How To Use Scrivener to Format a Createspace PDF Interior for Publication

So you’ve written your masterpiece and you want to publish to Amazon Createspace because you just can’t stand another rejection notice and want to see it in print, or you want your friends to buy the book so you can have the satisfaction of becoming a published author.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as I have done the same thing.  However, given Createspace’s stringent guidelines for the way a pdf should be formatted, you may be finding yourself struggling with upload after upload only to find that each one has been sadly rejected due to random pesky format issues.

The following steps entail the method I used to combat this problem and finally publish my book to Createspace without any hiccups:

1.  I bought Scrivener for $49.  This is the greatest word processing program known to man, in my opinion.  I will save the ins and outs and the many benefits of the program for a later post, but I will simply say that when it comes to formatting your work for any medium at all, Scrivener has all of them beat.  Get this program, import your masterpiece into it and then learn how to use it.  There are many video tutorials on the website and within the program itself to help you manage your document.

2.  Once you have written your document and have edited it thoroughly, printed proofs for proofreaders to edit thoroughly, etc., you are ready to “compile” the document.  Go to “File” and then “Compile”.

3.  Next, you will find yourself at the handy-dandy compile screen.  Since you are publishing to Createspace, you will need to select “paperback novel” as a preset in “Formatting” as shown.  This will set up your document for printing to a Createspace formatted pdf.

4. Next you will need to determine the paper size or trim size and this is selected in the Createspace setup screen on their website before hand where you tell Createspace what size book you want.   Tell Scrivener what your trim size is as pictured below.  You can customize the trim size as well.  It is found in Page Settings –> Page Setup –> Page Attributes.  You can also play around with the margins to get them down to where Createspace desires them to be.

5.  Next choose the front matter that will go into your document.  This is the title page, the copyright page, any dedications, etc.  It is found at the bottom of the screen as pictured.

6.  Now out beside “Compile as” select “compile to print” so that you can see what it will look like before you create a file.  Once you do, you can click left and right and view the file as a pdf before saving as a pdf.  When you save as a pdf, it will embed all fonts as well.

When I uploaded my pdf to Createspace using this method, I did not have any errors.  It is my hope that by following these simple steps, you will be able to publish to Createspace with ease.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

27 thoughts on “How To Use Scrivener to Format a Createspace PDF Interior for Publication

  1. I formatted two ebooks using Scrivener and it was easy enough. Did it on a MacBook Air too. Take a look at the help forum on, the Scrivener website – helpful, nice people there and they know their program.

  2. I have my book pretty much formatted except for page numbers and I am having problems with trying to compile etc. I think it is because my Mac airbook is limited. I am looking for someone to hire to do the last steps to up load to creativespace.

  3. This is really helpful. I always wondered about Scrivener. I think this hack alone makes it worth the price. I have published several paperbacks (a novel and some nonfiction under a different name) with CreateSpace. The first attempt to format was a bear; it took many tedious hours. I am now pretty good at it using Word, but think I will try Scrivener to increase efficiency.

    Awesome post!

  4. Can you import a Word manuscript into Scrivener? I’m a Mac guy and hate using word but now I’m stuck and don’t want to reformat.

    1. Mac writers should get OPEN OFFICE – it’s FREE and it is much better than Word when it comes to reformatting page sizes, making PDFs with all the sections retained in one PDF file etc. It also has screenplay and other templates available for free, and exports in other formats. The BEST writing program for Mac today.

  5. Not working for me. Scrivener’s set to millimetres, and every time I try to enter. “5.06 in” it switches back to “5.06 mm”.

  6. Thanks for the info Roger! I’ve had Scrivener for awhile, but never noticed the “Front Matter” check box in the compile. Now I’m using that and love not having my front matter in my “Draft” folder. Duh! 🙂

    And thanks for the reassurances about trouble-free publishing on CreateSpace from using Scrivener. I had it in my head that a $49 piece of software would somehow NOT function flawlessly. But Scrivener pretty much does. 🙂

    Thanks for the post. It inspired me to upload my manuscript to CreateSpace last night!


  7. I’ve been using Scrivener for about a year now and it continues to delight. It is well worth the investment of time to learn all its features. I plan to use it to self publish one of my novels.

  8. I am always skeptical of something that sounds so “easy” in the beginning. However, you have made me want to give this a try. I was going to pay $379 to Createspace to format the interior of my novel. Now I wonder if I shouldn’t try the $49 version (Scrivener) and see if I can do it myself. How long did it take you to complete the format? Thanks for posting this, and for checking out my blog!

    1. Completing the format is as easy as pie. Simply follow my instructions and you should be golden. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck!

    1. Self-publishing is the way to go. Besides doing your own marketing through Facebook, Twitter, etc., I have found it to be the most rewarding experience.

  9. Scrivener’s Compile feature is far from simple, but it’s well worth learning. You used it to create a PDF interior for printing a CreateSpace book. It can use Amazon’s own command-line app to create a mobi book for Kindles. It’ll also create an EPUB for B&N, as well as a Word document for exporting your text to InDesign or Apple’s new iBooks Author app. For those of you looking for a publisher, it’ll create a properly formatted draft manuscript for submission. For those who’re scriptwriters, it’ll export what you’ve written to popular scriptwriting software. It is VERY versatile. Don’t think of it as a Swiss Army knife for writers. Think of it as one of those four-foot-high, multiple drawer tool chests filled with hundreds of tools of all sorts.

    And it does all this while compiling for export. Your original manuscript remains in the form you like best for writing.

    So it’s no accident that writers rave about Scrivener. There’s a full-featured version for Macs and a soon-to-be full-featured version for Windows. The fact that the Scrivener team now has someone developing an iPad version has me thinking about getting an iPad.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

  10. I purchased Scrivener about a week ago with a coupon from NaNoWriMo for $20. I’m happy I did! I completed the introduction to learn my way around. You have answered some questions that is sure to make the process easy. Thank you!

  11. Useful and informative, thanks. I have just purchased Scrivener and transferred my novel onto it in order to tidy it up. Your post has just answered a few questions for me, thanks again.

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