Maybe everybody else figured this out years ago, but I’m passing it along in case other self-publishing writers are still stumped….
I write in Microsoft Word. Specifically, I use Word 2003, which is the last version of Word prior to the introduction of both the ponderous ribbon interface and the defaulting of all MS Office docs to the web-happy in-house .docx file format. (When Office 2007 debuted I decided I was done learning new productivity tools, particularly when the people making those tools were repeatedly and unrepentantly inclined to radical and proprietary changes that did not benefit my productivity. See also Windows 8.)
When you format a document for printing as a book, the first page of your document will become the page of your book that appears on the right-hand side when the cover is opened. Thereafter, all left-hand pages will be even-numbered, all right-hand pages odd-numbered. When previewing your book in Word, then, what you want to see is the first right-hand, odd-numbered page all alone on the right side of the screen, followed by pairs of left-and-right-hand pages showing the correct pagination and formatting (particular the gutter margin) as you scroll through the document.
In Word 2003 there are five different view modes available under the View menu — Normal, Web Layout, Print Layout, Reading Layout and Outline — and not one of those views will give you what you’re looking for. Normal view only shows one page at a time, inline. Web Layout shows the entire doc as an endless scroll. Print Layout will show two side-by-side pages, or more if you zoom out, but the first odd page will always be on the left when it should be on the right. Reading Layout, which does show two pages side-by-side, like a book, also incorrectly puts the first right-hand page on the left. And of course Outline view shows the entire document as a single-page outline.
Way back when I formatted my short story collection, the only way I could figure out how to force Word to display the first right-hand page on the right side of the screen was to add a dummy page at the beginning of the doc (effectively page zero). The problem with that hack was that Word would then display all of the correctly numbered and formatted right-and-left-hand pages on the wrong side of the screen. For example, page two, which should have a larger gutter margin on the right side of that page, would correctly display on the left of the screen, but because Word then counted that as page three of the doc the larger gutter appeared on the left — meaning the outside of the two-page display. Worse, headers and footers were also affected and had to be scrupulously ignored.
Although I repeatedly searched for a solution, I could not figure out how to get Word to display the first page of my doc as a single right-hand page, followed by the correct side-by-side view as if I was reading a book. Because I’m now monkeying around with another book I recently found myself confronting the same problem, and again I refused to believe that Word could not somehow be configured to give me the view I needed. So I did yet another series of searches, and this time I found the answer, which was apparently there all along:
It *does* work, at least in Word 2003 (and every previous version AFAR). I
have a four-page test document. If I select “Mirror margins” then switch to
Print Preview and choose 1×2 pages, I get page 1 on the right. Paging down,
I get pages 2 and 3, then 4. Same if I check “Different odd and even.”
Either of those settings has the desired result.
So there you go. In Word 2003 and earlier, and perhaps later, set Mirror Margins in the Page Setup dialogue, then select Print Preview under the File menu. (It doesn’t even matter what View mode you’re in at the moment.) The first page of your book-formatted doc will appear alone on the right side of the screen, followed by side-by-side-pages the rest of the way as you scroll.
If that works in later versions of Word, please drop a note in the comments. I don’t want any other writers wasting time trying to solve this completely contrarian problem.
— Mark Barrett