Neal R. Wagner


    This page is designed for someone who wants to use Latex to produce a book in CreateSpace. At the end I give a complete working Latex example of what could be submitted to CreateSpace.

    CreateSpace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon. The link on this line has lots of information to help a prospective author use their service. The whole process is well organized, so that an amateur can get a book published on Amazon. The process is free, assuming certain technical skills. For authors without these skills, they will often supply help for free, and give more significant help for a fee. They have a "satisfaction guaranteed" policy.

    Their system assumes that the text of the proposed book is prepared using Microsoft Word. This isn't at all a requirement, but the only templates they provide are in Word. The final product has to be a PDF file meeting their very strict requirements. A number of different fancier desktop publishing systems could be used instead. This page assumes you want to use Latex as your "fancier desktop publishing system".


    Latex is a high-end publishing system used by most mathematicians, and by many people from other technical fields such as science and engineering. Latex does a very good job of handling mathematical equations.

    Latex has a steep learning curve, so that you should only consider it if you are already (at least somewhat) familiar with the system. In that case, I am giving here a complete example for using Latex to create a PDF file that should be acceptable to CreateSpace. By modifying and adding to the example, it becomes sort of a "template"

Disclaimers and Comments

  • If you are not familiar with Latex, I again urge you to consider using Word, or (much better) use one of the good desktop publishing products on the market.

  • If you are a beginner with Latex, you would be well-served to have access to a Latex "Guru".

  • I myself am no Latex expert, and I have only learned enough to produce the documents I wanted. The Latex code below is fairly straightforward.

  • The Latex given below is not warranted in any way, against any kind of errors. The files below worked for me on my Latex system and should work for you.

  • The example below is a much simplified version of the Latex I used to produce a book successfully for CreateSpace. (Okay, here's the book: WWW: The End of Time. You should buy it -- a good read.) But I didn't submit the simplified version discussed here to CreateSpace, so you should use it at your own risk.

  • Andrzej Giniewicz has written a "createspace" Latex package that (to quote him): "supports (I hope) all requirements and recommendations for books":

    I haven't tried out this package, but apparently some people have used it successfully.

  • If you use my template and have trouble with the Latex as you try to get a complete book written, I won't be able to help you debug your Latex. (Hey, I have a lot of trouble getting my own Latex to work, and I made a number of mistakes in the simple material below before I was done. This is where you need a guru.)

Getting started with CreateSpace

    The main web page for CreateSpace will lead you through the process:

  • You have to start up a book project, with a title.

  • As the first step they assign you an ISBN number (they pay for it).

  • Note: it's possible to use your own ISBN number and your own "Imprint" (basically the name of a "publisher"). If you do this, your book won't say "CreateSpace" on the title page and many people won't realize that you published through Amazon. If you choose this route, it costs a small amount of money. You can find out how to do this online, but not from Createspace.

  • The next important step is to choose the size of the book's pages (20 or so sizes available), and the size of the margins (some leeway, within limits).

    For my book I chose: width=5.25, height=8 (Everything is in inches.)

    This is next to smallest size. (Smallest is 5 by 8, but I thought a little wider was better.)

    For margins I chose: top=1, bottom=0.625, right=0.625, left=0.875.
    That's for odd-numbered pages; even pages reverse left and right. They give you minimum sizes for margins -- I didn't push the minimum.

    Notice that the margin left=0.875 is larger than the right=0.625 margin. This is needed because the left margin (odd page, or the right margin, even page) is in the "crack" between two pages when the book is opened up. I had nothing in any of my bottom margins, and in that case I thought letting right equal bottom gave a pleasing appearance at the lower right corner of odd pages.

  • The appearance of the final book is critically dependent on the size, margins, fontsize, and line spacing. They encourage you to get the actual proof copy of the book. This was good advice for me. I looked at pages on the screen exactly the size of the printed page, but still the actual book looked dramatically different from what I expected. I used "cream" instead of "white" paper, which I think looks better for a novel.

Latex to produce PDF for the text of a simple book
  • Normally, Latex uses only "standard" sizes, and until I dug around in my Latex manual, I didn't know how to specify arbitrary page sizes. One method I found uses the geometry package. The Latex code to get the size and margins mentioned above can start with:


    This determines the "odd right = even left" and vice versa. The geometry package is very complicated, but this is all you need to use.

  • Here is the final PDF for my simple example "book": tenure.pdf

  • The Latex source is in four files (Note: these are in HTML just so they will be easily readable in any browser. Because these files don't include the character '<', or a character '&' followed by a non-space, the only HTML code is "<pre>" at the beginning and "</pre>" at the end. Links to the actual files are at the right.):

  • Here are possible commands to use in a simple Latex system (old-fashioned, without a fancy front end -- what I used). "%" stands for the system prompt:

      % latex tenure
      % dvips tenure -o
      % ps2pdf

    There are a number of Latex development systems you could use instead.

Producing a PDF file for the cover

    The cover has to be a single PDF file satisfying exact measurements. This is a single page giving the back cover, the spine, and the front cover. The result is wrapped around the book

    The edges must be 0.125 inches larger to allow for the trimming cut. There is a complex formula for the size of the spine based on the number of pages and the type of paper.

    It would be possible to use Latex for the cover. The cover should have illustrations and other fancy-looking text for which Latex is not ideally suited, so you would end up with a fairly simple cover. You could also consider using some "draw" program, perhaps an Adobe application.

    CreateSpace will do up a simple cover for you for $200, or a fancier one for $400. They will help you with your own PDF.

(Revision date: 2016-05-14. Please use ISO 8601, the International Standard.)