Good Morning Everyone. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve gotten a ton of questions on how to reformat manuscripts for the Kindle. As I know most agents also read partial and full requests on their Kindle, this might be good for some of you as well. With the help of my critique partner, Mac Wheeler, I’ve tried to give step-by-step instructions, but if you have any questions, I’ll be around most of the day. And if anyone else has anything they’d like to add, please feel free in the comments.
And this if for Word docs only. If you use anything else, I’m sorry I can’t help you.
First up, you really need to be friends with your menus and toolbars. (And I know most of you are already familiar with yours, however, some of us who aren’t computer literate had no idea what a plethora of treasures could be found there. Believe me when I tell you, knowing what these do make life a whole lot easier.)
File Edit View Insert Format Tools Table Window Help
or if you're using Word 2007:
Home Insert Page Layout References Mailings Review View
Second, I absolutely can’t stress enough to try this on your ‘scrap’ files first.
I did at least four of mine before I tried it with a completed ms.
And please don’t panic. You can always undo any changes you make with
Click Edit > Undo.
Okay, here we go. You have to be in Print Version to do these changes.
View> Print Version
Word 2007: Views > Document Views > Print Layout
1) MARGINS Change margins to 1" all around, top bottom left side right side --
File>Page Set-up> In each box manually change the number to 1”> click on Portrait (not Landscape) picture> click OK
Word 2007: Page Layout > Page Set up > Margins > click Normal
2) PAGE NUMBERS Move page numbers to top right hand corner. (For agents, you will have a header anyway with your name and title – When reformatting for Kindle, you will remove the header and page numbers. Word doc. automatically gives you 0.5 header and footer when you remove the information stored there. Which is fine.)
3) PAGE BREAKS Insert page breaks TWO carriage returns after end of sentence (Kindle required)
Insert> Break> A little box appears. Click OK.
Word 2007: Insert > Pages > click Page Breaks (or simply: Ctrl + Enter)
Now, inserting a page break into an already existing document, you will find beginning on the next page there may be white space. What you have to do is delete that white space until the Chapter heading falls at the top of the page. Sometimes you may find that you’ve accidentally deleted the page break.
To check this go to View> Normal Layout. (Word 2007: View > Print Layout)
You will see if the page break is there or not. If not, Just re-insert the page break.
As an aside, if you have two carriage returns for a scene change or POV change that's fine, they will show up where they are supposed to. Page breaks are only for end of chapter stops.
4) TABS This is the biggest issue with Kindle formatting that I have found. Hopefully you never used the tab key to create paragraph indents (like me). If you did, you must remove all of these manual tabs. In HTML they are considered characters (like letters in the alphabet.) There is an easy way to do that in Replace All:
Ctrl + H > select the "more" button > position cursor on Find what > select Special button > click "Tab" > leave "Replace with" empty > click Replace All
We can now Reset Tabs with the RULER… View > Ruler
Word 2007: View > Show Hide > check the “Ruler” box )
Step 1: Select all text from very the first paragraph to the end of the document. To do that, “set your insertion point,” that is, click before the first word of first paragraph. Hold down Shift + Ctrl and press END—This selects to end of the document
Step 2: In the upper left hand corner of the ruler, there is a tiny box, with a tiny black line, click on the box until a downward point is shown. Now you drag the “First Line Indent,” which you find on your ruler, to the width you wish to set your paragraph indents.
Set the indent to half an inch.
Step 3: It’s best to now go to every line through your entire document that isn’t a full paragraph of text, which you want centered, like chapter headings and scene break characters (if used), and reset the tab to zero.
(And now, the easiest way to center is a keyboard shortcut
- Position your cursor on the line you want centered
- Hold down Ctrl and press the “E” key (Ctrl + E))
Now you have set automatic tabs throughout your document. Every time you hit ENTER for a new paragraph, the new paragraph is automatically indented.
5) JUSTIFICATION. Where the right side of the document falls in line to flat edges, which is what normal books do.
Format>Styles & Formatting AA> (The sidebar will come up) In the sidebar find Normal click Normal> (Another box will appear) Click Modify> click the picture of the justify all button> Click Automatically Update at the bottom> click ok
Unfortunately, you’ll have to go through your manuscript again to find the white space between words. You’ll need to delete the white space to allow the sentence structure to realign itself. As an aside, I use the backspace key to delete the white space, it seems to work better for me than delete.
6) Change spacing between sentences. I’m old school and still use two spaces between sentences. To change these, always do this when the document is completely finished. That way you won’t have to do it repeatedly.
Edit> Replace > A box appears In Find What hit the space bar two times > In Replace hit the space bar one time > click Replace All
As an aside, after this step, you’ll have to click on one of the little green lines that appear between your sentences to get rid of them. Click Tools > Spelling and Grammar > A box will appear click Ignore Rule > Close. That should fix it. Now if you add anything more to the doc. you’ll have to repeat this step.
7) Change the Font. I keep my font on Times New Roman because I don’t like any of the others for my historical romances. However, for my contemporaries I’m more inclined to use Sans Serif. It looks more modern.
Format > Styles & Formatting AA > (The sidebar will come up) In the sidebar find Normal click Normal > (Another box will appear) Click Modify > Click Format > (Another box will appear) Click Font > (Another box will appear) Click whichever font you want to use from the drop down menu – (remember to change the pt. type as well – I use Times New Roman regular 12 pt – If I wanted to change this I would use Serif regular 10 pt.) Click OK > the first box will reappear make sure Automatically Update is checked off > Click OK
8) Em-dash. I have also heard that the em-dash really messes with the Kindle format. I need to check this out. So, I have changed all mine to ellipses. I suppose you could use two hyphens to form an em-dash, however, in dialogue you can’t get the close quotation marks to align the right way, hence, ellipses. When I have more on this I will let you know.
9) Special Characters. I’ve always used the **** to separate scenes because I had no idea there were so many other characters to choose from. I am particularly fond of this one .(Which does not show up from Word.) However, much to my consternation, Kindle cannot read them. (And obviously neither can Blogger.) So I suggest if you have anything other than **** or #### in your manuscript, remove them and reinsert these good old mainstays.
10) LINE SPACING Line spacing is 1.5 for Kindle ms. Even with agents who read on Kindle.
Format > Paragraph > Line Spacing - 1.5 click OK
Doing all this to a ms. takes a lot of patience, and trial and error (for me). Just breathe, and remember before you throw your computer through the window, close the doc. down, and walk away.
Also, on your tool bar there is Help. Just type in what you need help with and the answer magically appears. Which is what I did quite a few times.
And you may ask, why all the steps? And I will tell you, because this is how I learned to do them. I'm sure there are many tasks that may be done at the same time, but I'm a chef by trade and sometimes you can't add all the ingredients together or you end up with a mess.
And that’s that. Whew. I know this seems like a lot of work, but once you try it and see the results, you’ll say, “Wow, this looks like a professional document.” I know I did.
PS My Readability Statistics for this
Flesch Reading Ease 73.0
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 6.4.