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How to Format a Book for Kindle

Young woman wearing a golden alice band in her hair looking on digital tablet or e-book device lying on her bed on a red and white polka dot bedspread.

Kindle Direct Publishing [KDP] has some specific file requirements which must be followed if you want to publish on this platform. Knowing how to format a book for Kindle is easy to do thanks to these helpful tips.

#1. Format your text properly.

Insert indents at the beginning of each new paragraph. Don’t use spacing or the Tab button to create these indents. On the page layout tab in Microsoft Word [and similar programs], there’s a paragraph formatting command that allows you to set special commands. Set it to “first line,” give it a 0.5-inch indentation, and you’ll be able to avoid this common publishing issue.

#2. Create empty space between paragraphs.

You will also want to set your indent for after spacing to a 10-point space. This will allow your document to appear correctly on all Kindle platforms. You will also want to enter a page break at the end of every chapter to prevent having all of your content run together.

#3. Actually insert any images you intend to use.

Kindle does not accept pasted images into a document very well. Even when you use the center alignment for the image, it may cause formatting issues for the final publication that can be uncomfortable for the reader. Insert a JPEG file in center alignment instead for the best possible results.

#4. Footers and headers should not be used.

If you’re submitting a manuscript to a traditional publisher or a literary agent, then you may need to have footers or headers in your document. When publishing with KDP, footers and headers will not display as they do on your own screens. Take them out whenever possible.

#5. Set each new chapter title under the “Heading 1” command.

Kindle supports navigational functionality within your book after it has published. By setting your chapter titles to have the Heading 1 value, then you’ll make it a lot easier for your readers to enjoy your new book in their own way.

#6. Make sure your book has the front matter it needs.

“Front matter” is defined as the content that exists between your cover and the start of your book. This might include a dedication, a copyright, a title page, or even a prologue or preface. The first page should always be your title page and that content should be centered. Add page breaks. Copyright pages should also be centered, as should dedication pages. A prologue or preface should be formatted as the first chapter of your book.

#7. Determine if you need to have a Table of Contents.

A functional Table of Contents allows a reader to skip from chapter to chapter with ease. As long as the implementation has occurred properly in Microsoft Word [or a similar word processing program or app], Kindle will recognize the formatting. Follow the instructions of your processor to setup your Table of Contents if it is needed for your book. Then set a bookmark for it so that Kindle will be able to find it.

#8. Make sure the cover meets Kindle’s specific requirements.

KDP will ask authors to upload an image for their book cover. It must be a TIF(F) or JPEG file, be 1,000 pixels on its longest size, and meet the ideal height and width ratio of 1.6. It must include the title of the book, the author’s name, and an image that is reflection of the overall story. The rest of the creative process is up to you, but you cannot use the images of others without their expressed written permission.

#9. Remember to completely edit your manuscript before publication.

The editing process for Kindle should involve four different drafts of your book. The first draft is your first creative effort. The second draft will correct obvious errors and refine the plots, scenes, and dialogue. The third edit is a line-by-line edit that corrects mistakes. The fourth and final draft should be read out loud so you can catch any final errors that may need to be corrected.

#10. Set your metadata.

The description of your book, its categories, and its targeted keywords can help a book find the right audience. Remember to update the descriptive information for your book after uploading your files so that reader searches can find it.

#11. Set your rights and pricing.

As a final step, you’ll be asked about who owns the rights to your book. You’ll also be asked about royalties and pricing. Set your rates, put in the requested information, and you’ll be ready to publish.

Knowing how to format a book for kindle is a little different than a traditional manuscript formatting standard. Follow these steps, refer to KDP for any updated guidelines, and you’ll be able to format your book so that it can be easily read.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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