Byline – Below it should be the author’s name is a font size that is a third to a half of that used by for the title.
  • Publisher – The publisher’s name as well as the city and state where the publisher is headquartered should appear in a font size that is a third to a half of that used for the byline.

If you’re self-publishing, you may not have a “publisher.” Whoever owns the book’s ISBN is the publisher. Many self-published authors didn’t create a company to purchase the ISBN, however, but just bought it in their name. Using your name as the publisher when it already appears in the byline will look strange to most readers. If that’s your situation, dispense with listing the publisher.

The title page is a holdover from the 1800s. Back then, unbound books were delivered from the printer to a bookbinder, usually in a separate building, so the printer typically added a blank page on top of the book to protect the copyright page; later, printers began to print just the title on that blank page so the bookbinder could more easily identify the unbound book. Though unnecessary with today’s printing technology, most books retain the title page because the copyright page is full of lots of dull but legally necessary information and so is a bit unsightly as the first page of a book that a reader would open to.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.