Format novel documents in a standard style for sharing and submission.
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format-novel formats an existing Word novel document in a standard style for sharing and submission. You might find this useful if you're producing your novel document programmatically with another tool like ebook-convert and want to add automatic formatting to your your writing workflow.

Example usage:

$ format-novel manuscript.docx

This assumes the document already contains a single title page. It applies the following formatting, modifying the file in-place:

  • apply double spacing
  • indent the first line of each paragraph (0.5 inches) except for the initial paragraph in a chapter or section
  • remove vertical spacing between paragraphs
  • set a default font of Times New Roman
  • enable page numbering starting on the second page (upper right) or the first page if filtering by chapter

Chapter excerpting

You can optionally filter the output to only include certain chapters by number. For instance:

$ format-novel manuscript.docx --chapters 5 6 7

This will only include chapters 5, 6, and 7 in the output file, excluding all other chapters. For this to work, the input document must indicate chapter titles with the "Heading 2" style.

Planned features

  • Support for specifying author and project title to show up in the header alongside page number.


Start by cloning the project with git. Then install it with Python's pip. Example:

pip3 install /path/to/format-novel


format-novel takes a single argument: The path to your novel file in Word .docx format. For instance:

format-novel /path/to/your/novel.docx


format-novel is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3 or any later version.

If you'd like to contribute to development, please feel free to submit a Pull Request or open an issue first to discuss your idea.

Source code

To get set up to hack on format-novel, first clone master via HTTPS or SSH:

git clone


git clone ssh://

Then, install format-novel "editable" so that you can run format-novel commands while you're hacking on them to make sure your changes work.

cd format-novel/
pip3 install --editable --user .

Note that this will typically install the format-novel commands into ~/.local/bin, which may or may not be on your PATH. There are other ways to install format-novel editable as well, for instance into the system Python install (so without --user, as root), or even into a virtualenv. How or where you install format-novel is up to you, but generally an editable install makes development and testing easier.

Automated tests

Assuming you've cloned the format-novel source code as described above, and you're in the format-novel/ working copy, install tox, which is used for setting up testing environments:

pip3 install --user tox

Finally, to actually run tests, run:

cd format-novel

Code formatting

format-novel code uses the Black code formatter, the Flake8 code checker, and the isort import orderer, so certain code style requirements will be enforced when running automated tests. See the Black, Flake8, and isort documentation for more information.

If when running tests, you get an error from the Black code formatter about files that would be reformatted, you can ask Black to format them for you via the following:

tox -e black

And if you get a complaint from the isort Python import orderer, you can ask isort to order your imports for you:

tox -e isort

Continuous integration

Each pull request triggers a continuous integration build which runs the test suite. You can view these builds on, and they're also linked from the commits list on each pull request.

Build Status