Kindle Ebook Formatting Example



I just published a new Kindle e-book and it occurred to me that it might be helpful to show on my blog how I formatted it.

This way, you can see an actual example of the formatting in action. You can also check out the free sample if you have a Kindle to see how it turned out. (Or the whole book, free if you have Kindle Unlimited; just 99 cents to buy.)

It’s a fun little book (by fun, I mean it involves puzzles—word scrambles, but not the usual variety: these have a Romance theme). But even if you don’t like the book, you can still check out the free sample to explore the features and how they were made. After all, this article isn’t about word scrambles; it’s about formatting Kindle e-books.

Formatting a puzzle book or a workbook for Kindle poses several formatting challenges. We’ll explore some of these in this article.

If you’re self-publishing a novel or nonfiction book, even though it’s somewhat different from a word scramble book, it involves many of the same formatting features. So this article and the book itself serving as an example can help you see firsthand how to implement those features on Kindle.

It’s 2015 and publishing is dynamic. What worked well for Kindle in 2009 or 2012, for example, may not be quite the same in 2015. Some things have stayed the same, but much has changed.

Plus, the more books you design for Kindle, the more your eye for the design of digital books changes.

This book has a different look and style compared to my other e-books. It has some features that I feel are better. I’ll describe a few design choices along the way, and a few features of Kindle design that I’ve come to regard as ‘better.’ But remember, when it comes to style, ‘better’ is just an opinion. One designer’s ‘better’ is another designer’s ‘worse.’ 🙂


I’ll begin with some basic Word formatting for Kindle. If you already know how to format a Word document for Kindle, you can skip the first sections below (though you never know when you may learn something you didn’t know before).

Then I’ll introduce a book to serve as an example of my Kindle formatting, and I’ll discuss a few design issues. I’ll also describe a few improvements that can be made rather quickly beyond Word to Kindle formatting, showing my recent book as an example.

You’ll find specific directions for how to quickly implement some formatting tricks toward the end.


I began the Kindle formatting with a simple plain text version of the book. (It’s also available in paperback, so ultimately I needed one file for Kindle and a totally different file for print. Yet at the same time, it’s important to have identical content for both.)

I used the Replace tool in Word to remove:

  • two consecutive spaces. I put two spaces in the Find field and one space in the Replace field. I continued to hit Replace until there were no matches found.
  • blank lines. I typed ^p in the Find field and deleted everything from the Replace field. There isn’t a single blank line in the book, yet there is space between some lines which creates the same effect. More on this later. You may also want to put ^l (lowercase L) in the Find field in case you have another kind of line break.
  • tabs. Type ^t in the Find field and make sure that the Replace field is empty. (There were none to be found, of course, as I know not to use the tab key in the first place.)
  • page breaks. Put ^m in the Find field to remove ordinary page breaks. (If you have section breaks that are also page breaks, you want to remove those, too.) My book does have page breaks, but I make them a different way in the Kindle edition.

I don’t have headers, page numbers, or other print-only formatting features in my original Word file for Kindle.

You also have to be careful not to use any unsupported symbols.

What about the formatting? Don’t worry; we’ll get to that.


I even removed all of the images from the Word file. You can leave them in Word, but I like to apply a simple trick to improve the way that pictures are displayed (revealed later in this article), and as long as I’m doing that, I just save all the pictures for later. I just write things like “Pic1” or “Pic5” on their own lines where I want the pictures to go later. Well, I did put one figure in, just so that Word would recognize the file as containing images, which I replaced later. (If my trick is new to you, things will be simpler if you leave the images in Word.)

If you prefer to leave the images in Word, or if you intend to upload a Word document to KDP, here are a few things that you may wish to know:

  • Word may reduce the size of your image when you insert it. Word wants your picture to fit in the margins shown on the screen, so if necessary, it will reduce the width. Right-click on the image, choose Size and Position, find the Size tab, and enter 100 for the width (and height). This may cause your image to appear larger than the page in Word, but don’t worry about that, as that isn’t how it will look on a Kindle.
  • Setting the width to 100% in Word does NOT make the image appear full-screen on Kindle devices.
  • Right-click the image and change Wrap Text to In Line With Text. Place the image on its own line.
  • Use Insert > Picture to insert your images; don’t use copy/paste from outside of Word.
  • Crop, size, and format the picture with image-specific software before inserting into Word. If you do these things within Word, note that these features won’t be saved and propagated through to Kindle with Word’s default settings.
  • If you upload a Word file, sometimes a drop shadow appears along the edge of one or more images. If so, the simple solution is to upload a compressed zipped folder instead (described later in this article). If you opt to do this, it also gives you the flexibility to make your images display better.


The key to predictable and consistent formatting from Word is religious use of the paragraph styles.

In Word 2010 (and 2007 and 2013) for Windows, these appear on the top right half of the Home ribbon at the top of the screen.

It’s a mistake to highlight a paragraph and apply formatting directly to what’s highlighted. If you’ve already done that, you can find a Clear Formatting button on the Home tab.

The way to format a paragraph is to create a style, format the style just the way you want, and simply associate that style with the desired paragraph(s). Place your cursor within the paragraph and simply click the style button to apply that paragraph style to the paragraph.

You can highlight a word, phrase, or sentence that’s part of a paragraph and apply formatting, like italics or boldface, to that. But don’t do this for an entire paragraph. To format an entire paragraph (or a chapter heading, like Chapter 1, which is a paragraph), instead format a style and apply the style to the paragraph.

The Normal style is the default for body text. Once you’re typing body text with the Normal style, simply pressing the Enter key will let you type another paragraph with that same Normal style.

Right-click a style to modify it. Click the funny-looking little arrow-like icon in the bottom-right corner of the group of styles on the Home ribbon. This opens up a window of styles at the right side of the screen.

Styles Location

Styles Options

Find the three buttons at the bottom of this new window. The left button lets you create a new style. When you create the new style, give the style a name that will help you remember which style is which. Choose which current style the new style will be based on.


The Normal style is designed for the majority of your body text paragraphs, though you’ll want to modify the settings of this style before using it. You may need one or more variations of the Normal style, for example a similar style for the first paragraph of each chapter (e.g. if you don’t want to indent the first paragraph of each chapter, as is common among most traditionally published books).

Use Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc. styles to format headings that you’d like to be used in navigation. Kindle tends to automatically use your heading styles for built-in navigation (though it may take some time after publishing before this is done). You may want to use the Heading styles for chapter headings (like Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.) and some front or back matter sections (e.g. Introduction, Appendix), for example.

Think about other kinds of paragraphs that you may want to be formatted differently. For example, you might want a block of text for quotes that is indented from both the left or the right. Or you might want a centered line for figures or for text that you don’t want to be used in navigation.

Modify the Normal, Heading 1, and Heading 2 styles, and then create new styles—as described in the previous section. Once you have all the styles for the variety of paragraphs that are used in your book (including “paragraphs” that only consist of a few words or an image on one line, or lines from your table of contents, for example), then you just need to apply the appropriate style to each paragraph.

Except for the Normal style, you can check a box so that any changes you make to that style automatically apply to every paragraph of that style when you modify the style. Otherwise, and for the Normal style, if you want to update every paragraph of that style, open the style box on the right of the screen (see the instructions in the previous section), place your cursor on a paragraph of the style you want to modify and update, right-click the style in the box at the right (not the top), choose Select All, click Modify, and then update the style and the changes should propagate throughout.


For each style (Normal, Heading 1, Heading 2, and variations of these that you use), you need to modify the style to adjust the font and paragraph settings.

Leave the color set to automatic, except where you need to create text a different color. For example, if you want a heading to appear in red or blue, you can change the color for that heading style. Don’t set the color to black for body text; leave it set to automatic. (Note that colored text may not appear as nice on black and white devices; for example, red stands out in color, but appears gray on black and white devices).

The default Word font style (Times New Roman or Calibri) is simplest. This will allow the user to choose a font to his or her liking. There is a better way to treat the fonts, as I’ll describe later.

Font size is something that you must set in Word if you intend to upload a Word doc, but which the user will ultimately take control over. So font size is relative. The points don’t translate perfectly from Word to Kindle. Kindle doesn’t discriminate between some close font sizes. If you use 12 pts for body text and want a heading to appear twice as large, you might try 24 pts, for example. Some trial and error is wise. If the font for a heading is too large, for example, a long word (like INTRODUCTION) might not fit on a single line on some devices (though when a user chooses a very large font on a cell phone, that’s virtually unavoidable), so it pays to test it out. There is a better way to set font size than by doing so within Word, as I’ll explain later.

To adjust the font in Word, don’t highlight an entire paragraph and change the font for that paragraph. Instead, right-click a style to modify it, click Format, choose Font, and modify the font for that style. Then simply associate that style with the desired paragraph(s).

You must similarly adjust the paragraph settings. Right-click a style, click Modify, choose Format, and select Paragraph.

This is where you can set Space Before (or After, but I prefer to use Before only), if you would like headings or the first paragraph of a chapter (only if you create a separate style for it) to have space above it. This is better than inserting blank lines with the Enter key. Why? Because it looks funny when a blank line happens to appear at the bottom or the top of a page, or a blank line that you’d like to serve as a section break may not be visible in such a case. (Using asterisks, * * *, centered on a line by themselves, or a glyph, provides a section break that won’t get lost. Pad your glyph with space on the sides so it doesn’t zoom to full-width on old devices, perhaps a clear background with a .gif, with black or sepia user options in mind.)

Instead of inserting manual page-breaks, you can include this in a style, too. You also find this in Modify > Format > Paragraph for a style, then choose the Line and Page Breaks tab, and check the box for Page Break Before (but note that most of the other options on that tab don’t propagate through to the Kindle; page-break works, though).

The paragraph setting is also what you need to use, within the style itself, to treat indents in a way that will work predictably and reliably.


The wrong ways to indent lead to inconsistent indents in Kindle e-books:

  • Don’t use the tab key at all.
  • Don’t use the spacebar to create indents.
  • Don’t rely on automatic indentation.
  • Don’t go to the paragraph dialog box and set First Line for a particular paragraph. Close, but no cigar. You need to do this for a style instead to achieve the most reliable and predictable indents across all devices and the challenging, yet all-important, Look Inside.

Right-click a style to modify it, click Format, Select Paragraph, change Special to First Line, and enter a value for the indent there.

  • Do this for all non-centered styles, including justified and left-aligned (ragged right) styles.
  • Do this for Normal and variations of Normal that will be justified or left-aligned.
  • Set the indent to 0.2″ or 0.3″ for indented paragraphs. The default value of 0.5″ appears too large, especially on small devices like a cell phone. (There is a better way, which I’ll describe later.)
  • Don’t choose (None) for paragraphs that you want non-indented (like the first paragraph of a chapter, if you have a special style just for those paragraphs, or the lines of your table of contents page). This won’t work. Instead, set First Line to 0.01″ to create non-indented paragraphs.
  • For centered paragraphs, do set First Line to (None). This only works for centered styles. (You don’t want centered styles, like Heading 1, to include indents, otherwise they’ll appear off-center.)


There are two different ways to format a table of contents in Word for Kindle. There is a table of contents tool, or you can create bookmark hyperlinks. There is yet a third way to do it if you wind up exporting Word’s HTML to create an epub or mobi file. On top of this, Kindle may build in navigation (after a lengthy delay once your book is published) based on h1, h2, etc. tags (Heading 1, Heading 2 in Word).

You can also create other bookmarks for built-in navigation. For example, if you type “See Section 4,” you can use bookmark hyperlinks so that when the reader clicks Section 4, it takes the reader directly to that section. If you have external hyperlinks, e.g. the url to a website, you can similarly activate these.

Footnotes and endnotes in Word also propagate to Kindle.


Below is a picture of how a portion of my sample e-book appears in Microsoft Word. If you look above Contents, you can see “pic 2” on a line by itself. Later, I turned that line into a picture. Remember, it’s not how the book appears in Word that matters, it’s how it appears in Kindle that counts. Later in this article, I’ll describe a few ways to improve the formatting from how it appears in Word.

Ebook Word

Here is how the beginning and introduction look in the actual Kindle e-book:

Ebook Kindle 3

I’ll discuss some design choices and a simple way to make further improvements. In case you may want to check out the free sample to see the example firsthand, click the image below:

Click the image to view at Amazon.



There are four decorative images in the front matter. The paperback edition includes some visual elements, so the hope was to incorporate a taste of that visual impression into the Kindle edition.

However, square images (like a heart), full-page images, or tall images take a great deal of room on a screen, which can impact the readability. For one, it serves as a long gap between the text that comes before and after the image. Also, you have limited control over where the paragraphs of text preceding and following the picture will appear. You can wind up with a lot of white space on the screen prior to the image, or you can have one line of text above or below the image, etc. When an image is a crucial part of the book, you do your best to work with it. But for decorative touches, I didn’t want to use an image that may cause such issues.

So I went with wide, short images. These don’t take up much space vertically. You can see one of these pictures in the previous section. (An alternative would be a glyph, padded on the sides so it doesn’t blow up to full-width on certain devices.)


Another design choice is which sections to include in the front matter. Some people move the copyright notice and table of contents to the back matter in order to maximize the potential of the Look Inside. A few cram extra stuff into the Look Inside, hoping to make it easier for customers to reach that 10% mark, so crucial for Kindle Unlimited. Neither of these reasons appealed to me.

I included a short, basic copyright notice in the front. I feel that customers generally expect to see this; it’s a standard part of a book; I didn’t want its absence to stand out, and I believe its inclusion, if done well, can help signify that professional touch. Virtually nobody will read the copyright page, but everyone will notice it briefly while passing by (except when they first open the book in a Kindle, where Amazon starts the book after this position; but I’m more worried about the customer on Amazon’s website, checking out the Look Inside).

I also opted to include the table of contents in the front. This book has 88 pages of puzzles. I didn’t want to include 88 entries in the table of contents. So I divided the table of contents up into Puzzles 1-8, 9-16, 17-24, etc.


Both the copyright notice and table of contents in this book are centered. For a multi-level table of contents, I would format it left aligned (ragged right) instead, and use indents (through styles) for the various levels. I might use left alignment for most tables of contents, in general, but if you look at this puzzle book, very much of it is centered (including the puzzles), so this kind of fits.

Many traditionally published books center the copyright page, while others are justified and yet others are left aligned (ragged right). In the past, I’ve often used justified or left alignment for the copyright page, and I’ve often noted formatting issues on one or more devices. For example, the last word (like the line with the title or subtitle) might wind up on a line all by itself, or when justified, there can be some large gaps (or one line might not even justify, in the extreme cases). These problems tend to occur more with many copyright pages, and if you include it in the Look Inside, you want this section to look good. Some of these issues can be avoided with proper centering. (Don’t center each sentence of your notice; put it all in one centered paragraph; but the title lines and copyright date lines need to be on their own lines.)


If you have any lengthy chapter titles, headings, or subheadings (for large fonts on small screens, it doesn’t have to really seem ‘lengthy’), you can run into similar issues, deciding between centered or left aligned. (Definitely, don’t justify the headings.) (Another thing to note is that left alignment, i.e. ragged right, can sometimes be a little tricky to pull off if you upload a Word document; it’s more reliable if you just go a quick step beyond Word, as shown later in this article.)


Sometimes, it pays to force a break to avoid a bad break. For example, the authors are listed as Carolyn Kivett & Chris McMullen. I spread this onto three lines (with the & on its own line). Why? Because on a smaller screen or with a larger font size selected by the user, we could wind up with Carolyn Kivett & Chris showing on one line and McMullen on the next line, which would look unnatural. Separated on three lines avoids that possibility. You can’t do such things with body text, but everywhere else you can keep such things in mind.

But be careful. If you take something too long and break it in half, you might get bad breaks in between. For example, suppose you have two short sentences and decide to place each on its own line. This sounds good until you see the last word of the first sentence wind up on the second line all by its lonesome on a smaller screen or with a larger font.

Remember, don’t try to force breaks in body text paragraphs. It will surely backfire on some devices.


Novels and most nonfiction should have indents, but no spaces between paragraphs, in the body text. (But the first chapter of each paragraph is ordinarily not indented.)

My example is a puzzle book. The puzzles themselves are centered, as is much of the front matter. I formatted the Introduction with block paragraphs, i.e. it has space between paragraphs, but no indents. This isn’t your standard nonfiction book, so these block paragraphs fit in with the design.

Definitely, don’t use indents and block paragraphs, or your book will stand out, probably not in a positive way; readers just aren’t accustomed to that.

Readers expect novels and most nonfiction to have indents, but no space between paragraphs. A few kinds of technical books, for example, tend to have block paragraphs (space between, but no indents). If you have a nonfiction book, see what’s common among very similar books.


One of the challenges in designing a puzzle book or a workbook is that in print, answers are usually collected in the back. That’s just incredibly inconvenient in an e-book.

It’s more convenient to use footnotes for the answers. Unfortunately, if you publish a workbook or puzzle book with answers in both print and digital editions, this would entail much restructuring. (But if you’re really handy with programming, you might be able to restructure your book efficiently that way. I actually went into Excel and efficiently restructured the book there to move the hints and answers from the back of the book into their respective puzzles, but let me warn you, it’s much more straightforward to restructure this with programming than to do it with Excel.)

Another challenge with puzzles and workbooks is that you can’t write in an e-book (well, maybe you could create an ‘app’ instead of a ‘book’). A crossword puzzle, word search, or Sudoku puzzle can’t be ‘read’ as a ‘book,’ for example. But you can do a word scramble in your head.

My biggest struggle with this book was that each puzzle contains 6 word scrambles plus a theme (also scrambled). Since all 7 words go together, it really makes sense for all 7 words to lie on a single page. That’s the way it looks in print (the print edition also includes nice visual decoration). But it’s a big problem for Kindle.

The only way to guarantee that all 7 word scrambles for each puzzle would appear on a single ‘screen’ in Kindle is to format the entire page as an image, but then it wouldn’t likely be readable on a great many devices. Unfortunately, one or more words for a puzzle will go onto the following screen on smaller devices, or any device with a large enough font size selected.

I could have tightened the space between puzzles, but I preferred to add space between the lines of each puzzle (using Space Before, in the styles, not with the Enter key), as readability is important to help focus on one word scramble at a time.

I made a draft without using page-breaks at all, and I rather liked how that looked and read, but in the final product, I included page-breaks. Since each puzzle has a theme, a page-break seemed the natural way to collect the themes together.


I took a few quick and simple steps to improve the Kindle formatting.

Below, I show you exactly what I did and how I did it.

You can follow the same steps. Really, there is nothing to learn. You just have to follow directions. 🙂

It will improve the formatting.


In Word, Save As a filtered webpage (don’t choose single-file webpage), then open the file in Notepad. (An alternative is Sigil, which can help you create an epub, but there is a learning curve for using Sigil.) I’ll describe minimal changes to look for in Notepad. Don’t open the filtered webpage in Word.

If your file has images, there is another step to take before you open the file in Notepad. Find the file on your computer (in My Documents, or wherever you saved the filtered webpage). Right-click on the file, click Send To > Compressed (zipped) folder. This creates two folders: one with images and one zipped folder. Find the image folder (you may have scroll to the top) and drag it into the zipped folder (both folders have the same name as the filtered webpage file).

When you want to edit the file in Notepad, open the filtered webpage, and after saving the filtered webpage, find it and drag it into the zipped folder to replace the old file.


When you open the filtered webpage in Notepad, you find the styles at the top.

I delete the font definitions: Everything beginning with /* Font Definitions */ and just before /* Style Definitions */.

I next improve the styles that you find under /* Style Definitions */.

Be careful to type everything exactly (or use copy/paste, as typos here can create havoc). Don’t forget the semi-colon (;) at the end of each line.

The top of each style (Normal, Heading 1, etc.) should include:


Exceptions: (1) When you want to include space before a paragraph, change margin-top from 0in to 2em, for example, where an ’em’ is a helpful unit in typography. (2) When you want to a create a block indent, e.g. for quotes, change margin-left and/or margin-right to 2em. This indents every line from the left (or right, or both), not just the first line.

For styles where you want a page-break before (perhaps a chapter heading style), include this line in the style definition:


Control paragraph alignment and indents with lines like these in the styles:


The word justify could also be left or center, depending on how you want that style to be aligned. Heading styles are often centered. Most body text is usually justified.

Set text-indent to 0 for any paragraph that you don’t want to be indented. While zero doesn’t work in Word, it does work here.

For the Normal style or any other styles that you do want indented, I recommend 2em (two em’s), as in


This way, your indent size will depend on the font size that the user selects. While a percentage seems like it would better match the screen size, it comes out way too big in the Look Inside, which is your main selling feature.

However, you should control the font size with a percentage, such as


Regular body text should be 100%. I used 150% for headings.

I remove all mention of font families by changing these lines to:


You should only have the closing brace } if this is the last line of the style’s definition.

There are other changes that I make, and other things I do to clean up my file; I’m taking a minimalist approach here to keep things simple.


Find the paragraphs that call your images. One way to format them better is like this:

<img style=”width: 100%; height: auto;” width=”2048″ height=”342″ alt=”” src=”Filename/Picname.jpg”>

Only include the “width: 100%; height: auto;” if you want the image to fill the width of the screen. (Note that older Kindles automatically fill the width anyway, so if you don’t want an image to zoom full screen, you should pad it instead.)

Don’t use 2048 and 342. Use whatever size the image is (most likely, if you have multiple images, they will differ in size; find the sizes of your images).

It may seem redundant to also include the width and height size if also setting the width to 100%, but this may speed things up on some devices.

Word can resize your images on you, so you should check the point values in the HTML and also in your compressed image folder. If it was resized, you can delete an image from the compressed image folder within the compressed zipped folder and copy/paste it back in (based on your original).

If the src= part at the end doesn’t specify your file location correctly, the image won’t display in the Kindle e-book. (So you should check every picture when you preview it.)

The img style should be part of a paragraph, like:

You’ll probably have a p class instead of a div class. I use the Replace tool in Notepad to change every <p into <div and every </p into </div throughout the file.


There are more things you can change, but again I’m trying to keep the changes to a minimum for simplicity.

If you want to see how clean your Word file is, try using the Find tool and looking for span, font, color, <br, clear all, and things like that. If you have a lot of spans (other than endnotes), it probably means you had a habit of highlighting text or paragraphs and applying formatting to what’s highlighted. The more you get in the habit of using styles for paragraph formatting, the more that will reduce those spans. Those breaks (br) and clear all’s can arise from manual page breaks, Enters, etc.; these come out cleaner when you build the page-break into the header style and when you use Space Before in the paragraph style instead of using the Enter key (don’t add these features to every style; just figure our which kinds of paragraphs should have space before and add it to paragraphs of those styles). If you find the word font (other than in your style definitions), it probably means that you highlighted text or paragraphs and selected a font style, size, or color. Try to break that habit (except when you need a portion of a paragraph, rather than the entire paragraph, to format differently).


It’s worth browsing through your p-tags. They begin <p class=, such as <p class=MsoNormal>, unless you changed all the p tags to div tags like I do, then you’ll have things like <div class=MsoNormal> or whatever you called the style.

Your HTML will tend to produce more consistent and predictable results if you don’t have overrides in your paragraph tags. Examples of overrides in your paragraph tags include <p class=MsoNormal align=center> or <p class=MsoNormal style=’text-indent:.3in’>. These are contradictions. The Normal style says to justify, while your p tag says to align center. Unfortunately, when you have contradictions like this, the Look Inside doesn’t always choose the way you’d like.

These contradictions come about when you don’t use the styles religiously. If you highlighted a paragraph and changed the alignment to center, you create a p tag like <p class=MsoNormal align=center>. What you should have done is create a centered style and simply associate that style with the paragraph to create a p tag like <p class=Center>. Similarly, don’t highlight a paragraph and change First Line for the highlighted text, as that creates a p tag like <p class=MsoNormal style=’text-indent:.3in’>. The better thing is to create a new style with the indent you need, then simply associate that style with the paragraph. If you see overrides in your paragraph tags, you want to change your habit of formatting highlighted paragraphs and use the styles instead. That will give you the most reliable formatting.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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Styles: The Secret for Word to Kindle

Word to Kindle

Microsoft Word’s Styles

There are five simple rules to follow to achieve very good Kindle formatting from Microsoft Word:

  1. Don’t use the tab key for anything.
  2. Don’t use two or more consecutive spaces (not even after a period).
  3. Don’t press the Enter key three or more times in a row.
  4. Use Word’s styles for any and all formatting that can be done through the styles (including indents—yes, it is possible).
  5. Avoid special characters and formatting that may not be supported on all devices.

The first three rules are really easy to follow. If you didn’t, you can use Word’s search and replace feature to easily remove tabs, extra spaces, or extra Enters. (Tab removal: Make a tab, cut it and paste it into the find field and leave the replace field blank. Double-space removal: Type two spaces and replace with one space, then repeat this find until no matches are found. Triple Enter removal: Click More > Special > Paragraph Mark three times to create three Enters in the find field and replace with two enters; repeat as needed.)

Rule 4 is critical toward achieving consistent Kindle formatting from Word. How to do this is the focus of this article.

The last rule just requires a little research. Beware that some fancy features, like dropcaps, are supported on many devices, but don’t format properly on all devices. When in doubt, simple works better.

Using Word’s Styles

The secret to good Kindle formatting is to apply any and all formatting through Microsoft Word’s styles.

Don’t apply formatting directly to highlighted text or paragraphs—not even for first line indents.

Instead, set the formatting in a style and apply the style to the paragraphs (or text).

You can find Microsoft Word’s styles on the right-half of the Home ribbon at the top of the screen. (These instructions are specifically for Microsoft Word 2010, which is similar to 2007 and 2013, for Windows.)

Styles Location

Note: Some styles (e.g. Normal) apply to entire paragraphs, other styles (like Emphasis) apply to text, and yet others can apply to either. The distinction is important because if you highlight just some text and apply a paragraph style, it will modify the entire paragraph rather than just the selected text. You can tell what a style applies to by clicking the little arrow-like icon below where it says Change Styles. Then look next to the style name to see if it has a paragraph symbol, an ‘a,’ or both.

Styles MenuStyles Options

Modify Word’s Styles

Right-click a style on the Home ribbon in order to modify it.

For Kindle e-book formatting, leave the color set to Automatic in the Normal style (because a customer might choose to read in night or sepia mode, for example). You needn’t set a font, as the customer will choose the font from his/her device, though if you do pick a font, using a very common font like Georgia is apt to work best (but, again, the customer gets to control the font from his/her device).

Apply the font style, font size, linespacing, indents, and all other formatting through Word’s styles.

Don’t highlight text or paragraphs and apply formatting directly to the text.

Instead, modify a style to suit your needs and apply that style to selected paragraphs (or, when applicable, highlighted text).


Style Modify


All styles other than Normal allow you to check a box to Automatically Update after right-clicking and choosing Modify. This is convenient to apply changes to that style throughout your document.

How to Indent Paragraphs for Kindle

Not with the tab key!

Not using the spacebar!

Not by going into the paragraph menu and using first line indent. Close, but no cigar!

Instead, right-click the Normal style, then:

  1. Choose Modify > Format > Paragraph.
  2. Change Special to First Line.
  3. Set the value to 0.2″ or so (definitely, not 0.5″ as that’s huge on a small screen).
  4. Apply the style to paragraphs you want formatted this way.

How to not Indent

Not indenting is even trickier.

Kindle automatically indents non-indented paragraphs.

So the trick is to copy the Normal style and give it a different name, like NoSpacing (don’t put a space in the name). This new style will be modified and used for non-indented paragraphs.

To copy a style, click the little arrow-like icon below Change Styles at the right of the Home ribbon to pull up the styles menu. Find the three buttons at the bottom of this menu (this menu pops up at the right side of your screen). Click the left button (of these three buttons) to add a new style. Choose the style you want this based on (pick Normal). Name the style (e.g. NoSpacing). Modify the style as needed.

Modify this new style as follows: Click Format > Paragraph, change Special to First Line and set the indent to 0.01″ (not smaller).

Note: Setting this to zero will backfire!

As always, modify the style and apply the style to the paragraphs. Don’t apply First Line Indent directly to paragraphs.

The first paragraph of the chapter is typically not indented. This is typical of most traditionally published books.

Stand-alone, non-centered lines like subheadings or lines from your table of contents also need to be non-indented. There are typically many such lines throughout the book. Remember, if they appear non-indented in Word, they’ll be automatically indented on Kindle.

Unless you apply the NoSpacing style to those paragraphs.

Indenting isn’t an issue with centered text, e.g. using styles like Heading 1 that center text.

Page Breaks

You can even use Word’s styles to create page breaks.

You should be using Heading 1 to create your chapter headings.

If you want each chapter to automatically start on a new page, and if you only apply Heading 1 where you want to begin a new page, you can remove all of your current page breaks and instead implement them through Word’s styles.

Right-click on Heading 1 to modify it. Choose Format > Paragraph > Line and Page Breaks and check the box for Page Break Before.

Why Do You Need to Use Styles?

When you upload your file to KDP, it gets converted to a .mobi file.

In this conversion, KDP reads your Word file as an HTML file (yes, even if you upload a Word document).

The top of your Word’s HTML (even if you don’t upload an HTML file, this still applies to you) defines all of Word’s styles.

If you highlight selected text or paragraphs and apply formatting directly to them, you introduce formatting contradictions: The styles say one thing, while the specific paragraphs or text says another. This confusion can lead to inconsistent formatting in the all-important Look Inside or on specific devices.

If you only apply formatting through the styles, then you won’t have contradictions, which leads to more consistent formatting.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, Author of Kindle Formatting Magic (now available)

Does Front and Back Matter Matter?


Front & Back Matter

Here are some points to consider when preparing the front and back matter for your self-published book:

  • Back matter can get in the way of an important page in your e-book. The very end encourages the customer to review the book.
  • Include your blog and social media url’s on your author page (with hyperlinks for your Kindle e-book). Add a note that gives readers a reason to visit your sites (e.g. free interactive map).
  • Series authors can include a short sample of the next volume at the end of each book.
  • A reader might close the Look Inside, bored with a prologue, never reaching Chapter 1, which might grab attention better. Ask yourself if you really need that prologue.
  • Use the table of contents wisely. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. is a wasted opportunity. Create short names that catch interest for fiction or that reveal content for nonfiction.
  • The more front matter you add, the longer it takes to reach Chapter 1. Ask yourself which sections you really need.
  • Short e-books might have very little writing sample to offer if there is much front matter.
  • If there is virtually no front matter, that might seem odd to the customer. Didn’t the author use other books as models?
  • Front matter must look professional to make a good impression. Nobody studies a copyright page, but when they pass by, if it doesn’t look right, it leaves an impression.
  • Publishers lead off with all kinds of too-good-to-be-true quotes. This might have merit from a well-known source, not necessarily otherwise (though they could—it really pays to know your target audience well).
  • Arguably, the most important part of the book is in Chapter 1. Come out punching with your best stuff. Unfortunately, a slow build can cost new readers. Make it easy to reach the first chapter.
  • You don’t have to have the exact same front and back matter in both your print book and e-book. An index, for example, isn’t necessary in an e-book, which doesn’t have page numbers for one, and where customers can simply search for keywords for another.
  • At CreateSpace, page number is a consideration. It can affect whether or not you can use spine text (minimum 102 pages, 130 recommended), the minimum inside margin, or how much the book costs to produce. Every page you add costs you money (unless you have fewer than 24 pages for color or 102 pages for black and white). So think about what front and back matter you really need. But if you’re between 100 and 130 pages, extra pages help you with better spine text potential. If you may be selling copies in person or to bookstores, you want front matter that looks professional and helps sell the book; and you don’t want to be missing sections that they expect to see.
  • Something cool in the front matter can attract attention, if done right. It could be a nontrivial effect with formatting or professional design marks, for example, but it has to look like it belongs there. For an e-book, add a short GIF image (important with text, since the background may not be white) with a publisher logo beside a few lines of text. You ordinarily see images below and above text, not wrapped beside it, so it could be that professional touch that makes the difference. See my example below (the logo was designed by Melissa Stevens).

Math Fluency

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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How to Insert a Dropcap in a Textbox in Microsoft Word

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Drop Cap in Textbox in Word

It’s not easy to insert a drop cap into a textbox in Microsoft Word. (Inserting a drop cap at the beginning of a chapter is easy; doing it in a textbox is another matter.)

If you try the intuitive thing, it doesn’t work: Highlight the first letter of the textbox, go to the Insert tab, and the Dropcap button is grayed out. You can’t click it.

Fortunately, there is a way around this problem.

The trick is to join three textboxes together (actually, I prefer to use WordArt for the drop cap, but in Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013, the distinction is fairly moot).

As long as you’re using a textbox, using three textboxes really isn’t a problem. Just group them together when you’re done and you’ll have a single object for your end result.

Here are the step-by-step directions, then following these you can find some screenshots that illustrate key steps:

  1. Put the first letter in its own textbox. You may prefer WordArt for the single letter. Use Insert > Text Box or Insert > WordArt.
  2. Put the first lines of the paragraph in one textbox. For example, if the drop cap will have a height of three lines, put the first three lines of the paragraph in one textbox.
  3. If the paragraph needs to be justified full, place your cursor at the end of the paragraph and press Shift+Enter to make the last line justified.
  4. Place the remaining lines of the paragraph in another textbox.
  5. Select each textbox and go to Format to set the Shape Fill and Shape Outline to No Fill and No Outline, respectively.
  6. Select each textbox and go to Format > Wrap Text > In Front of Text. (They need to be free-floating so you can position them. Once they are joined, you can change the text wrap to something else.)
  7. You will need to adjust the widths of your textboxes. That is, the lower textbox needs to be longer than the higher textbox.
  8. Position the textboxes to form your paragraph. Align the boxes precisely. You want even line spacing between the two parts of your paragraph, alignment at the right edge of your paragraph, and alignment between the left edge of the dropped cap and the left edge of the lower textbox.
  9. You may need to transfer words from one textbox to the other as you adjust their widths. The last line of the upper textbox can have really wide gaps, for example, if there is room for more words on that line and you used Shift+Enter. If so, transfer the first words of the lower textbox onto that line.
  10. If you used WordArt, you’ll need to format it. If you want to remove the automatic shadow effect, for example, click on the WordArt and go to Format > Text Effects > Shadow > No Shadow. You can manually format the font style instead of choosing a default effect.
  11. Ensure that the formatting of the upper and lower textboxes are identical.
  12. To make a single object, select the three textboxes and go to Format > Group > Group. To select multiple objects, grab one, then press and hold down Ctrl while selecting the others.


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Chris McMullen

Copyright © Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Microsoft Word Tutorials

Find more free Microsoft Word tutorials here:


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Pros & Cons of Publishing with Adobe

Creative Cloud

Publishing Software

Microsoft Word is easy to recommend as publishing software for a few good reasons:

  • It’s accessible. Many writers already have Word. If not, it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to find. If price is a factor, Open Office is an alternative.
  • It’s convenient. Most writers already have familiarity with how to use some of Word’s functions. It’s also fairly intuitive. When it’s not, a Google search or a question in the CreateSpace or Kindle community forum will usually help out.
  • It’s functional. It’s possible to make a very nicely formatted print book. You can set the leading, inside and outside margins, add different styles of headers and page numbers, adjust the kerning, and even deal with widows. Not everything is easy, like using section breaks to change the header style or preventing Word from compressing images, but the potential is there and it’s relatively painless once you master the tricks.
  • It’s Kindle-friendly. Using Word’s style functions, it’s possible to make a Word document that converts very well to Kindle format. KDP continues to improve this.

Adobe is considered to be more professional for publishing print books, formatting images, and converting to PDF (note that PDF isn’t very e-book friendly, while Word is, although Adobe does have software features oriented toward making e-books). It’s not that you can’t learn how to format a Word document that looks professional, but more that once you master Adobe’s features, some of the formatting features become easier to perfect in Adobe InDesign. Most book designers who are equally fluent in both Word and InDesign prefer InDesign.

Here are some of the advantages of using Adobe:

  • Acrobat XI provides many options for conversion to PDF, such as flattening transparency, selecting output resolution, and embedding fonts. Most free or low-cost Word-to-PDF converters don’t have as many options to choose from. Very often, the free and low-cost converters provide a quality conversion, but when it doesn’t work, there isn’t much you can do but look for an alternative. Sometimes, you settle for PDF output that’s not quite what you desire because you didn’t have the options you needed.
  • Acrobat XI allows you to do some editing of your PDF, which is sometimes more convenient than returning to the original source file.
  • InDesign includes many professional book formatting features, namely page layout and typography. Many of these features are more convenient in InDesign once you master how to implement them.
  • PhotoShop is professional image-editing software, great for using photos to design covers or make illustrations. Word likes to compress images unless you take pains to avoid this, while Adobe’s products make it easy to achieve high resolution.
  • Illustrator is great for drawing, illustrating, and formatting text and images together.

Adobe does come with some drawbacks:

  • There is a steep learning curve. Many of the basic features aren’t as intuitive as Word, and most writers have no experience with Adobe until they purchase it. You can get help with Adobe software, though it’s probably somewhat easier to get help with Microsoft Word simply because more people use it.
  • Some of Adobe’s software is fairly expensive compared to Microsoft Word and especially compared to Open Office. However, there is now a monthly payment option that provides instant access to just about everything.
  • You must decide among your options. Do you need PhotoShop or Illustrator for your images? Do you just need Acrobat XI to convert to PDF and edit that, or do you need InDesign to prepare your books? But if you go with the Creative Cloud, then you don’t have to decide—you get all of this and more.

There are other software programs besides Word, Open Office, and Adobe. For example, Serif Page Plus is a fairly affordable alternative.

Creative Cloud

For years, I had considered purchasing InDesign, Acrobat XI, PhotoShop, or Illustrator. But the cost was more than I wanted to invest up front, I didn’t like having to choose between programs, and until you try it out, you’re not confident that it will be worth the investment. So I continued to postpone my purchase. In the meantime, Microsoft Word was fulfilling all of my needs.

I didn’t realize that you can download a free trial of Adobe’s products. If you’re thinking about using one of these programs, you can actually try it out for a limited time and see if you like it.

A new purchasing option came about that drew my interest. You no longer need to buy the program up front. An alternative is to buy a monthly subscription. For about $20 per month with a one-year commitment, you can purchase a subscription to use one of these programs. Or for about $50 per month, you can opt for the Creative Cloud, which gives you access to all of the software programs that I’ve described, plus more. This also allows you to keep your software constantly up-to-date.

In the long run, i.e. after a few years, it may cost more than buying just the programs you need (or maybe not, since you otherwise may have invested money in updates). But what attracted me was that I didn’t need a large upfront investment to get started. For $50, I was immediately able to start using Acrobat XI, InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, TypeKit, and more. And I downloaded all of these on the first day and started exploring them avidly.

For me, this made very expensive software quite accessible. It starts to add up after several months (it’s like paying an extra cable t.v. bill), but for me it was worth it.

I wish I’d seen this option a few years ago. There were times where I would only have needed these software programs for a couple of months. I could have bought a temporary subscription (the price is higher if you don’t commit to a full year), and then not renewed it for a year or so until I next needed them.

But that’s not the case now. I’m using all of these programs avidly and will continue to do so.

That’s the big factor:

  • What are your needs? If you’ll be using these programs regularly, then it’s probably worth it. If you might just use them occasionally, the commitment may not be a good value. In that case, you might try the free download to better assess the value, or you might take the higher-priced short-term subscription to fill your temporary needs and then stop using it.
  • If you’re publishing multiple books a year, you’ll probably be using the software more. If you reach a point where you earn $1000 or more per month from net royalties, then investing 5% into professional software may be a reasonable expense. If instead you’re making like $100 per month, half your earnings are going into the software (then factor in the IRS and not much is left, although you will have substantial expenses to deduct).

One thing I like is how the Creative Cloud makes professional publishing software accessible to the self-publisher without a large upfront cost.

I was surprised when I was shopping for guides on Amazon for how to best utilize the software. I had purchased the Creative Cloud directly from Adobe. When I was shopping for guides, I discovered that I could have supported Amazon with my purchase (it was the same price at the time).

What was shocking was that Creative Cloud had 35 reviews with an average of two stars (**). The top four most helpful reviews on the product page were all one-star (*) reviews.

Wait a minute. Adobe is the best publishing software, right? So why does it have all these one-star reviews?

This became apparent when I started reading the reviews. There was a great pricing debate going on. Many people who had purchased the products at full price in the past were displeased that they hadn’t been grandfathered into the Creative Cloud. Maybe I would have been upset, too.

But still. As an author, I know it’s no fun to receive low-star reviews, let alone a string of reviews that don’t say anything at all about the content of the book.

Adobe is a large company, not an indie author, but still. People, like you and I, worked on Adobe’s software. Imagine how they feel to see all those one- and two-star reviews of their hard work. Reviews that don’t describe how well the software works, but mostly focus on the pricing model. Again, I understand those reviewers’ frustration. But those reviews didn’t seem fair, and they didn’t help me as a customer to decide whether or not to make the purchase.

Fortunately, I had already made the purchase from Adobe, so those reviews didn’t have the opportunity to scare me away. Personally, the Creative Cloud is a good fit for my needs, as I’m making extensive use of it, and I’m very pleased with my purchase.

Is it the right choice for you? Maybe, maybe not. If you have Word and already have some experience with it, that’s a convenient option, too. Would you use the Adobe software often enough to get your money’s worth, and would it make a difference for you compared to Word? Those may be the questions to consider.

About Me

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Which Edition Is It?

After publishing, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll want to make changes:

  • You might discover a typo yourself, or have some pointed out to you.
  • The formatting of the Look Inside often doesn’t come out quite as expected (even if the book looks great on Kindle).
  • After writing another book, you may want to include a short sample of the first chapter at the end of your previous book.
  • You might want to add your website, email, or other author information to your books.
  • As you learn more about publishing, you may find good ideas or inspiration that you’d like to incorporate into your existing books.

Revising your book is fairly painless: You simply revise your files and resubmit them. (If you were wise enough to keep track of which version of the file was your latest file and where you saved it, that will be quite handy. The last thing you want to do is introduce mistakes by accidentally using the wrong file.)

Beware that a tiny change can create a domino effect, messing up the formatting on dozens of pages that follow. Take the time to inspect the formatting throughout the book, no matter how small the change is.

Where the fun begins is after your revise the book. You check out the product page, wondering if the changes have been made. If they occur in the beginning, you might be able to see them on the Look Inside. You might be wondering if you should buy your own book just to see if it has been corrected, but then you’ll be really disappointed if you invest in this just to discover that it hasn’t been.

Suppose a customer brings a paperback copy of your book to you. It might be handy for you to know which edition of the book that customer has read – i.e. did the customer buy it before or after you made the changes?

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: When you revise your interior file, simply place something that will show up in the Look Inside that will distinguish one version from another.

If the copyright page shows up in the Look Inside (it should, unless you move it to the back matter, which some authors and publishers do with eBooks in order to maximize the free sample), you could simply write Edition 4, for example. Then when you check out the Look Inside on Amazon, if you see Edition 3 instead, you know that the old Look Inside is still showing.

If you added new material and made corrections, you could write Revised and Expanded Edition instead of the edition number. You can even write a brief note like Revised to Include…

It’s not necessary to make it appear like a new edition has been made. If you only made a few small corrections, for example, you might not want to advertise that it has been updated. If you don’t want to advertise the update, but want to be able to tell yourself that it has been updated, then you just need to make some subtle change to the Look Inside that will help you tell which edition you’re seeing when you see your book.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon

A Look Inside that Sells

Copyright Design Pic

A fantastic cover grabs the attention of the target audience. A killer blurb arouses the curiosity of the target audience. But it’s the Look Inside that decides whether or not the shopper will buy now or pass on it.

There are two components to a stellar look inside:

  • Formatting, design marks, and imagery that suit the content and impress the reader, without distracting from the reading. Thus, many traditional publishers include designs in the front matter and first page of the chapter, but often have very plain pages where they want readers to focus on reading.
  • A sample, prologue, prelude, and first chapter that grab the interest of the target audience and compel them to keep reading. A slow beginning is for your existing fan base; only they will exercise patience, trusting that the best is yet to come. If you hope to attract browsers, you want to come out with your best stuff. (Of course, if there are spelling, grammatical, or other mistakes in the Look Inside, these often tend to have the opposite effect.)

Spend time studying the Look Insides of top selling books. You can get several great ideas this way. You don’t want to copy those ideas; just use them to see the possibilities and inspire your own design.

Following are a few examples.

Wool by Hugh Howey

  • I’m looking at the specific book from the link above and checking out the Look Inside of the paperback edition. I encourage you to also check it out and follow along.
  • It starts out with quotes about how awesome the book is. You can do this to by sending out advance review copies. If other authors or book reviewers have good things to say, get permission to use their quotes (there is also a section for editorial reviews at AuthorCentral).
  • One page has just the publisher logo.
  • Note that this author succeeded very well as an indie without Simon & Schuster.
  • The pages with the white-above-black torn image provide a wow factor. The cover wasn’t so hot; but if you Look Inside, now you might be impressed.
  • The copyright page begins with the logo and publisher info.
  • Part of the copyright page comes from stating that the book is a work of fiction and that any similarity to actual people, places, or events is coincidental; and this is separate from the copyright notice and trademark notice.
  • One line specifies the edition. The printer number won’t be relevant for eBooks or print-on-demand books, though. There is also manufacturing info.
  • Most professional books do not have the cover designer mentioned on the front cover. Instead, this information is placed on the copyright page and sometimes in fine print on the back cover.
  • A couple of notices are taking advantage of a marketing opportunity, though not for book sales.
  • Of course, there is the 13-digit ISBN.
  • Note that the copyright page is filled to the brim. Compare the copyright page of a book published by any big publisher to that of the vast majority of indie authors and there is a world of difference. It’s not that people will study your copyright page; it’s that they will see it in passing and it will make an impression – professional or amateurish.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  • Subtle stars decorate the first two pages.
  • Check out the design on the title page.
  • The next two pages are also decorative. You have to check out the designs used in this book to appreciate their effect and to help generate your own ideas.
  • This copyright page is centered.
  • See the matching designs at the beginning of each chapter and with the page numbering.

All-American Girl by Meg Cabot

  • A sample from the content is placed on the first page to attract the attention of the target audience. If you have a lot of front matter and want to move some good stuff to the beginning, this is one way to do it.
  • Note the font of the first line of the sample.
  • If you have other books, you also can list them in the front matter.
  • The title page matches the cover but in black and white, yet not exactly the same as the cover.
  • The first word of each chapter has a special font.
  • This book begins with a numbered list to try to grab attention.
  • Look at the stars with the chapter header, which match the cover design.

Bombshell by Catherine Coulter

  • Note that the cover looks like a bomb blast, not a female “bombshell.”
  • I’m looking at the Kindle edition.
  • There is a second image much different from the cover, in black and white.
  • Notice the horizontal black bars for headers.
  • There are logos on the copyright page.
  • Many traditionally published books include Library of Congress info.
  • Observe the Pearson division line at end of the page on this eBook.
  • See the image at the beginning of each chapter.

You can find many other examples of ways to make a professional look inside. Little design touches can make a huge difference (but they need to fit the genre and content – e.g. you don’t want romantic swirls on a suspenseful detective story).

Border Thin JPEG

Here are a couple of other things that you can include on the copyright page, to make up for things like the printer number or Library of Congress info that an indie book may be lacking:

  • Author information, such as your website, blog, a special email that you will check (but not your main email account), social media info, etc. One advantage self-publishing has is more potential for personal interaction with the author.
  • Information and/or website for your editor, cover designer, etc.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

How to Use the Chapter Names as Even-Page Headers in Microsoft Word


Most traditionally published books have page headers running along the top of every page (don’t confuse headers with headings; at the beginning of every section is a heading, while at the top of each page is a header).

When the author is famous, the author’s name is likely to appear on the page header. For the rest of us, it’s probably more useful to put other information here.

Many books put the chapter name on the even-numbered pages and the book title on the odd-numbered pages.

Before you get started, save your file (in two or more places, like on your jump drive and email, in case one file becomes corrupt), then save it again with a different filename. This way, you’ll have a backup of the original, just in case. A file can be messy without you realizing it and become corrupt when working with the page headers, so having a backup of the original may turn out to be valuable.

There is a trick to using different header text in each chapter of the book. It’s the same trick that’s needed to use Roman numerals and Arabic page numbers in the same file. You can find a thorough, step-by-step tutorial with screenshots by clicking here.

The main idea is to use a Next Page section break for each section or chapter where you would like the header to be different. Don’t insert an ordinary page break; going to Insert and selecting Page Break or going to Page Layout and choosing Page won’t work.

Instead, go to Page Layout and select Next Page to make the page break in a way that will tell Word that a new section is beginning.

(In Word 2003 and earlier, the menu options are somewhat different, but the main ideas are still the same. I’ll describe how to use Word 2010 for Windows, specifically, which is similar to Word 2007 and onward.)

Remove ordinary page breaks and recreate them using Next Page anywhere a new chapter is starting (or anywhere else you wish to have different header text, including no header at all, such as front and back matter).

Start at the beginning of the document and edit the headers from the first page onward. If you don’t have page headers yet, add them from the Insert menu.

Place your cursor in the header area. Check the box for different first page if you wish to have a different header in the first page of the section. It’s common, for example, for the first page of each chapter and some pages of the front matter to have no header at all.

Check the box for different odd and even pages to allow the header text of odd-numbered and even-numbered pages to be different. It’s common to have the book title on odd-numbered pages and the chapter name on even-numbered pages.

The first section should be fairly easy, especially if you didn’t already have headers in place to begin with.

When you get to the second section, where you want the headers to be different, place your cursor in the header area and look for the ‘magic’ Link to Previous button. When you click this, the Same As Previous flag will disappear. This allows you to create a new header in this section (instead of copying the header from the previous section; more precisely, to avoid having the previous section change as you type the new header).

You needed those Next Page section breaks (instead of ordinary page breaks) to tell Word where each new section begins.

Remember to start at the beginning and work your way forward one section at a time. After you adjust a new section to your satisfaction, go back and ensure that the previous sections are still correct. If not, be thankful for that handy Undo button.

If your file is messy (it won’t look messy to you on the screen if it is), sometimes Word seems to be a little fussy about the page headers. If Word seems uncooperative, try undoing everything you did in the new section. Then remove the section break at the beginning of the new section, and reinsert it. See if that helps.

Sometimes you can play with it and persistence will pay off.

If you have a richly formatted book, or if the file is otherwise messy (again, without your knowledge), occasionally persistence makes the file even messier or it can become corrupt. (If you saved all of the section breaks and headers until your file was otherwise complete and went section by section systematically through the book, it may help to avoid these troubles.)

One solution to a corrupt file is reverting back to the original you saved as a backup prior to adjusting the headers.

A messy file can be cleaned up by stripping out the formatting. For example, copy and paste everything into Notepad and then copy and paste it into a new Word document. This is not a good option for a file that has numerous pictures, equations, bullets, instances of italics, or other formatting. And if the file mostly contained plain text, it was less likely to get so messy in the first place.

Opening the backup and trying the headers again may be worth the hassle (and far less hassle than stripping out the formatting for a richly formatted book), and it may work out better the second time.

In the worst-case scenario that you just can’t get the headers to cooperate, the simple way around this when your ultimate goal is to create a PDF file is to break your Word document up into smaller files (e.g. one file for each chapter, provided that the chapter count is reasonable). Then it will be easy to make different headers for each chapter.

In this case, you’ll have to manually start the page numbering from the previous chapter by inspection. If you make any revisions to your book, you’ll have to update the page numbering.

If you split the Word file into separate files, you’ll need a Word to PDF converter that allows you to compile separate PDF files together. With the number of free PDF converters available online, there is a good chance you can find one that fits your needs that has this option (but beware of possible viruses or spyware anytime you download programs from the internet).

Many books have been prepared in Word as a single file that have different headers for each chapter. Chances are that you’ll be able to do this in Word with your book, too, without having to resort to any drastic measures.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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