Format a Book in Word: Kindle Formatting

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?

Let’s go…

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
  • Bullets
  • 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
  • Headings

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.

word logo 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.

kindle 1

Hold down Ctrl and click your left mouse button.

Everything in your manuscript should now be selected.

kindle 2

Click the Normal style in the Styles toolbar.

kindle 3

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.

kindle 4

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.

kindle 5

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.

kindle 6

The page break should be inserted on the page. Turn on the Show/Hide option to see where the page break is.

kindle 7

Ebook Structure

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.

kindle 8

The other front matter pages in your ebook are:

• Copyright page
• Dedication
• 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 to the Table of Contents button and click the down arrow.
kindle 9

Move your pointer down and click the Insert Table of Contents option.

kindle 10

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.

kindle 11

Your Table of Contents will display on your page (see example below).

kindle 12

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.

kindle 14

On the Bookmark window, type Start in the Bookmark name field (see below).

Click the Add button.

kindle 15

For the Table of Contents. Place the cursor at the beginning of the first entry in the Table of Contents.

Click the Insert tab, then click the Bookmark button.
kindle 14On the Bookmark window, type TOC in the Bookmark name field (see below).

Click the Add button.
kindle 16

Save your Word file.

how to format your book in word

“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

 

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21 Comments

Filed under Kindle formatting

21 responses to “Format a Book in Word: Kindle Formatting

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  7. I am a writer in Tamil and English .I did my first English Kindle E book A Bouquet of 15 short stories. I did it myself I used Times Roman and Aerial Narrow. I faced few issues they are the following: I established Hyperlinks
    1. Spacing between paragraphs to be Uniform. What should be the spacing recommended.
    2. The Chapter and Sub Title of the a chapter to appear in the center and not on the left
    3. What is the best theme that could be applied?
    4. All images appearing just above the Chapter should be of same size

    After preparing the manuscript in word 2016 I will save it as Filtered HTML document. The zip the HTL file and Image folder generated and load it in KDP

    Advice on the issues welcomed.

    • 1. Spacing between paragraphs to be Uniform. What should be the spacing recommended.

      Spacing between paragraphs can be between 6 ans 12 pt. See Line Spacing here: https://formatbookinword.com/2014/06/23/format-a-book-in-word-global-settings-3/

      2. The Chapter and Sub Title of the a chapter to appear in the center and not on the left

      See: Set Heading Style here: https://formatbookinword.com/2014/07/07/format-a-book-in-word-headings-headers-footers/

      3. What is the best theme that could be applied?

      This is unclear to me. What theme are you referring to?

      4. All images appearing just above the Chapter should be of same size

      Resize your images in Word by dragging the corner nodes that are available when you click on the image.

      After preparing the manuscript in word 2016 I will save it as Filtered HTML document. The zip the HTL file and Image folder generated and load it in KDP

      You can do it that way, but a lot easier is to save your Word file as .doc version, and then upload that to KDP. You will then also need to upload your cover image separately. SEE: https://formatbookinword.com/category/kindle-publishing/

      • Thanks for the advice. If I load the document as doc.file or docx file with inserted images KDP may not accept it. They specified to save it as filtered HTML file . It generates a folder containing images. Both the file and the folder to be zipped and loaded. They are specific that the images should be jpeg and should be inserted not copied.

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  9. I have loaded my 5th eBook ” Generations”. I am waiting for confirmation from KDP that every thing is OK . I am on a learning curve.
    I had two issues 1) Different colors for some paragraphs when viewed in the Previewer. This issue was sorted out from a help I received when addressed the issue to the KDP community
    2) Positioning the images KDP advised me to use Ctrl L, Ctrl R, CtrlE for aligning Left, Right Center. It worked.

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  11. Debra

    I have tried to follow this formatting but have the following questions. Do I have to make the page 6 x 9 and set the .25″ margins? It makes the entire document look funny and leaves very little margin space on the page. Second, my table of contents options do not give me the option to use hyperlinks instead of page numbers. I am working on a Mac, so I have Office for Mac. Do you know how I would find that option you were talking about? Also, I currently have page numbering on, should I completely delete that? My final question is a picture for my cover. How do I put a picture on it that will show up on kindle? Am I just inserting an image? Thanks for the help.

    • Hello Debra

      Thank you for your questions. This version of the book is only for the PC, but I will be adding the steps for the Mac in the 2nd edition of the published book.

      To answer your questions:

      “Do I have to make the page 6 x 9 and set the .25″ margins? It makes the entire document look funny and leaves very little margin space on the page.”

      When formatting your Word document for Kindle, there is no need to set those margins. Those settings are for your hard copy book.

      For your Kindle you can use these settings (found just before the “Style Ideas for the Kindle” section in the post:

      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)

      “Second, my table of contents options do not give me the option to use hyperlinks instead of page numbers.”

      I’m going to check this on a Mac, and will get back to you after the week-end.

      “Also, I currently have page numbering on, should I completely delete that?”

      The Kindle doesn’t recognize page numbers, and as such I always remove from my files.

      “My final question is a picture for my cover. How do I put a picture on it that will show up on kindle? Am I just inserting an image?”

      Your cover needs to be a separate image file (JPG or TIFF), and should be should be 2500 pixels on the longest side. The cover image is then uploaded separately at KDP.

      I wish you the best with your Kindle project.

      Colin

  12. Hi Colin

    I really appreciate the help you offer.

    I was reading the query above and I have the same issue – re “Second, my table of contents options do not give me the option to use hyperlinks instead of page numbers.”

    I was wondering if you found the answer to this as I have not discovered a solution myself.

    Thanks
    Rob

    • Hello Rob
      Sorry about taking so long to reply. The holidays and then catching up is my excuse ;o)
      It seems the feature to remove page numbers is not available on earlier versions of Word for Mac. I checked this on my son’d Mac (he has version 15). The option is available on that version.

      Click the References tab.
      Click the Table of Contents drop-down menu.
      Choose the Custom Table of Contents option at the bottom of the window.
      Uncheck the Show page numbers checkbox (see above).
      Click OK.

      I actually created a short PDF, with screenshots.

      I’m not sure if that’s helpful.

      Cheers
      Colin

  13. Steven

    Nice article. One question. When i am reading a book on my Kindle I can highlight a character’s name and get a sentence or two description (or a sentence or two when they first appeared in the book) My father is writing a mystery and has dozens of characters. If this is covered in your book I will buy it.

    • Hello Steven, thanks for your comment. I’m unclear as to what you want to know. Can you explain further please?

      • I think what you’re asking about is the X-ray feature in Kindle Paperwhite devices. Unfortunately, that option is not discussed in my book. The process to include that goes beyond book formatting, and includes a good knowledge of programming (using Perl), etc.

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