Separate Sections in Your Manuscript
You should familiarize yourself with the parts of your book prior to working on formatting, and a little prep work will help you out a great deal when it comes time to make all the text and images conform to Kindle standards. Most books have a front section (called front matter), which includes the title page, copyright page and publisher contact information, and a contents page. Sometimes there is a dedication, introduction, preface, or foreword. All of these are considered front matter.
The body of your manuscript includes all the content you are trying to publish. This section using begins with the first chapter or first section of your book. End matter can include an afterword, bibliography, an about the author section, a for further reading section, promotional material, and other parts of a book that do not classify as the body.
It’s important to break up each chapter and section by using the Page Break feature. This helps Amazon Kindle know where a section begins and ends. At the beginning of each section (I will create a section for each component in the front matter or end matter as well), select before the first word of the section (usually the title of the section). Then select the “Insert” tab at the top of your window and then select “Page Break.”
You will notice that any content behind the cursor has not moved to a new page. Make sure all of the sections of your manuscript follow this procedure. If you forget to create a section for one area of your manuscript, you can always go back to Insert>Page Break.
Make sure each section has a title and that it is separate from the body content. You will need this for navigation purposes once we put the whole ebook together. If you don’t have your sections labeled, insert a generic label (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.) as a placeholder.
Determine What Kinds of Styles You Will Need
With Kindle ebooks, it’s better to be as simple as possible. Now you’re going to go through your manuscript and determine how many different styles you need to create. There are going to be styles for the headers and subheaders, body text, callouts, and other element that needs special attention. This process can be difficult for beginners, as many people are not familiar with how many styles they need. For simple novels and the like, you may need to only create a few paragraph styles to cover everything in your book. A nonfiction title may have more styles. Here are some examples of styles I typically create for a fiction title.
1. Title page (title in 16 pt type and bold, 1 in. of space before title and 2 in. after, centered).
2. Byline (size 14 pt type and roman, 0 in. of space before and 1 in. after, centered).
3. Copyright page (size 12 pt type, double-spaced, and centered).
4. Contents page (Size 12 pt type, double-space, and flush left).
5. Dedication page (size 11 pt type, ½” indent on first line, left justified).
1. Section Head (size 16 pt type and bold, centered on page).
2. Chapter Head (size 14 pt type, flush left on page, 1 in. after).
3. Chapter Subhead (size 12 pt type, flush left on page, ½ in. after).
4. Body Text (size 11 pt type, 1/2 in. indent on first line, left justified).
You can continue to list the different styles. Sometimes it helps to create a drawing of your book with all its various parts so you can see what types of styles you’ll need to create. If you are not familiar with assigning styles (i.e., you don’t know what you use for spacing etc., I will help you create a standard-looking book here. Feel free to try different spacing, font sizes, and formatting).
Very Important: Make sure you use only one font in the formatting process. Using multiple fonts can cause Kindle to read your ebook differently, which may affect the presentation of material. For the purposes of this book, use Times New Roman as the font for each component. Kindle allows readers to choose between a handful of standard fonts for rendering their ebooks. This is done within the reader itself. This is one aspect of formatting we need to forget, unlike a print book, which can be designed using many fonts.
Formatting a Document in MS Word
At the top of your Microsoft Word screen you will find some navigation tabs under the headline “Styles.” These show up when you select the “Home” tab at the top of the window, and the Styles will show up on the right hand side. Click the little half box with the arrow facing down, which is located in the lower right hand corner of the Styles box.
Next, you will see a dropdown menu that shows a list of predetermined styles. Go all the way to the bottom of that box and select “New Style,” the icon that appears in the lower left hand corner of the styles menu box.
When the “Create New Styles from Formatting” dialogue box appears, you can start to create assigned formatting for each component of your book. I’m going to create a style for body text. I’m going to name it “Body Text 1” and then go about assigning its properties: it will be size 11 pt type in Times New Roman and a ½ in. indent on the first line.
After you have selected the font face and size, click on the button in the lower left hand corner of the dialogue box that says “Format.” Then select “Paragraph” from the dropdown menu.
In the new Paragraph dialogue box that opens, you can change other parameters of the paragraph style. In the first section, under “General,” there is a selection for “Alignment.” Choose “Justified” from the dropdown menu. This tells Kindle that we want even margins on the left and right side.
Next, go to the indent of text. In the section named “Indentation,” go to where it says “Special.” Click on the arrow and select “First line,” followed by the amount of indentation (where it says “By”). Choose “0.5".” Then go down to the “Spacing” section. Under “Before” and “After,” make sure that each reads “0 pt.” Under “Line spacing,” select “Single.” Under “At,” make sure the selection is blank. Then click “Ok.”
What you just did was create a formula for your computer to read. When we go about assigning styles to particular areas of text, you will see that each selection conforms to the style we have applied. For now you can see a sample of it in the lower portion of the Paragraph window. You can see how the text is aligned left, and is justified, with a 0.5" indent on the first line.
Let’s see if we can do the same thing for a chapter heading. For this one, we’ll make the paragraph flush left (the title will hang toward the left margin of the page. The font size will be 14 pt and bold, and we’ll add a space before and after the title to provide a little breathing room.
You’re going to create the new style just like you did for the Body Text style. When you get to the Paragraph dialogue box, make the following selections:
By: leave blank
Before: 8 pt
After: 12 pt
Line spacing: Single
At: leave blank
Your selections should look like this:
So when we apply this style to our headings, you will see it convert to the assigned style. Also notice how the new styles you just created show up in your Styles list now. You’ll need to remember where these new styles are when it comes time to assign styles to portions of your document.
Turn On Paragraph Marks
The last thing we need to do before we can begin formatting it to turn on the paragraph marks in the document. Look for the little paragraph symbol under the Paragraph section of the Home tab (click on the Home tab at the top of your window, then look for the Paragraph section to the right. Click on the Paragraph symbol to turn on notation for hard returns and spaces.
Notice how I am able to see all the spaces and returns in this document now.
It’s important to turn on paragraph marks because you need to able see how many spaces and returns you use in the document. The extra formatting marks will also make us aware of any extra indents, hard returns, or white space. Because everything in the document needs to be formatted properly, visible notification of extra formatting needs to be deleted in the document. We’ll touch more on this later.
Apply Formatting Styles to Your Text
Now that you’ve gone through and prepped your manuscript, it’s time to format the text. Remember, every part of your book needs to be assigned a paragraph style so that Kindle will know how to read the text. We’re going to select entire sections of the work now and apply a style to it.
For example, let’s start with the body text—this is oftentimes the longest portion of the coding process. Highlight a paragraph in your document that will be designed in the Body Text 1 style. Then go back to the Home tab and click the little box in the lower right hand corner of the Styles section. There you should see the style “Body Text 1” you just created. Just click on it. You should see the highlighted text change into the formatted style. It should be size 11 pt Times New Roman font, and there should be a ½ in. indent on the first line of the paragraph.
Continue this process for the rest of the body text of your book. If you are formatting a novel with very little deviation from the Body Text 1 style, you can highlight entire chapters and apply the style. Then, you can go back and alter anything that needs a different style.
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of having each section of your document clearly labeled with a name. In the coding process, it’s important that each section heading uses the same style. This will make it easier for you when it comes time to create the table of contents. Make sure all of your sections have a style that is different from your body text. In the example I have provided, the Chapter Heading 1 style stands out from the body text.
Notice how there is a bit of space between the title and the body text. If I were to turn on the paragraph returns and spaces here, you’d be able to see that there is no space between the title and the body text. Rather, this is a formula based on the style we have applied here; the heading has a 12-pt space between it and the first line of the body text. The body text has no spaces between the paragraphs, but maintains the ½ in. indent on the first line of each paragraph.
Remember that if you have bulleted lists, numbered lists, images, and other inserts that you may have put in a formatting code. Simply delete the formatting codes when you are done with the formatting. Scan your document to find the caret inserts and address each one during the formatting phase.