Formatting for e-book – Amazon Kindle

Many people find the process of formatting their manuscript, a little daunting.  A lot of people pay someone to do it for them but that is not necessary at all.  Once you get everything into a routine, you can format a full length novel in a couple of hours.

There are many different sites that allow you to upload your e-book file, and most have their own formatting rules. For this reason, this blog will focus entirely on Amazon Kindle.

The first thing to do, is not to panic.  It seems daunting but it isn’t really that hard.  You just need to go through the steps in order and make sure you don’t miss any out.

Formatting for e-books is way easier than formatting for paperbacks, believe me.  I fought with one particular aspect of paperback formatting every single time I released a new novel and it wasn’t until I released my sixth novel that I finally found out how to avoid this problem.

The most important thing to remember, is that an e-book is not a paperback.  Sounds obvious I know but as you format your e-book, you may think everything looks weird and you will have to avoid the temptation to try and make it look like a paperback.  Kindles, and all e-reading devices, display your e-book as one long continuous file, without separate pages like paperbacks have.

Once your manuscript has been edited to your satisfaction, you will need to typeset it.  This is where you choose whether to indent your paragraphs, or do the block style, whether to bold your chapter headings or not and other such stylistic things.  I won’t go into detail about how to set out paragraphs/chapter headings etc, as that would make this blog prohibitively long.

Amazon Kindle likes your e-book file to be set out as justified text.  Justified is where both right and left margins are straight. The photo below shows what I mean.

justified text

 

Set out all of your chapters in this way, and centre your chapter headings.

Next, get your front matter together.  Front matter is the title page, copyright page, dedication etc.  Set it out as you wish it to look, I usually centre the front matter but it’s a personal preference thing.  Do the same with any end papers (coming soon, about the author etc).

Amazon Kindle requires your sections to be separated by page breaks.  You need to insert a page break at the end of each page of your front matter, at the end of each chapter, and between any end papers.

Amazon Kindle also requires your e-book file to have a linked table of contents, TOC for short.  A TOC is the bit at the front that says Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc.  Remember not to put page numbers in your TOC, just the chapter headings.  This is done so that readers can click and go straight to whatever chapter they want without having to scroll through the previous chapters.

Type your TOC as you wish it to look.  Title it, Table of Contents and then type your chapter headings underneath.

Next, go to the start of your first chapter.  I call my chapters by number but no matter whether you’ve called it Chapter 1 or anything else, go there and highlight the chapter heading.

Click ‘insert’ and then click ‘bookmark’ (I always use Word but whatever word processing system you use, find the ‘insert’ option and click it, then click ‘bookmark.’

A box will pop up, asking you to name the new bookmark.  Name it the same as your chapter heading, making sure you avoid putting spaces in the name.  Click ‘add’ and the box will disappear.

insert bookmark

Do the same for every chapter heading, naming each new bookmark the same as the chapter it bookmarks.

Also bookmark any end papers.

Next, go to your TOC and highlight its heading and bookmark it, naming it – refTOC.

Then, go through and put ‘back to top’ at the very end of each chapter, underneath the last line of text and above the page break.  This will allow readers to go straight back to the start of your book, without having to scroll back up through the whole document.

Now you have to link those chapter headings, to your TOC so that when readers click on the contents list, they will go to the right place.  For this, you will work entirely with your TOC.

In your TOC, highlight your first chapter heading, ‘chapter 1’ or whatever.

Right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

hyperlink

Choose ‘place in this document’

You will then see your list of bookmarks that you just made.  Choose the one for chapter 1 and click ‘okay’

place in doc

Hightlight your second chapter heading, chapter 2 or whatever and do the same.

Do this for each of the chapter headings within your contents list.

Next, scroll through to where you’ve typed ‘back to top’ at the end of each chapter.

Highlight ‘back to top’

right click and choose ‘hyperlink’

Choose, ‘place in this document’

Again, your list of bookmarks will be there.  Choose the one you named refTOC and click ‘okay’

Go through and do this for every ‘back to top’

Check your TOC works by clicking on the links and make sure you go to the right places.

That’s basically it.  You should now be able to upload your e-book file straight to Amazon Kindle.  It’s a really simple procedure and once you’ve done it a couple of times, you’ll see how straight forward it is.  Good luck with that manuscript.

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