How to Format an eBook for Kindle

One of the things I’ve been doing recently is formatting my books for the Kindle. I’d read a number of articles suggesting that it could be difficult and seen other websites offering Kindle formatting as a service and so I thought I’d see how hard it could be.

The first thing I learned was that I had been doing it wrong! The big no, no was the use of the tab key for an indent – apparently Kindle doesn’t like this. Had I not used the tab key it probably would have taken me less that an hour to format my 90,0000+ word manuscript. As it was, it took slightly longer although it wasn’t difficult.

So, what should you do?

First of all you need to make sure all your text is in the same format. If you’ve copied and pasted text into your manuscript, you may have a number of different fonts and styles and so the easiest way to remove all formatting is to highlight all your text and click on the Normal icon within the Styles toolbar on the home tab.

The next thing you want to do is chose the style you want your font to be in. If you click on the Change Styles icon and then Style Set, you get a choice of a number of styles you can select. For Kindle publishing, the easiest to use is the Simple style, as it gives you a serif font and the appropriate line spacing for non-fiction books.

If you are writing fiction you will need to indent your paragraphs and it is easiest to do this next. To avoid the use of tabs, right click over some text, and select paragraph. In the box called Special, select First Line Only and then type in 0.96 cm (0.38”) in the box alongside it.   This will automatically indent all first lines of normal text within a paragraph. Within this box, you will also need to remove any line spacing.

Once you are happy with your basic text, you can start to adapt your Titles and Headings. Most of the work involves using the Styles toolbar where there are buttons for the Title, Subtitle and various levels of headings. All you need to do is position your cursor within your title and click the title button and then the same thing for the sub-title.

The first time you create a title or heading make sure it is in the format you need. Remove the 1st line indent that will have been applied and make it the size and position you want. If you are working on Heading 1, for example, once you are happy with it right click over the Heading 1 button on the tool bar and click ‘Update to match selection’. After that, every time you use Heading 1 you will get the same style.

Identifying your headings / Chapter titles is particularly important as you will need to use the correct label in order to generate a Table of Contents (ToC). All your major headings should be formatted as Heading 1 as these will form the basis of your ToC. If you have subheadings you need to use Heading 2, or for sub-sub headings, Heading 3 etc. Once you come to produce your ToC, you can choose how many levels of headings you include.

As you work through the document to highlight your Headings, put a page break at the end of each Chapter.

Inserting a Table of contents:

You need to do this last when all your headings are in place. Firstly, position your cursor in the document where you want to insert you ToC and then click References on the tool bar followed by Insert table of contents.

This will bring up a pop-up screen asking how many levels of heading you want to display (just Heading 1’s, or do you want Heading 2’s and 3’s as well). For Kindle, you also need to uncheck the box ‘Show page numbers’ as Kindle books do not use these. Make sure the box that says ‘Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers’ is checked (NB. This option is not available on a Mac, which means you have to bookmark each Chapter – really frustrating).

And that’s basically it!

I may have made it sound more complicated than it is, but an excellent post I found on You Tube takes you through the process step by step. Click here for further details.

If you want to know more about the Ambition & Destiny Trilogy, visit my website here.


About Val McBeath

Born and raised in Liverpool (UK), I live in Cheshire with husband, youngest daughter, and cat. In addition to family history, interests include rock music and Liverpool Football Club. Prior to writing, I trained as a scientist and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. In 2012, I set up my own consultancy business and now split my time between business and writing.
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