By Colin Dunbar
In today’s self publishing world, it’s a good idea to have your book available in as many formats as you can. Now we’re going to look at the Kindle.
Formatting for the Kindle is really plain formatting (just like typing on a typewriter, if you’re old enough to remember those days ).
In this post I explain formatting your Word file for the Kindle. There are tools available to convert your Word file to the .mobi Kindle format. Probably the best known is Calibre (available free, here: http://calibre-ebook.com/). If you go this route, you will need some experience with HTML – nothing highly advanced, but you should know the basics. You also have the option of formatting your ebook in HTML 5 and CSS (but you will need some experience in using these).
You can upload your Word file to Amazon and have it available as a Kindle ebook.
You need to create a separate cover image (Minimum of 625 pixels at shortest side and 1000 pixels on longest side. Best quality is 2500 pixels on the longest side), and the format should be TIFF or JPEG.
Are you ready to turn your book into your Kindle ebook version?
Formatting Your Word Manuscript for Kindle
You can save your Word file as .doc or .docx (Amazon now accepts both formats).
Remember, this is like old fashioned typewriting, so you need to strip away all special styles from your manuscript.
If you don’t already have your manuscript written, and you’re starting to write your book, you won’t need to worry about removing styles, just keep everything plain.
If you have already written and designed your book for the hard copy version, you will need to remove all the fancy formatting for your Kindle ebook. It’s not that bad :o).
If you already have your book written (and formatted) in Word, pay special attention to the following.
Kindle does not recognize any of the following:
- Text boxes
- Auto Numbering
- Special fonts
- Headers and footers
- Special Word styles
You can use the following formatting in your Word manuscript:
- Indentations (keep in mind that the Kindle automatically indents the first line of a paragraph – this is a default setting in Kindle).
- Bold and italics
There are 2 ways you can strip the fancy things out of your Word manuscript:
- You can go through your manuscript and change each style, one at a time, or
- You can select your whole manuscript and change everything to Word’s Normal Then you will need to go through your manuscript again, and add the Heading styles, italics, bold, etc. We’re going to use this method here (using the Format Painter it can actually be done quickly and easily).
Open your Word file.
If you want to practice on a plain Word document, you can download the file available here (or right-click and save to your computer): www.colindunbar.com/kindle-word-example.docx
Save your Word file in the .doc or .docx format (Kindle now accepts both formats).
Select the whole document
Place your pointer in the left hand margin (outside of the text). See the pointer arrow below.
Hold down Ctrl and click your left mouse button.
Everything in your manuscript should now be selected.
Click the Normal style in the Styles toolbar.
Almost everything in your manuscript will now have the Normal style. I say almost everything because if you have text boxes for example, you will need to go through your manuscript and change these one at a time (see the next section). Keep in mind these are not recognized in Kindle, so you’ll have to change them anyway. You should also remove additional blank lines.
Although the following step is not essential it will help you see how your text fits on the page, and give you a rough idea of what it will look like on the Kindle. Change your page size to the following (see this post for the steps to change your page size):
Width = 3.5 inches (88.9 cm)
Height = 5 inches (127 cm)
Margins = 0.25 inch all around (6.35 cm)
Style Ideas for the Kindle
Text boxes. To change text boxes, you will need to copy the text in the text box and then delete the box. Paste the text where you want it in your book and apply a simple style to the text, e.g. use italic or bold text for these (and you can also center the text if you want to).
Bullets. If you have bullet lists, you can use asterisks instead of the auto bullets.
Auto Numbering. You need to change auto numbering to manual numbering.
Special fonts. Check your whole document for these, and change them to plain fonts, e.g. Verdana, Arial, etc.
Headers and footers. Delete these.
Special Word styles. Check your whole document for these, and change them to plain styles, e.g. Normal, Heading 1 to 3.
Tables. If you have tables in your ebook, ensure that you use the Insert > Table option in Word.
Graphic images. Color images can be viewed in color by readers using Amazon’s free Kindle apps for PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, and Android. Images on the Kindle devices are displayed in 16 shades of gray for great contrast and clarity.
Images should be in the JPEG format.
Click the Insert tab, then click the Picture button.
IMPORTANT! Don’t copy and paste an image from another program.
Choose the image from the location on your hard drive, and click the Insert button.
You do not need to include your cover image in your manuscript file. Your cover image will be added automatically when you publish your ebook, and is uploaded separately.
Page Breaks. Insert a page break at the end of each chapter to prevent the text from running together.
To insert a page break, place your pointer where you want the break.
Click the Insert tab, then click Page Break.
The page break should be inserted on the page. Turn on the Show/Hide option to see where the page break is.
Title Page. Your Title page will be centered with the title of your book, and the author name below, and insert a page break below author name. See example below.
The other front matter pages in your ebook are:
• Copyright page
• Preface (optional for non-fiction)
• Prologue (optional for fiction)
After the front matter pages, you will have your book contents (chapters).
Use the Heading styles for the headings in your book. These will then display in your Table of Contents (ToC) and enable your reader to navigate your ebook.
Remember to insert a page break after the last sentence of each chapter.
Table of Contents. Using Word’s auto Table of Contents (ToC) will be functional in your Kindle ebook.
Place your pointer at the beginning of your document, after the Title page (if you don’t have a blank page after the Title page, add one for the ToC).
Click the References tab.
Move your pointer down and click the Insert Table of Contents option.
On the Table of Contents window, tick the Show page numbers check box. As the Kindle does not display page numbers, this is not required.
Make sure the Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers check box is ticked.
Your Table of Contents will display on your page (see example below).
If you hover your pointer over a ToC entry, you will see the following tooltip display:
“Go To” Option
Kindle has the option to “Go To” the cover image, beginning and the Table of Contents of your ebook, from anywhere in the content. These are defined by what is known as Guide Items. If you upload a cover image, the first Guide Item will be set automatically.
To define the other Guide Items, follow the below steps:
For the Beginning. Place the cursor where you want the book to start, e.g. Title page.
Click the Insert tab, then click the Bookmark button.
On the Bookmark window, type Start in the Bookmark name field (see below).
Click the Add button.
For the Table of Contents. Place the cursor at the beginning of the first entry in the Table of Contents.
Save your Word file.
“This book is a goldmine for anyone trying to learn how to format their own books. It’s filled with step-by-step instructions, pictures, and a hyper-detailed process for designing professional looking books. Use it to save countless hours of frustration and hair-pulling.” – Derek Murphy, Creativeindie
“I was so pleased when Colin asked me to write the Foreword for this book, because it’s high time someone took you step-by-step through this process, to simplify something that might otherwise be unnecessarily overcomplicated. Now, you have in your hands something more than a book – it’s actually more like a course on formatting and designing your book.” – Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and Founder, Author Marketing Experts, Inc., Adjunct Professor, NYU