Kindle Direct Publishing Formatting Guide



I recently wrote a guide on writing a book, and in it I said that I would write a guide to formatting for KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This will be vaguely similar to my Smashwords formatting guide, but simpler.

I’ve heard of plenty of people using the simple, automated process that KDP seems to expect by default, but to be absolutely sure that no issues will arise by the conversion process, I convert my Word file into an HTML file first. Doing so means that, so long as I make sure only HTML tags that the Kindle recognises make it through, what comes out the other end of KDP will be exactly what I want. The only errors possible in this way are any made by me.

Most people think that because this is done through HTML, it is therefore over their heads and far too hard and technical. In reality, HTML is a lot easier to grasp than you probably think. More to the point, you don’t really need to know HTML; you simply need to know what HTML tags should and should not be present in your file.

What You Will Need:

  • Microsoft Word (it shouldn’t matter which version, and if you are using any other program, it should be the same principles – you may simply have to look harder for the menu options I mention)
  • Notepad++ (free here)
  • Dreamweaver (or another HTML editor)


  • Windows Notepad (expensive web design software isn’t really necessary)

What We’ll Be Doing:

As with the start of the Smashwords formatting guide, we will start by tagging and then removing any and all formatting. Or at least, so far as Word will allow.

We will then save as a web page, telling Word to keep out the clutter. Word will ignore us and leave in lots of pointless crap we don’t want or need, so we will take the file to Dreamweaver or your equivalent and remove those unnecessary tags.

That’s it.

To see the HTML tags supported by the Kindle, click here. If that looks daunting, we’ll be using very few of them anyway. This is a list of the most commonly used tags. Much smaller.


At this point, you should probably have the book laid out the way you want anyway, but if you haven’t then this is a decent order:

  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Table of Contents
  • Author’s Note
  • The main content
  • About the author
  • Anything extra

Of course, there’s a good chance you won’t want an author’s note, and a table of contents isn’t necessary.

If you’re unsure what kind of copyright page to put in, it can be very simple, or it can go a bit further, like mine:

Copyright © 2012 Ross Harrison
Cover copyright © 2012 Ross Harrison
Cover design by Cui Yuan
The right of Ross Harrison to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988.
All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.

NOTE: If you are doing this after formatting for the Smashwords edition, make sure that the line ‘Smashwords Edition’ isn’t still in your copyright information.


You will want to make sure your em dashes and en dashes are done right. While we’re at it, we might as well make sure your ellipses and quotation marks are right. The latter two won’t look any different on Kindle (actually, the quotation marks may look different on the more modern Kindles), but the dashes will.

If you’ve had the following options selected while writing, and Word has automatically changed your dashes and whatnot, then you can skip this bit.

  1. Click on the big yellow button in the top left of Word, then Word Options at the bottom of the drop down list (in earlier versions of Word, click Tools and then AutoCorrect Options, then ignore step 2)
  2. Click Proofing and then AutoCorrect Options
  3. In both the tabs AutoFormat and AutoFormat as You Type, make sure the options ‘Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes’ and ‘Hyphens with Dash’ are checked


Click OK until you’re back on the manuscript. Now we’ll use Find and Replace:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace window
  2. Find: “ and Replace: “ (Double quotes will automatically change to the nicer, curved ones)
  3. Find: ‘ and Replace: ‘
  4. Find: – and Replace ^+ (This creates an em dash)
  5. Find: – and Replace ^= (This creates an en dash)
  6. Find: … and Replace: … (In Find, type three full stops (periods). In Replace, press either Ctrl+Alt+. or Alt Gr+. for a proper ellipsis)


In order to make it a little easier when we get to the HTML editing part, we’ll remove all formatting from the document. This means that italic, bold, and underlined text will become normal text.

The problem with this method is that if you had text in italic, bold or underlined, and then deleted it, there may be white space with one of those still applied to it. This won’t matter (except in the case of underline) in the finished product, but I like to keep things as clean and tidy as possible, and so I don’t want that. Because we’re using Find and Replace, you can get around this problem by replacing one instance at a time, ensuring that you skip over anything that isn’t meant to be kept italicised, bold, or underlined. It could get tedious, but you probably shouldn’t have very much of this in the book anyway and I highly recommend doing it this way to ensure no issues.

First, press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace window. Remember not to type the quotation marks in the following:

– Italics:

  1. Click inside the Find box, then press Ctrl+I and it will say ‘Font: Italic’ beneath the box
  2. Leaving this box empty, now click in the Replace box and type ‘[i]^&[/i]’
  3. Go through one by one, or click ‘Replace All’ (see above)
  4. Click in the Find box again and press Ctrl+I until the format line beneath the box disappears

– Underline:

  1. Click inside the Find box, then press Ctrl+U and it will say ‘Underline’ beneath the box
  2. Leaving this box empty, now click in the Replace box and type ‘[u]^&[/u]’
  3. Make necessary replacements
  4. Click in the Find box again and press Ctrl+U until the format line beneath the box disappears

– Bold:

  1. Click inside the Find box, then press Ctrl+B and it will say ‘Font: Bold’ beneath the box
  2. Leaving this box empty, now click in the Replace box and type ‘[b]^&[/b]’
  3. Make necessary replacements
  4. Click in the Find box again and press Ctrl+B until the format line beneath the box disappears

If for some reason you want to enclose your formatted text between something other than ‘[i]’, etc, you can; the ‘^&’ is the important part. That said, don’t try to be clever and use the HTML tags of ‘<i></i>’, etc, because Word will assume later on that you want it to literally look like that, and replace those brackets with code to display the brackets, rather than making them said tags… Understand? In other words, the result will be ‘&lt;i&gt;Text&lt;/i&gt;’.

Preserving Italics

Do the same for anything else that will need attention, such as chapter headings (except not i, u, or b).


Strictly speaking, this step isn’t entirely necessary, but it will cut down on the clutter when we get to the HTML editing.

  1. Open Notepad++ and create a new file if necessary
  2. In Word, press Ctrl+A to highlight everything, then Ctrl+C to copy it
  3. In Notepad++, press Ctrl+V to paste in your manuscript

It will look confusing and messy, but that’s fine. Don’t try to change anything. Let’s make it slightly less messy:

  1. Press Ctrl+F and click on the Replace tab. Select ‘Extended’ in the ‘Search Mode’ section at the bottom
  2. In the Find box, type ‘\t’ (without the quotes). Leave the Replace box empty, making sure there is no blank space by default, and click Replace All. This deletes tabs
  3. In the Find box, replace the ‘\t’ with ‘\n\r’. Still leaving the Replace box empty, click Replace All again. This will delete blank lines. NOTE: You may need to perform this step again after step 6
  4. In the Find box, replace the ‘\n\r’ with ‘ ‘ (two spaces), and in the Replace box, type ‘ ‘ (one space). Click Replace All. This deletes double spaces
  5. Close the Find and Replace window
  6. Click Edit -> Blank Operations -> Trim Leading and Trailing Spaces. This will delete space before and after paragraphs

You work will still look confusing, but a little less messy. If there are any blank lines, perform step 3 again.

Deleting Blank Lines

Deleting Blank Lines


After saving your Word document, as a new version of course, close it. Now create a new Word document.

In Notepadd++, press Ctrl+A to select everything, and Ctrl+C to copy it. Now go to your new Word document and press Ctrl+V to paste your manuscript in.


Now click the big yellow button in the top left (or File) and then Save As. Save in whatever location you want, under the book’s title, but save as file type ‘web page, filtered’ and add an ‘L’ (but lower case) to the end of the file extension. In other words, it should read ‘Your Title.html’.

Close everything.


Now open your new web page in Dreamweaver (dragging it over the Dreamweaver desktop icon is the simplest way), other editor, or simply Windows Notepad.

If you are familiar with HTML, you’ll probably be relieved at how little code there is. If you are not familiar, you may be worried at how much code there is. The good news is, most of it is the same little bit of code recurring over and over, so it’s easy to get rid of.

To begin with, you’ll find things a lot easier if you understand that almost all HTML tags have an opening and a closing tag. For example, the paragraph tag opens with <p> and closes with </p>. The closing tag always has that forward slash.

First thing to do is find the opening tag ‘<style>’. In Dreamweaver, and possibly other editors (which I will now stop referring to because it’s getting annoying), the tag is in pink font, but obviously in Notepad it won’t be. Highlight the whole style section (remember, that’s from <style> until </style>) and delete it.

HTML Start

That gets the main eyesore out of the way, and you’ll now be able to see the start of your actual content. Let’s start at the top. All that needs to be at the top is:

<title>(Your Book's Title)</title>

So delete anything else and correct the title if need be.

The next thing should be the ‘body’ tag, but it has unnecessary rubbish in it, along the lines of ‘lang=EN-US’. Delete that, and the space before it, so that the tag reads simply <body>.

After the body tag, the next thing you should see is the very first bit of text of your book, preceded by <p>. Delete anything between the body tag and this. In my case, the only remaining thing in between is

. Divs have no place in our particular HTML file.

Next comes a simple but time-consuming process. We need to delete all of the unnecessary code. In the following bits of code, yours may read slightly differently to mine, so make sure to copy and paste from your own file and not this guide. At the moment, what we’re aiming for is to leave every paragraph with only the

tags on either side.

For example, the first paragraph of my first chapter looks like this to begin with:

As his nose cracked under my knuckles, I reflected on how much I hated violence. Not violence stemming from my own unresolved anger issues. That I was fine with. It was violence against women that I hated. I didn’t know why, but the prettier the girl the more I hated it. Maybe I was shallow.

It should read simply:

As his nose cracked under my knuckles, I reflected [...] Maybe I was shallow.

You’ll see that the MsoNormal rubbish is at the start of every paragraph, so it’s easy to get rid of a lot of that clutter:

  1. Highlight ‘ class=MsoNormal‘ (including the space, but NOT the right-hand bracket) and press Ctrl+C
  2. Press Ctrl+F (or Ctrl+H in Notepad) to bring up the Find and Replace box
  3. In Dreamweaver, make sure the ‘Find In:’ box says ‘Current Document’ and the ‘Search:’ box says ‘Source Code’
  4. Click in the Find box and press Ctrl+V (it may already be there in Dreamweaver)
  5. Make sure the Replace box is empty (that includes any blank spaces) and click Replace All

This will take around 30 seconds, perhaps a minute, maybe a little longer in Notepad. Just make sure to save after everything you do, especially with Notepad, as it can be a little temperamental.

You can probably guess what is next.

  1. Highlight ‘‘, this time include both brackets. Depending on where you’re from, this might say something slightly different, such as ‘EN-US’
  2. Open Find and Replace and repeat the above steps
  3. Now do the same with

Now it looks a lot less untidy. It’s mostly your text, with the odd blue (unless you’re in Notepad) HTML tag dotted about.

Go to the very end of the file. After the final

, it should look like this:


Delete that closing ‘div’ tag.

This should conclude the tidy up, because we took it into Notepad++ to get rid of as much formatting as possible. Just in case, though, you should run a search for the following tags and delete them if you find any. Remember to also delete the closing tag. After this, scan it all to see if anything catches your eye. Remember, except for the front matter – which we’ll get to in a minute – you should only see <p> in front of your paragraphs, and </p> at the end.

  • <div
  • ‘<p ‘ (that’s a space after the ‘p’. If you find any paragraph tags with more than just the ‘p’, correct it to simply <p> – there should never be a space)
  • <span
  • &nbsp; (replace these with ‘<br />’ – I’ll mention this again later)


Don’t steal that title, it’s for my Expendables rip off with washed up TV stars. And I’ll sue you.

You’ll be wanting your italics, bolds, and underlines back now, I suppose. If you went through these in the Word document one by one, as I suggested, then you’ll be okay to use ‘Replace All’ this time around. If you did not, then you should probably do so this time. You may find that you have empty paragraphs dedicated to a closing bold tag, or some such. For the sake of tidiness, more than practicality, you might want to fix this. I’ll assume that you did take my advice the first time round though:

  1. Press Ctrl+F (or Ctrl+H in Notepad)
  2. In the Find box, type ‘[i]’ (or whatever you used for italics in Word)
  3. In the Replace box, type ‘<i>
  4. Click Replace All
  5. Now go back to the Find box and type ‘[/i]’
  6. In the Replace box, type ‘</i>
  7. Click Replace All

Restoring Italics

Now do the same process for the underlined and bold tags. Note, though, that there’s no point in putting the title or chapter headings in bold, because we’ll be doing that another way in a minute.

  • Underline: [u] and [/u] should be <u> and </u>
  • Bold: [b] and [/b] should be <b> and </b>


These are the basic tags, and others will rarely be necessary. If you need something that I haven’t covered, refer to the list of tags that Kindle accepts (link)(but not until the end of this guide). If you do, just remember to use the closing tags too (or you could leave a comment asking me).

UPDATE: Since originally writing this, it has become clear that using pixels as a unit of size for font, indents, etc., is not the best way. Kindle users can, of course, make the font whatever size they want, so messing with it isn’t a great idea. Because it is what I have used until now, I will leave it in the below examples, but consider these two points: 1) The basic font size doesn’t need to be set (the very next bit of code I tell you to put between the style tags), and 2) Where it is important to put sizes (such as the text indents), you can use ’em’ rather than ‘px’. Em will change the size relative to what the reader has selected – so a font size of 1.5em is basically 1.5x the font size they have selected. This is handy for things like chapter headings, if you don’t use h2, h3, etc. (coming up).

Paragraph indenting is simple to set up. Go back to the top and, in between the title closing tag and the body opening tag, put in the following:

p {font-size:12pt; text-indent:20px;}

This might be too small an indent for you, but you’ll be able to preview the file later, so unless you already know what you want the indent to be, just leave it like this for now.

The problem with this is that, in fiction, the first paragraph after a break shouldn’t be indented. What we just did says that the indent should occur every time the paragraph tag is used. To get around this, you can go to the first paragraph tag after every break and change that first tag:

<p> becomes <p style="text-indent:0px;">

If, on the other hand, you don’t mind having no indent for paragraphs (perhaps your work is non-fiction), then don’t insert the style bit at the top. Instead, if you find a paragraph that needs indenting, use the above code in the paragraph tag, but put ’20px’, or however much you want it indented.

Now, let’s insert page breaks (i.e. forcing a new page, such as at the end of a chapter). You’ll presumably want these between chapters, and after your title page, copyright page, table of contents page, etc. If you’re familiar with HTML, don’t get a carried away. This simple line of code is exclusive to the Kindle, so you probably don’t know it:

<mbp:pagebreak />

That space before the forward slash is intentional, of course. Always make sure to write your bits of code exactly as written here.

Next, you’ll want some blank lines. If we hadn’t taken the file into Notepad++, it would be riddled with iterations of &nbsp;. Instead of these, we want <br />. That’s a space between the ‘r’ and the forward slash, if it isn’t clear. You may want one of these, or two. In front of my title and copyright information, I’ve used three each to push said bits of content down the page to be more centralised. This doesn’t work with the older E-Ink Kindles, but seems to with the Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle for other devices, and I think it looks better like that. It’s entirely up to you.

The <br /> tag forces a line break. The forward slash tells you that it’s one of the few that doesn’t need a closing tag.

So, for example, the top of my first chapter looks like this:

<br />
<p style="text-indent:0px;">As his nose cracked under my knuckles [...]

Well, actually, it doesn’t, because I have different tags on the chapter heading, but I didn’t want you to get hung up on that before we get to it.

Speaking of which, we might as well do that next. There are different ways of doing this. The most obvious is to use the header tags. That is, <h2> through to <h6>, getting progressively smaller. The <h1> is reserved for the title, so don’t use that. I would go for <h3> personally, but you may prefer <h2>. Anything beyond 3, though, will probably be too small. Again, you’ll be previewing this later, but if it helps at all, the section headings in this guide are <h2>, while the ‘What You Will Need’ and ‘What We’ll Be Doing’, back at the start, are both <h3>. There’s more of a difference on the Kindle though.
The header tags replace the paragraph tags, so the chapter I just showed you would read:


You’ll probably want it centred, so that changes it to:

<h3 style="text-align:center;">ONE | QUITTING TIME</h3>

NOTE: The American spelling of ‘center’ is intentional. Don’t try to change any code to British English, because HTML simply isn’t written that way and it will stop working.

The way I have actually done my chapter headings is like this:

<p style="text-align:center;"><b>ONE | QUITTING TIME</b></p>

Why I did that…I have absolutely no idea. But I’ve done that with everything I’ve published on the Kindle. I have a vague recollection of something to do with a table of contents being automatically generated based on the header tags, but I don’t think that’s a thing. I couldn’t find anything about it when I Googled it. I can’t for the life of me think why I would have done that, but never mind. If you find any issues using the header tags, you can always come back and try it this way instead.

If you have any asterisks or other kinds of symbol for breaks, you’ll probably want them centred. This is as simple as centring anything else we’ve done so far. You’ll also want a space above and below the symbols, so it will look like this:

[...] end of section.</p>
<br />
<p style="text-align:center">* * *</p>
<br />
<p>Start of next section...

I’ll say a quick bit about some other tags you might use:

  • <blockquote> could be used for a newspaper clipping, or a quote from a TV channel, or something like that. It has it’s own margins and indents, setting it apart from the normal text. You can’t use the <p> tags inside it, so use <br /> to create new lines
  • <hr /> creates horizontal line all the way across the page, as seen breaking up the sections of this guide. If my content area didn’t have a fixed width, the lines would span the entirety of your screen. It requires no closing tag
  • <strike> formats the contained text as strikethrough
  • <sub> and <sup> create subscript and superscript


Now we need to format the front matter (i.e. the title page, copyright page, etc.). As I mentioned earlier, the title should be between the <h1> tags. You’ll also want it centred.

<h1 style="text-align:center;">ACTS OF VIOLENCE</h1>

Below this will be your name, also centred:

<p class="author" style="text-align:center; text-indent:0px;"><b>ROSS HARRISON</b></p>

You may have a series title to go above your title; do this the same way we just did the author name, but remove the ‘class=”author”‘ attribute.

Next is the copyright page. This is how I have done mine:

<blockquote style="text-align:center; font-size:10pt;">Copyright © 2014 Ross Harrison
<br />
Cover by Mark Williams, copyright © 2014 Ross Harrison
<br />
The right of Ross Harrison to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988.
<br />
All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
<br />
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.</blockquote>

The <br /> tags could easily come at the end of the sentences, but I broke it up to make it clearer for this guide. I made the text a little smaller too, for aesthetics’ sake.

If you have an author’s note, or anything else, it will most likely be done just like a normal chapter, except you may want it centred. By now, you’ll be able to work out how to do that.


We’re nearly there now. The table of contents is pretty simple. First, create a page (using <mbp:pagebreak />) and simply copy and paste in your list of chapters. You should include the title page and anything that comes after the main content. Enclose each line in <p> tags.

Next, we need to create anchors and links to those anchors. Go to your first chapter heading and change the line to the following:

<h3 style="text-align:center;"><a name="Chapter 1"></a>ONE | QUITTING TIME</h3>

What you put after ‘name’ is up to you; it could be the actual name of the chapter. This is an anchor, which we can now link to from the table of contents. Do the same for the rest of your chapter headings, title, and any other place you want the TOC to link to. In other words, put <a name="Name"></a> right before text, always inside the paragraph or header tags. Make sure not to use the same name twice.

Next, go back to the table of contents. We’ll now point each one to the right place. So, using the first chapter again, it will look like this:

<p><a href="#Chapter 1">One | Quitting Time</a></p>

The hash tag/pound sign goes in front of whatever you have named the anchor, without a space.

HTML Finished

Now save, go to where you have the file saved and double click it. If it doesn’t open in your browser, then something is probably wrong. It won’t look right in the browser, of course (not least of all because it won’t recognise the page break code), but you can test each TOC link to make sure they go to the right place.


That should be pretty much it for the HTML side of thing. You are able to add images into the work, but that would make the guide even longer, and most people don’t have images. It also raises the delivery cost that Amazon charges. If, however, enough people are in need of help with images, I’ll add it to the guide.

Hopefully I’ve covered enough in this guide that if you need to do anything else, you can piece it together from what’s here. Otherwise, you can ask in the comments. If you require any special characters, simply copying them from Word and pasting them should do the trick; otherwise, here’s a list. Just make sure to preview to ensure it displays on the Kindle properly.

To preview your file, you can download the Kindle Previewer here. All you need to do then is click ‘Open Book’ and find your HTML file. The previewer will then convert the file into .mobi, which Kindle uses, and display it for you as it will on a Kindle. If you go to the top and click on the ‘Devices’ tab, you can switch between various kinds of Kindle to see the difference.

Kindle Previewer

Now that you have the .mobi (it will have saved in a folder in the same location as your HTML file), you can put it onto your own Kindle if you want. The save location will be slightly different depending on what device you are using, but for me, I simply plug my Kindle into the computer, open its folder, open the ‘documents’ folder, and drag the .mobi in. Then you’ll be able to open it on your Kindle for a better idea of how it will look.

Once it is published on Amazon, you’ll be able to download it for free (assuming you sign in to KDP with your main Amazon account), and know for certain that it looks how you want it to. In the very unlikely event that it doesn’t, you can easily update the file even after publication.



This part is pretty simple. Go to Kindle Direct Publishing and sign in with your Amazon account, or create one. On your Author Dashboard, click Add New Title.

The next page will ask you for the book’s details and those of the author. You will also upload the cover and HTML file here. Before you come here, you’ll need to have thought about both Kindle Select and whether or not you want DRM (Digital Rights Management) on your book. I have said a little about the former in the last part of my How to Write a Book Guide, but you’ll need to read about the latter for yourself. I always say no to it.

The second page is where you will price your book and choose your royalty rate. This is either 35% or 70%; each has minimum and maximum pricing requirements. You will also be able to enrol in Matchbook, which means if you have a print copy of your book on Amazon as well, you can give the customer a special price for the ebook if they buy the physical copy.

And…that’s it. Hopefully you found this guide helpful, and hopefully I’ve covered everything most people will need. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

Smashwords Formatting Guide

Ok, it’s not a clever title, but that’s what it is. Quite a lot of people seem to have trouble with formatting their ebooks for Smashwords, so I am writing this guide. It isn’t exhaustive, but it details everything I’ve done for both of my novels and my short story, so I know it works (feel free to check this outrageous claim for yourself by downloading my works here…)! And I want to make it as simple and easy to follow as possible.

Because I was asked, I have made this post into a PDF, too. It’s not great, as I just saved this web page and edited it a little. But here it is (right click the link and ‘Save As’):

Smashwords Formatting Guide

For introducing me to Notepad++ and for simplifying the table of contents process, I’d like to thank Paul Salvette.

A disclaimer of sorts: I’d like to note that I will be assuming you are formatting a novel. I don’t know about the formatting of non-fiction, or how it differs. So if that is what you are doing, it will be up to you to know how it differs, and make those changes to the guide (it’s not difficult – just change the styles accordingly). Also, it’s always a good idea if you have, or can borrow, some kind of e-reader to test the finished product on to ensure everything looks the way you want it to look. Lastly, this is only a basic-formatting guide – I’ll tell you how to have italics, bold, underlined, images, but nothing particularly fancy. If you want fancy, this guide can still be your base, but you’ll need to find out the rest elsewhere! The more fancy you get, the less I can guarantee it’ll pass the Meatgrinder, though.

Apologies for the rough red circles round things in some screenshots – I don’t have a tablet or a mouse, and using the laptop’s trackpad to draw circles isn’t easy.

NOTE: Some screenshots here of Word will be very slightly different to what you see, because I used a new document for most of it, and didn’t save as a Word 97-2003 document (which you have to do), which minutely changes the layout of some menus. By minutely, I mean that I may say something is on the left of the toolbar, but you’ll see it on the right. Nothing more major than that.

What We’ll be Doing:

What we’re doing here is known as the ‘nuclear option’. It means getting rid of every last bit of formatting, and starting again, basically. Smashwords’ Meatgrinder (their converter) isn’t all that fantastic. It’s not Smashwords’ fault – there’s a lot of different formats for it to convert your manuscript into, so the more messy it is, the harder Meatgrinder finds it to get everything right. This guide will get you into the Premium Catalogue, making your ebook available from lots of websites, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore, etc.

Basically, all we’re doing is cleaning up the Word document so that it will pass the Meatgrinder and Autovetter. So you’ve probably spent ages making your manuscript look pretty with different formatting, but unfortunately, all that has to go. The less formatting, the lower the chances Meatgrinder will mess things up for you.

NOTE: I will be using quotes around things you need to type in order to make it clearer. Please don’t be a fool and type the quotes too! I will also try to put anything you need to click on in bold. Hopefully that will help too. Click the screenshots for a larger image if you need to compare with what you’re seeing.

What You Will Need:

  1. Microsoft Word (I’m using 2007)
  2. Notepad++ – you can other text editors, but I’ll be showing you how to get rid of everything you don’t want with this one. It’s free here

Special Characters:

To make your work look nicer, you’ll want that nice curved speech marks and proper dashes and ellipses and so on. Word should automatically do this as you go. Skip this section if you already have these, otherwise:

  1. Click the big yellow button in the top left, then Word Options at the bottom of the drop down list
  2. Click Proofing and then AutoCorrect Options
  3. In both the tabs Autoformat and Autoformat as You Type, uncheck all boxes except ‘Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes’ and ‘Hyphens with Dash’. NOTE: If you have Ordinals or Fractions, check them too, but I haven’t used either, so I can’t guarantee it will work

Click OK until you get back to your manuscript. Now we’ll use Find and Replace. NOTE: It’s very important that you change the em dashes BEFORE the en dashes, otherwise you will lose the former.

  1. Press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace window.
  2. Find: ” and Replace: ” (double quotes will now automatically be changed to the nice curved ones)
  3. Find: ‘ and Replace: ‘
  4. Find: ‘–‘ and Replace: ‘^+’ (This creates an em dash)
  5. Find: ‘-‘ and Replace: ‘^=’ (This creates an en dash. Remember to do this second!)
  6. Find: ‘…’ and Replace: ‘…’ (In Find, type three full stops (periods). In Replace, press either Ctrl+Alt+. or Alt Gr+. for a proper ellipsis)

Now check your manuscript to ensure the changes have taken effect.

Intelligent Layout:

With Smashwords, potential readers can read a sample of your work. With that in mind, it may be advisable to make the story itself available as close to the front as possible so they won’t feel cheated (and because they want to know what the story is like, not who you want to thank). That said, it’s advisable to make the Table of Contents (if you have one) easy to get to for the a reader who actually has the book. Being at the front rather than the back is the more obvious thing, although if it is the very last thing in the book then they need simply select ‘Go To End’ to get to it. In short, aside from the title and copyright pages, it’s up to you what order you put things.

This is the order I’ve gone with:

  • Title
  • Copyright
  • Table of Contents (also known as NCX)
  • Author’s Note (I have a number of special characters in the book which won’t show on some e-readers, so because I can’t make a file for each file type, I took them all out. I need the reader to know this right away, and to apologise if I missed any!)
  • The story itself
  • About the author
  • Anything else you want to put in

This might be frowned upon by some, since the potential reader will have to skip though all that to start reading, but it’s how I did it…so there. Also, because of the way my ‘chapters’ are done, I only have about three or four entries in the TOC. Others may be multiple pages on their own, in which case putting it last may be the best choice. As I said, it’s up to you.

Another thing worth noting about the TOC is that it is optional. Kind of. Most places will accept the book without one – Smashwords itself certainly will, and it will be put in the Premium Catalogue without one. However, my second novel was rejected by Apple due to not having a TOC. This confuses me, because my first novel didn’t have one either. Apparently they changed their requirements soon after, or some such. So in short, I’d recommend putting in a TOC. If you have abnormal chaptering like I do, you could try putting ‘Title, Table of Contents, Author’s Note, Story Begins’ or something of the like.

At this point in the process, don’t bother with actual links for the TOC. Just the text itself for now.

NOTE: It is essential that ‘Smashwords Edition’ be added to your copyright page. If it is not, it will be rejected. A simple copyright page is fine, and it can even be a part of the title page if you want. Simply putting ‘Copyright 2013 [Your Name]’ is sufficient. I went a bit further with this:

Copyright © 2012 Ross Harrison
Cover copyright © 2012 Ross Harrison
Cover design by Mark Williams
Smashwords Edition
The right of Ross Harrison to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988.
All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.

It is unnecessary, but it’s what I wanted to put in!

Preserve Your Thick Slanty Stuff:

The nuclear option will remove all formatting. That means your italic, bold and underlined text will become normal text. So here is how to preserve those. This is only for body text, so remove these from headings first, as they’ll be done separately later. There’s a small annoyance with this method. Take italics for example. If you had a word in italic, but then you deleted it, or decided to remove the italics, there’s likely a blank space that is still italic. It’s tedious, but the way I do it, is to search through the document to ensure only the text is italic. No random white space italicized. If you want to do this, the best way is to press Ctrl+F, click in the Find box, and then press Ctrl+I so that beneath the box it says ‘Font: Italic’. Click Find Next. Then click Cancel and use Ctrl+Page UP/Page Down to cycle through the italicized text, removing any white space. You may decide this is unnecessary, but I like to be as clean and tidy as possible.

Next, press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace window. During the following, you can either do each manually to ensure precision, or you can click Replace All. If you do the latter, I recommend taking italics, bold and underline off headings. If you do the former, then simply skip them. Remember not to type the quotes in the following!

  • In the Find box, press Ctrl+I so that it says ‘Font: Italic’ beneath. Leave this box empty and go to Replace. Type something like ‘II^&II’
  • In the Find box, press Ctrl+U so that it says ‘Underline’ beneath. Leave empty and go to Replace. Type ‘UU^&UU’
  • In the Find box, press Ctrl+B so that it says ‘Font: Bold’ beneath. Leave empty and go to Replace. Type ‘BB^&BB’
Preserve italics

Preserve italics

The reason I say ‘something like’ is that it’s the ‘^&’ that’s important. It simply refers to whatever is in the Find box. In this case, it’s simply whatever font formatting you have chosen. So now your italics will have ‘II’ on either side, and ‘UU’ and ‘BB’ respectively for underlined and bold. So ‘Bring back Firefly!‘ will now say ‘IIBring back Firefly!II‘. As you’ve guessed, we’ll do something similar after the nuclear option to reverse that. You can change ‘II’, ‘UU’ and ‘BB’ to whatever you want. It could say ‘JamesEarlJones’ and so long as you have the ^& in the middle, it will work.

Going Nuclear:

Now we have everything preserved and laid out correctly, it’s time for the nuclear option. This removes every last bit of formatting and hidden crap from your manuscript.

  1. Open Notepad++ and create a new file if necessary
  2. In Word, press Ctrl+A to select everything. Then Ctrl+C to copy it
  3. In Notepad++ press Ctrl+V to paste in your manuscript
Notepad++ with rough text

Notepad++ with rough text

Now it will look a bit of a mess. Every paragraph should be on a single line. Everything will be the same size and there will be no italics, bold or underline. There will also be a lot of white space. So let’s get rid of it:

  1. Press Ctrl+F and click on the Replace tab. Click ‘Extended’ under ‘Search Mode’ at the bottom. In the Find box, type ‘\t’ and leave the Replace box blank (make sure there isn’t a space in there by default). Click Replace All. This deletes tabs
  2. In the Find box, now type ‘\n\r’ and again leave the Replace box blank. Click Replace All. This deletes blank lines. NOTE: You may need to perform this step last
  3. In the Find box, type ‘ ‘ (two spaces) and in the Replace box type ‘ ‘ (one blank space). Click Replace All. This removes any double spaces. Close the Find and Replace box
  4. Click Edit -> Blank Operations -> Trim Leading and Trailing Spaces. This will delete space before and after paragraphs

Now your work will look equally confusing, but less messy. There should be no blank lines at all. The title line should be immediately followed by the copyright line followed by whatever comes next, with NO BLANK LINES between. Check the document over for white space that shouldn’t be there.

Deleting Blank Lines

Deleting Blank Lines

Trimming Blank Space

Trimming Blank Space

Cleaned Up Text

Cleaned Up Text

Back To Word:

Now we can take that cleaned up text back into Word. Before you do so, create a new file and check that the AutoFormatting options you choose at the start are still the same. In other words, only the opens about dashes and quotation marks should be checked. Also make sure ‘Replace Text as You Type’ is deselected, under the tab AutoCorrect.

Next, check your page layout. Margins should be ‘Normal’. That is ‘Top: 1″, Bottom: 1″, Left: 1″, Right: 1″‘. Ensure that the style selected is ‘Normal’ and that there are no Headers or Footers.

IMPORTANT: Save your document as a Word 97-2003 document (.doc). Firstly, this is what Smashwords accepts. Secondly (and less importantly), as I mentioned earlier, doing so slightly changes menus, so it’s best to do it now before you get confused.

Style 'Normal'

Style ‘Normal’

Margins 1 inch

Margins 1″

Now, in Notepad++, press Ctrl+A to select everything, and Ctrl+C to copy it. Go to your new Word document and press Ctrl+V to paste it all in. It won’t look anything like you want it too, but it does look how it’s meant to, for now. Resist the urge to start clicking things and putting in tabs, etc. We will do all that shortly.

Restoring Your Thick Slanty Stuff:

So now we’ll use special codey type things to undo what we did earlier with the italics, bold and underlines. We need to tell the find and replace utility that it needs to replace any text with ‘II’ tags with only that text, italicized. We’ll that like this:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the find and replace window. Click More. Check the box Use Wildcards
  2. In the Replace box, type ‘\2’. This will be the same for all three.
  3. Now press Ctrl+I so that it says ‘Font: Italic’ under the Replace box. In the find box, type ‘(II)(*)(II)’. Press Replace All
  4. Go back to the Replace box and press Ctrl+I until nothing is written under the box. Now press Ctrl+B until it says ‘Font: Bold’ underneath
  5. In the Find box, replace the ‘II’ with ‘BB’. Press Replace All
  6. In the Replace box, press Ctrl+B until there’s nothing written under it. Now press Ctrl+U until it says ‘Underline’ beneath the box
  7. Surprise, surprise, you now need to replace the ‘BB’ in the Find box with ‘UU’. Press Replace All
Restoring Underline

Restoring Underline

Now all your italics, bolds and underlines should have been restored. Basically what we did with all that was tell it to find any text with ‘II’, ‘BB’ or ‘UU’ on either side and replace the whole thing with whatever that text is, and make it italic, bold or underlined, respectively. Check your manuscript to ensure it has worked properly.

A Note About Styles:

We’re all used to using the toolbar at the top of Word to change font size and type, and underline, and justification and so on. But that isn’t how we’ll be doing it for Smashwords, or else it might not make it through the Meatgrinder. We’ll be defining Styles. We’ll also be keeping it simple so as to make sure that it doesn’t get spat back out of the Meatgrinder either badly converted, or telling you to do it again. As I said, I’m using Word 2007. Anyone using a different version may not be able to follow the steps as easily, but the same process applies. If this is the case, then you should just Google how to find and edit your styles.

The other thing I wanted to note is that this may cause some issues if you have to come back to it. I mentioned earlier how the TOC/NCX is optional. Well, I didn’t use one for either of my novels. Apple allowed the first one through, but rejected the second because it didn’t have one. So I went back into my Smashwords .doc file to insert one. I found that Word had helpfully got rid of most of the styles I had created for it. This doesn’t seem to happen to everyone, and even when I checked the file for my short story, the styles were all still there, so hopefully it won’t be a problem for you. But, just to be safe, I strongly recommend that from this point, you continue straight through to the end of your file creation without quitting Word. It probably won’t be an issue, and can be fairly easily rectified (it’s mostly time consuming), but it’s best to be safe.

Defining Your Headers

This style will be applied to your title as well as your chapter headings (and other headings such as About the Author, etc). We will base it on the existing style Heading 2, as recommended by the Smashwords Style Guide.

This is how we define the style:

  1. In the Styles section of the toolbar, there is a darker strip at the bottom. At the end of that strip is a little arrow. Click this for a new box titled ‘Styles’ to pop up
  2. Hover your mouse over ‘Heading 2’ and an arrow will appear for a drop down box. Click it
  3. Click ‘Modify…’
  4. Make the following changes under the ‘Formatting’ heading (some may already be set):
    • Font: Times New Roman
    • Font size: 14pt (Smashwords’ Style Guide recommends no larger than 16pt)
    • Bold (and underlined, if you wish)
    • Colour: Automatic (which is black)
    • Align: Centre
  5. In the bottom left, click Format > Paragraph
  6. In the ‘Indents and Spacing’ tab, make the following adjustments:
    • Indentation – Left: 0″, Right: 0″
    • Special – (none), By: leave blank
    • Spacing – Before: 14pt, After: 14pt
    • Line Spacing – Single, At: leave blank
  7. Click OK
  8. You can leave the style’s name as ‘Heading 2’ if you want, or you can change it to something more personalised, such as ‘My Headings’
  9. Click OK
Style Box

Style Box

Modifying Heading 2

Modifying Heading 2

Paragraph Options

Paragraph Options

That’s the first style defined. Not hard. I actually created two Heading 2 styles, as I wanted my title to be slightly larger than the chapter headings, and I wanted those to be left aligned, not centred. If you want to do the same, then in the ‘Styles’ box from step 1, go right to the bottom and click on the left button showing two ‘A’s with what appears to be a little sun behind them. Then select ‘Heading 2’ beside ‘Style Based On’, give it an obvious name (like ‘My Title’) and then change your font size. We’ll be doing other styles by this method, so if that confused you, leave it until later.

Page Breaks:

I’m putting this right after the headings style because we’ll edit that style for this, but I’m making it separate to ensure it doesn’t get buried in a mess of instructions. Apparently, simply pressing Ctrl+Enter will create a page break (i.e. force a new page) and will still get you through the Meatgrinder. You can do that if you want, but I like to make it a built in part of my heading style to make certain it works they way I want. NOTE: The guide I cited earlier says that the Meatgrinder gives the Ctrl+Enter method ‘erroneous errors’.

So if you’re not going to use the Ctrl+Enter method, do this:

  1. Click the little arrow in the styles section again to bring up the Styles box. Go again to ‘Heading 2’ (or whatever you have renamed it) and bring down the drop down menu. Click Modify…
  2. Again, click Format > Paragraph
  3. This time, go to the Line and Page Breaks tab
  4. Under the ‘Pagination’ heading, check the box ‘Page Break Before’
  5. Click OK and then OK again

This does not affect the first page, so if you apply this style to your title, it won’t give you a blank page before it. But from then on, it will put your Heading 2 text on a new page.

Defining A Centred Style:

You may not need this, in which case, skip this section. You can use this style for the asterisks used for section breaks. Also apply it to the series name and author name on the title page, and copyright information.

Remember that I said not to set anything using the toolbar, so we need to define an entire style for centred text.

  1. Click on the little arrow in the style section again.
  2. Go to the bottom of the resulting styles box and click on the left hand button showing two ‘A’s with what looks like a sun behind them. If you hover the mouse over it, the tooltip will say ‘New Style’
  3. Now make these changes, where needed:
    • Give it a name, such as Centred (simply putting ‘My’ before any name will make sure you won’t get confused about whether or not it’s one you created
    • Style Type: Paragraph
    • Style Based On: Normal
    • Font: Times New Roman
    • Font Size: 12pt
    • Colour: Automatic
    • Alignment: Centre
  4. Now go to Format > Paragraph
  5. Under the Indents and Spacing tab, make the following changes:
    • Indentation – Left: 0″, Right: 0″
    • Special – (None), By: leave blank
    • Spacing – Before: 10pt, After: 10pt
    • Line Spacing – Single, At: leave blank
  6. Click OK and OK again
Creating A New Style

Creating A New Style

The one problem with this style is if you have a separate page for copyright information. Some people put it on the title page, but I have it separate. That means I have to create another style, identical to this one, but with the same ‘Page Break Before’ option as we did for the headings.

Defining Your Main Text Style:

Now, the first line after any kind of break should not be indented. This means that we’ll need to create two styles: one for the first paragraph of each section and one for the rest of the text.

  1. Click on the little arrow to bring up the Styles box
  2. Go to ‘Normal’, bring down the drop down menu and select Modify…
  3. Make these changes:
    • Rename to something like ‘First Paragraph’
    • Font: Times New Roman
    • Font Size: 12pt
    • Colour: Automatic
    • Alignment: Left (not Justified)
  4. Now go to Format > Paragraph
  5. In the Indents and Spacing tab, make these changes:
    • Indentation – Left: 0″, Right: 0″
    • Special – (none), By: leave blank
    • Spacing – Before: 0pt, After: 0pt
    • Line Spacing – Single, At: leave blank
  6. Click OK and then OK again
Creating A First Paragraph Style

Creating A First Paragraph Style

That’s the style you’ll apply to the first paragraph of every chapter and after every break. For the rest of the text, do this:

  1. Click on the little arrow to bring up the Styles box, then create a new style with the left hand button at the bottom
  2. Rename this style something like ‘Main Text’
  3. Style Type: Paragraph
  4. Style Based On: Normal
  5. Set the rest of the options the same as we did in the previous style, with one difference:
    • Under the Indents and Spacing tab, go to the ‘Indentation’ heading
    • Special – First Line, By: 0.25″
  6. Click OK and then OK again
Style For Main Paragraphs

Style For Main Paragraphs

You now have a second style, almost identical to the last, except that the first line of every paragraph will be indented. You’ll apply this to every paragraph from the second of every section to the last.

Applying Your Styles:

Now it’s time to apply all these styles you’ve created. Remember to be careful not to slip into the familiar use of the toolbar at the top to change fonts and so on. Only do this through styles. Also remember to use only the styles that you have created/modified. You can create as many as you want, but the more fancy you make them, the less I can guarantee the manuscript will make it through the Meatgrinder.

NOTE: A helpful thing to know/remember is that if you want to force your text onto a new line, you can use Shift+Enter. For example, I set my copyright style to make a page break before, so that it wouldn’t be on the title page. That meant, however, that each line was on a separate page. That was easily fixed by deleting the line break I’d created by pressing Enter the first time I wrote it, and instead pressing Shift+Enter. On the surface, it appears to do the same thing, but when I apply my style to the whole of the copyright information this time, it all stays on the one page.

These are the styles I used for the different parts of my own books:

  • Title: A slightly larged fonted version of Heading 2 (which I imaginatively named ‘My Title’)
  • Author and series name (directly under the title): Centred
  • Copyright information: A style identical to ‘Centred’, but with a page break before
  • Author’s Note: Main Text
  • Chapter headings: Heading 2
  • First paragraph of every section (in new chapters and after section breaks): First Paragraph
  • All other paragraphs: Main Text
  • Section breaks: Centred

This is pretty time consuming, but take your time and make sure everything looks the way you want it to.

Table of Contents (NCX):

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that there is a problem with Apple when you use the name ‘Prologue’ for a bookmark. For months, Apple rejected one of my novels until another writer told me this was sometimes an issue. This wasn’t an issue with anything else I’ve uploaded, so I assume they’ve changed something. So don’t name any bookmarks ‘prologue’ – just use ‘start’ or something.

Supposedly, Smashwords generates a NCX itself based on what you applied the Heading 2 style to. It did not do this for any of my three works, but it occurs to me as I type that this may be because I renamed the style. But it doesn’t matter because apparently, it’s a bit unreliable.

I’ll point out here that the NCX is the Smashwords table of contents, rather than your own table of contents, but I’ve shoved the terms together in case you’re looking for the term NCX.

According to the blog cited earlier, the .mobi file has a problem with doing the Table of Contents the way we’ll be doing it. It works fine, but when a link is used from the ToC, the chapter heading is put into the ‘normal’ style. It’s not a big problem, so it’s up to you. Either put up with that little problem, or don’t put in a ToC and have your book rejected by Apple.

So you should already have in the text for the Table of Contents (title page included). I’ll show you what my ToC looks like. As I said before, I have abnormal chaptering: the ToC would have been far too long, and it would have made no sense to anyone. A Smashwords member of staff suggested that I make a very simple one, like this:

Very Simple ToC

Very Simple ToC

Like I said, very simple, but acceptable to Apple. So once you’ve got the text of your ToC laid out, do the following:

  1. Apply the style Heading 2 (or whatever you’ve renamed it as) to the heading
  2. Go to the first place your ToC will link to (the title)
  3. Click somewhere in the title text and then go up to the Insert tab, then in the ‘Links’ section, about halfway across the toolbar, click Bookmark (If you’re not using Word 2007 or later, then you just go to Insert > Bookmark…
  4. Check the box Hidden Bookmarks at the bottom of the new window. Delete anything that is there. If this is already checked, I recommend unchecking it, and checking it again just to be sure
  5. Name your bookmark. It could be anything, but I named them to correspond to whatever was in the ToC text (‘Title’, in this case)
  6. Click Add
  7. Do the same for everywhere the ToC points to
  8. Go to the ToC text
  9. Highlight the first entry (‘Title’, presumably)
  10. Press Ctrl+K to bring up the Insert Hyperlink window
  11. On the left hand side, click Place In This Document
  12. In the central box, you’ll see your bookmarks. Select the corresponding one and click OK
  13. Repeat for every entry in the ToC
Inserting Bookmarks

Inserting Bookmarks

Ctrl+K To Insert Hyperlinks

Ctrl+K To Insert Hyperlinks

You can now test that the ToC entries all link to the correct place by holding Ctrl and clicking on each one.

NOTE: If for any reason you want external hyperlinks, perhaps to somwhere where all of your books can be purchased, use the same Ctrl+K method, except that you’ll click on Existing File or Webpage
on the far left, and simply type in the address at the bottom (the full address, including ‘http://‘). If it is an email address, type ‘mailto:’ followed by the address.

Adding Images

The last thing this guide will cover is adding images to your file. Generally, fiction won’t have any images, but perhaps you’ve written an epic fantasy tome and need a detailed map of the realm/s inserted. Or a photo for the About the Author page. NOTE: Bear in mind that there is no need to add your cover, as it will automatically be put into the front of the file the reader downloads. Also bear in mind that most e-readers are black and white.

For photographs, use JPEG (.jpg) format. For anything else, use PNG. The last time I checked, these were the only formats Smashwords accepts. Also last I checked, Smashwords does not allow for text wrapping.

  1. Click the Insert tab, and then click on Picture
  2. Select your image and click Insert
  3. Select your image and apply one of the styles we created earlier to it (it doesn’t matter which, but it must have one of these applied)
  4. Adjust your image to get the right size, etc
  5. With the image still selected, go to the Format tab and click on Text Wrapping
  6. Make sure it says ‘In Line With Text’, or the Meatgrinder will reject it
  7. Arrange your image and text so that it looks presentable despite the flaw of being unable to wrap text
Inserting An Image

Inserting An Image

Adjusting and (not) Wrapping

Adjusting and (not) Wrapping

Now, something else to consider with images is size. Smashwords allows a limit of 5mb for images in the file. That isn’t much for an image. The example I used in the screenshots is just over 1mb. So we need to compress the image.

Note that if you have not saved your document as a Word 97-2003 document, what you see when you click ‘Compress Pictures’ will be different. But you should have done that right at the start, so it’s your own fault!

  1. With your image still selected, go to the top left of the Format tab and click Compress Pictures
  2. Set the following:
    • All Pictures in Document
    • Web/Screen
    • Check the box ‘Compress Pictures’
    • Check the box ‘Delete Cropped Areas Of Pictures’
  3. Click OK
Compressing Images

Compressing Images

And that is that. If you have any questions, or think I’ve missed anything, leave a comment. I hope this has helped!