Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Format Your E-Book For Kindle: The Expansion Instructions for the Code-Writing Inept

WHILE WORKING long hours to make sure YEAR OF THE TIGER meets its deadline...

Creating Your E-book for Kindle Expansion Instructions

Most beneficial for Microsoft Word-Windows Users, although the websites cited will contain information MAC and other PC users require.

Publishing your manuscript through Amazon's Kindle Program seems like a dream...until you open the Kindle Previewer and realize your spacing is horribly off, paragraphs are justified randomly, and extreme tabbing mode appears to be on. Readers are going to be viewing the E-Book on small enough iPhone screens already. You close your eyes in frustration. 

Then you notice the trio of buttons on the ribbon of the Kindle Previewer: Cover Image, Table of Contents, and NCX view. The first two are self-explanatory. The third, NCX view, is a Kindle navigational file which will allow readers to easily jump to different "navigational points" in your Ebook in addition to the Table of Contents-- such as to Acknowledgements or to the Index. When you click on any of these buttons, however, you are informed that they are missing. Now you are really leaning forward in your chair with a big "HUH?" 

You followed Amazon's Building Your Book for Kindle perfectly (this free Kindle download is also available in a 20-page PDF format for laptops). It outlined the steps to prepare your Microsoft Word document for Kindle: how to format the paragraphs, insert page breaks, creating a Table of Contents... But now you need to clean up your manuscript. If you turn on the Show/Hide Paragraph Marks icon (¶) located in the center of the Ribbon (MS Word's top all-inclusive toolbar) under the HOME tab, you will see accidental double spaces and a whole host of other problems appear in your manuscript. 

Who do you need to turn to for an easy check-off list of punctuation marks to clean up? I heartily refer you to "CJs Easy As PieKindle Tutorials," in which "CJ" has compiled a library of essential information to make your Ebook ready for publication. The clean-up Microsoft Word post is here. Use your "Replace" tool located at the far right end of the Home tab to find and replace all of those nasty double spaces, weird paragraph alignments, and wayward tabs. Check out the Kindle Preview now. Better? Hell yeah it is. Did you click on the "Cover Image"/"Table of Contents"/"NCX view" on the top ribbon of the Kindle Previewer and still find them missing? The following free E-book Reader programs will ensure the Kindle Platform will identify them. CJ's website can also walk you through the process, and includes a great explanation of the NCX file in this guest article by Araby Greene.


Sigil is an Ebook editor that has been around since 2009. The program is free for download, although donations are definitely accepted. They feature user guides to help you on your way to create an EPUB document out of your manuscript, denote a Cover Image, and write the Metadata, which will establish the Table of Contents and NCX view, without you  having to write any separate coding files. After you have saved your Microsoft Word manuscript as an HTML "Web Page, Filtered" document, start here to create your E-book publication in Sigil, which will then be saved on your computer as a EPUB document. Important things to check: 

1. You have added an existing file "Cover Image" to your Sigil manuscript.
2. You have right-clicked on the Cover Image, and using the Semantics option, have identified it as "Cover Image"
3. You have inserted the Cover Image into the start of your document.
4. (Optional) Under Edit, you selected MetaEditor and decreed basic copyrights, title, ect.
5. You have generated a TOC (Table of Contents) from the Headings.*Very Important* Underneath the TOC in the Book Browser, you can see the different code files Sigil is creating for your Ebook.
6. You have saved it as an EPUB document.

There are a number of different options, too, such as creating chapter breaks to make your book easier to organize. However, since you established page breaks in Microsoft Word, this is not mandatory, nor does it hurt the final layout if you do. Now we need to convert this EPUB document into the MOBI format required for Kindle.

Calibre E-Book Management

Calibre is another free E-Book reader for download (donations accepted) that can be used to read E-Book files as well as convert them and play with the Metadata. This program should be used as the final stepping stone toward the polished, ready-to-read E-Book. Again, these great people have also created a user manual to become familiar with the program here. To quickly convert your E-Book, follow this succinct article by Paul Brookes:

 Here is the essential gist of how to convert your E-Book from EPUB format to MOBI: 

1. Add your book to the Calibre Library using the button on the top left corner of the Ribbon.

2. After you Add your book and select it, you can click on the Convert books option on the ribbon. This will open a window. 

3. On the top left, you see the current format of your book: EPUB. On the far right, you can see a range of options to convert your E-Book to. Once of them is a MOBI document. 

4. After you select MOBI, and then CONVERT, Calibre will show it is creating the finished MOBI product in the little JOBS box on the bottom right corner of the screen. 

5. After the JOB is finished, you can have your final E-Book MOBI document in your Calibre Library. Open Kindle Previewer and click through the now familiar "Cover Image"/"Table of Contents"/"NCX View" buttons on the top ribbon. One by one, they will all pop up! Preview the rest of your E-Book. Looks good?* You are ready to launch it on Kindle. 

Note on the final Kindle uploading process

You've uploaded your manuscript. Wahoo! Now, will ask you to select your Cover Image for upload. You have followed the Kindle instructions to have a Cover Image that is at 600x800 pixels so it will look awesome. (Or maybe you're wondering on how to make your own Cover Image in the first place. I will have a post on that next.) However, when you upload the image, the little preview it shows you looks blurry and distorted. Is this the thumbnail that readers will see when browsing for your book?? NO. If you used the Kindle Previewer, and the cover image appeared sharp and clear, then don't worry-- the cover thumbnail will, too. The best part about publishing with There is flexibility, if you upload your final copy and realize mistakes have been made. You can reload images or MOBI manuscripts.

It has been the goal of this post to provide a compilation of resources for aspiring E-Book authors. An enormous thank you to the creators of these resources, I cannot give you enough credit! Good luck on your writing projects, everyone!


1. Amazon Kindle. Building Your Book for Kindle., Inc., April 15, 2012, accessed 12/27/2012, 

2. Brookes, Paul. "Converting files with Calibre (Kindle)." eBook Conversion, 2011, accessed 12/27/2012,

3. "CJs Easy As Pie Kindle Tutorials.", 2012, accessed 12/27/2012, 
4. Goyal, Kovid. "Calibre User Manual." Calibre - E-book management, December 21, 2012, accessed 12/27/2012,

 5. Sigil: The EPUB Editor. "Sigil User Manual 0.6.0 Draft." Sigil - The EPUB Editor, 2012, accessed 12/27/2012, 

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