How to Format a Kindle Ebook


When is the best time to start formatting your Kindle ebook? Ideally, before you begin to write. You are most likely using MS Word but the formatting you see on your screen will not translate exactly to Kindle display. If you skip proper MS Word set up, you will guarantee yourself a frustrating time involving much back-tracking, fixing and confusion.

Forget the “normal” way you may be used to working – formatting-as-you-go, when writing. For a Kindle-intended manuscript, set your format options up ahead of time and observe the tips in this guide.

Kindle itself has published a free guide, “Building Your Book for Kindle”, which you can download to your Kindle reader. It is an excellent guide, but this one adds screen shots, clarifies steps and includes a few other juicy tips that one normally only finds out about the hard way.

Step 1. Before You Write

Performing the actions in this section should take you less than five minutes, and it can eliminate hours of frustrated hassling with Kindle .mobi formatting later.

  1. Click the File tab and select Options from the drop-down menu.

In the “Word Options” pop-up window that opens, select the Proofing hyperlink.


Select the Autocorrect button to the right, which appears after you’ve pressed “Proofing”.

When the “Autocorrect: English (U.S.)” popup opens up, uncheck all the check marks within it. Click OK.

Click OK again in the “Word Options” pop up. This will return you to your blank manuscript page.

  1. Now set up your Indents. It is absolutely vital you set them up this way, and not by using your Tab key or anything else. You are setting indents for the first line of every paragraph.

Click on your Page Layout tab, go to the Paragraph section and click on the little downward arrow button in the bottom, right-hand corner of that section  (highlighted below in green, with the orange arrow pointing to it).

Clicking on the little downward arrow will open up the Special drop-down menu: Select “First line”.


Set your indent to the standard publishing-industry 0.5” indent (or whatever custom indent you want to create).

Click OK to close the “Paragraph” popup.

  1. Next, set up your Spacing. This is for the spacing between paragraphs, so you don’t have to manually insert these.

Press your Page Layout menu tab again if you need to, and glance over until you find the Spacing section. Reset the After option to the standard publishing industry 10 point spacing (or your preferred setting).


(There will be nothing to close – just return to your manuscript.)


Step 2. What to Do With Images

Images don’t have to give you a nervous breakdown – as long as you observe the basic rules.

1.    Place your cursor at the point you want to insert an image.  Do not leave extra spaces.

To add images to your manuscript, press the Insert menu tab and click on Picture. Then select the .jpg filename you want from the correct folder and press the “Insert” button.


 2.    All images should be center-aligned.

3.    If you have used indents, remove the indent on that paragraph alone (the “paragraph” being your image).

4.    Remember that images will display in black and white, so pick ones with clear detail, a minimum of clutter or blur and good contrast

5.    Your cover photo should have a minimum size of 600 pixels wide and 1,000 pixels deep.  Stick to that ratio.

Step 3. What Not to do…

It helps prevent costly errors if you know the following Kindle formatting prohibitions in advance.

1.    Do not copy-paste images into your manuscript.  Stick to the Insert menu.

2.    Do not include your Cover photo in your manuscript.  It needs to be uploaded separately.

3.    Do not use headers, footers or page numbers (especially in your Table of Contents). Kindle will insert these itself. If you want to type a chapter heading, click on your Home menu tab. Then simply highlight your chapter heading and apply your pre-set “Heading 1” from the Styles menu.


4.    Do not use three periods at the end of a line.  Instead, use a proper ellipsis (CTRL+ALT+period).

5.    Do not use Upper Case characters while cleaning up your formatting with Find and Replace.

6.    Do not insert extra spaces, tab indents or paragraph returns. Use the Styles menu.

To reset a Style (e.g. “Heading 1” to your own custom format:

  • Highlight your desired element (e.g. “Chapter One”)
  • Right-click on the Style in the Styles menu that you are selecting (e.g. “Heading 1”)
  • When the drop-down menu appears, select “Modify”
  • When the “Modify” popup appears, select your new font and size. Click OK.


7.    Do not use CTRL+C or the “Enter” key to create a page break at the end of each chapter!

Instead, press the Insert menu tab:  Then select Page Break.


Your end of chapter will then automatically be inserted.

Step 4. Clean Up Your Manuscript Before Uploading

Once your manuscript is finished and the final draft saved…

  • Spell-check
  • Proof for readability
  • Proof again at least two more times

Use your spell checker one last time, if you’ve made any corrections.

Now it’s time to eliminate hidden formatting – and prevent those glitches on upload you hear people complaining about.

Step 5. Clean Out Your Formatting

Before you can correct hidden formatting, you need to see it.

The easy way to see your formatting instantly is to press CTRL+SHIFT+8. You will instantly see formatting marks.  (Repeating CTRL+SHIFT+8 switches them off again.)

In the example below, extra spaces that could mess up your Kindle formatting show up as dots:  Here, they are highlighted in green.


The most unfamiliar symbol you will see is called a pilcrow. It signifies a paragraph return.


Remember, we only want a single paragraph return at the end of each paragraph: Any extra spacing between paragraphs has to be set with your Style before writing – not inserted manually with the Enter key.

Use Find and Replace to replace unwanted characters.

Here is the routine you should follow…

Go to your Home menu; then select Replace for the following actions:

  1. To remove extra paragraph returns (pilcrows):  Find ^p^p – Replace with: ^p


  1. To remove a tab (caret):

Find ^t – Replace with: [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][input nothing].

  1. To replace three periods at end of line (like this…) with a proper ellipsis (…)

Find – Replace with: CTRL+ALT+.  (Yes, that was ALT, plus a period.)

Both three dots and an ellipsis may look identical in your MS Word file – but they can really screw up your Kindle formatting, so make sure you use ellipses.

  1. To replace two spaces with one space:

Find [input two spaces] Replace with: [input one space].

  1. To remove manual page breaks:

Find ^m – Replace with [input nothing]

One final thing to always keep in mind…

Finished Kindle text on a Kindle device is fluid, constantly adjusting itself from individual reading device to individual reading device. You will never, ever get your formatting to look exactly the same for every single Kindle device version, so keep your formatting as simple as possible to allow for variations.

(Remember also that Kindle readers can choose to adjust their own font sizes!)

Step 6.  Adding Front Pages

But what about those “extra” pages that always precede the body of the book?  If you haven’t already included them, insert them into your MS Word file before the main body of your text, separating each one with a Page Break.

You can choose from:

  • A Title Page – Centered. Title of book, followed by Author name.
  • Copyright Page – Centered.

Copyright © 2013 [Your Name]

All Rights Reserved

  • Dedication – Also centered.

Formatting:  For the previous pages, use your Home tab, and select Center.  After each page, click your Insert tab; then click Page Break

The following pages should not be centered.  Instead, use justified left, ragged margin (the same as your Text body).


  • Legal Disclaimers – If needed
  • Foreword or Preface
  • Table of Contents (TOC)
  • Prologue – Think of this as an introduction, including any explanations that are necessary on what’s about to follow; and background, if relevant.

At the very least, you need a Title Page.  (Remember, your finished Cover Page will be uploaded separately.)

Also remember: Don’t include page numbers in your TOC:  Kindle inserts them automatically, and they will change from physical Kindle viewer model to model.

To create a Table of Contents

Creating a Kindle-correct TOC is easy, if you follow these simple steps. (Remember, you shouldn’t attempt to do this until after you have completed your manuscript.)

    1. On your new page, type “Table of Contents” at the left margin.  Press Enter.
    2. Copy-select what you just typed.
    3. Go to your References tab and select Table of Contents.  From the drop-down menu, click on “Insert Table of Contents”.13-insert-toc
    4. Uncheck Show page numbers. Set Show levels: to 1.  Press OK.


You’ve created your TOC – but there’s one more vital step you have to take!

Set a Bookmark:

  1. Copy-select the words “Table of Contents again
  2. Go to your Insert tab.  Select Bookmark.


  1. A popup will open.  In the Bookmark name box, type “TOC”.


  1. Click the Add button.

Step 7.  Saving Your File

For your very last Save before proceeding to previewing and upload, save your file as a Web page, filtered.  (Press the down arrow that appears in the Save as popup and select that option from the drop-down menu.)

If it asks about “removing office tags”, check the box as a “Yes”.

And finally we arrive at the most important step…

Step 8.  Compressing Your File

The very last step you have to take: Creating a compressed file. This couldn’t be easier.

  1. Find your HTML file.
  2. Right-click on it, and select “Send to”
  3. Choose Compressed File.

And you’re ready to preview!



Top 10 Digital Publishing Tips

Turning an idea for a book in your head into a successful digital publication requires co-ordinating a whole lot of different steps to create that one hit. Tens of publish_ebookthousands of digital books are published every month, but only a fraction of them will sell more than a thousand copies.

How do you make sure your book is on
e of the few that succeeds? How do you hit the top charts? How do you sell and sell and sell your books, even if you don’t have a brand or a reputation to rely on now?

These ten digital publishing tips will help you do just that.



Tip #1: Everything You Need to Know About Pricing

How you price your book makes a big impact on your sales and your ultimate profits. Here’s what you need to know about pricing.

Most first-time authors should price their books at around the $2.99 price range. Go a little higher if you’re in a high end market or if your book is especially

On the other hand, if you’re a well known author or if you’re publishing highly specialized knowledge for which there are no other alt


native titles, then price your book more towards the $9.99 range.

If you’re looking to use your book to get as many readers as possible without much care for how much profit you actually make, then by all means go ahead and publish it for $0.99 cents or for free.


Tip #2: More on $0.99 Cent Books

It’s very difficult to make a profit on $0.99 cent books. The commissions you’ll have to pay to the bookstores will cut your profits down even further until the amount you make per sale is completely negligible.

If you plan on making a living selling books, this price point just doesn’t work. For example, on the Amazon Kindle store when you price your books at $0.99 you’ll only get paid a 35% royalty. That means that when all is said and done, you’ll only be making around 30 cents per download.

However, the one notable exception is if you want to use this price to get more people into your sales funnel or brand umbrella. For example, you might sell your primary book for $8.99, then publish 5 much smaller books on specific topics all priced at $0.99. People who buy your cheaper book who want to learn more can do so by purchasing your more expensive book.

Use the $0.99 price point as a marketing tool, rather than as a profit strategy.


Tip #3: Hire a Professional Proofreader

Proofreading your own books is not a good idea. Neither is sending it to your friend to see if they spot any mistakes. A professional proofreader can turn a good piece of content into something truly phenomenal. If you’re serious about your book’s success, hire a great proofreader to look your work over.

There are a few different ways to find proofreaders.

For one, you can use a service like Proofreading Pal to do it. These kinds of companies hire dozens of proofreaders and make them available for projects for a small markup.

Alternatively, you can head over to a freelancer marketplace like eLance and find a proofreader to hire. Make sure you look through their before and after samples before making a decision.


Tip #4: Read it on the Digital Device

If you’re publishing your book on the Kindle, read it on the Kindle. If you’re publishing it on the Nook, read it on the Nook. The same goes for an iBookstore book.

Just because your book looks great on screen doesn’t mean it’ll look good on a digital device. Make sure you read your book the way your audience will be reading it.

Both Barnes & Nobles and Amazon have basic devices you can purchase for under $150. If you don’t care to own the devices, you can just buy the device and sell it on Craigslist or eBay immediately after testing your books. The difference between purchase price and sale price usually won’t be more than $40.


Tip #5: Plant a Teaser for Your Site

Put a teaser for your site in your book. For example, let’s say you’re publishing a book about fishing. Your book goes in depth into details on everything from rod selection to actual fishing techniques.

However, there are a few things you don’t cover. You don’t cover how to choose a fishing boat. You don’t cover how to predict the best weather for fishing.

Instead of putting these things in your book, you tell them you’ve put them in a separate report that’s available for free on your website. People who read your book will then go to your website to get those freebies.

You can require people to give you their email address before they receive the freebies. Because they’ve already paid for your content and already have a level of trust built in for you, your opt-in rate will be very high.


Tip #6: Make Your Samples Pack a Punch

It’s not uncommon in physical books for people to spend the first few pages ramping up. You might talk about fundamental concepts or use the first few pages to get your readers in the right mindset to learn.

With digital books however, this is a bad strategy. Your first few pages are going to be your preview pages, which means that for first few pages have to pack an emotional punch. People who read just your first few pages should feel inspired or excited. They should want to get the rest of your book.

Don’t write your first 5 pages for people who’ve already purchased your book. Instead, write them for people who’re considering buying your book. Consider it a sales-oriented piece of high quality content.


Tip #7: Outsource the Formatting Cheaply

If you’re not great at formatting your books, why not just have someone else do it for you?

Head over to Fiverr or eLance and look for people who offer to format digital book. You can easily find someone who’ll format your digital book for under $20. In fact, on Fiverr you’ll often be able to format your books for just $5.

They’ll insert the page breaks, create the Table of Contents, make sure your chapter headings appear correctly, so on and so forth.

Formatting eBooks is one of the most common obstacles writers face in getting published. There are people who specialize in doing just this. Why not let the specialists handle it (cheaply) so you can focus on writing and marketing?


Tip #8: Target Peripheral Markets

One great way to get more people to read your books is to target peripheral markets.

For example, let’s say you have a primary book about weight loss that’s selling for $8.99. Instead of just continually publishing books about weight loss, why not target a few peripheral markets?

For example, publish a book about weight loss over 45, publish a book about weight loss for people with diabetes and publish a book about weight loss for mothers who’ve just had a child.

Each of these books can help build your brand, as well as get more people to purchase your main product.


Tip #9: Participate in Platform Communities

Each platform has a community. For example, there are many places where Kindle authors can go to network with other authors. Be an active member of these communities.

There are a few powerful ways that these communities can help you:

  • You can learn a lot from past questions and posts. If you have a question, chances are someone else has already asked that question at some point.
  • You can ask questions. If you ever get stuck in the publishing or marketing process, just reach out for help.
  • You can ask for feedback. Not sure if your book, your cover or your marketing strategy is up to snuff? You can just ask.
  • You can find partnership opportunities. If you and another author are in the same market, why not pool your resources so you both come out ahead?
  • You can ask for reviews. Ask other authors to purchase your book and review you, and you’ll do the same.

The list of potential benefits goes on and on. Participating in these communities is a key to success on any platform.


Tip #10: Watch Your Reports and Optimize for What’s Working

Watch your sales reports carefully. Track all your marketing activities and try to draw links between your sales and what you did to generate those sales.

If you go on several internet podcasts to market your book and see no spike in sales, you probably won’t want to spend time doing podcast interviews in the future.

On the other hand, if you write a few guest articles for industry websites and suddenly see a flood of sales, that’d probably be a good avenue to focus on in the future.

Watch for unexpected stats. For example, if you’re publishing your book primarily for the US market but suddenly notice an influx of sales from the UK, ask yourself why. Did someone in the UK pick up and promote your book? Did it strike a cord among an unexpected audience?

Try to figure out what’s working and do more of that. Also, try to figure out what doesn’t work and stop doing it.
If you follow these ten tips, you’ll be one of the few self-published authors who knows both how to write a great book and how to run a great book business. Follow these tips and you’ll create a fantastic product that generates sales, month in and month out.