It seems that each time an ARC is created from a Word doc into Kindle MOBI a number of formatting errors appear. Amazon and CreateSpace have instructions on how to eliminate some common problems that will prevent a title from being accepted but, from experience, the guidelines do not cover every issue that may arise.
Part of the problem is that there seems to be as many different ways of creating a manuscript writing as there are authors. Some of us old timers started writing on typewriters and, at some point, graduated to word processors well before the advent of programs designed for personal computers. Since each word processor had its own set of rules, personal style was influenced by the hardware used. This created a lot of habits that complicate the use of Microsoft Word for producing a manuscript.
Here is a non-inclusive list of the known issues author can address and fix in advance of submitting a final version of a manuscript for editing and eventual publication. This list assumes you are using Microsoft Word, but it may apply to other, similar programs like Open Office.
- Do not use tabs when indenting. This throws off the spacing in an eBook.
- Use left justification only. At some point in the finishing stages of the editing process the document will be set for left and right adjustment.
- Do not use spaces to indent. Again this throws off spacing in an eBook.
- Regardless of what you were taught in school about two spaces between sentences, that is only used for scholarly work and is not done in novels. In the past typesetters charged by the character, including spaces, so publisher saved money by minimizing the use of spaces.
- Ensure there are no extra spaces at the end of a paragraph.
- Ensure there are no extra spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
- Ensure there are no extra spaces between words throughout the document. A useful tool for finding extra spaces with Word is showing hidden characters. In the most recent version of MS Word it is turned on automatically when you show paragraph ends. Look for the paragraph symbol in the tool bar.
- Set the ruler in MS Word to automatically indent the number of necessary spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
- Set up the Page Properties to single space between paragraphs. If your manuscript is later set to double space, as it should be for greater ease of editing throughout the process, when the document is converted, so will the spacing between paragraphs. Then, when it is converted to single space for publication, there will not be an extra 1 ½ lines between paragraphs (which is MS Word’s default). Word is designed mainly for business use. For writing a novel it must be adjusted.
- Book titles and chapter headers that are centered on the page need to be adjusted so that the centering is from the margin edge not the set paragraph indent. This also applies to any special characters used to indicate a change of scene in the body of a chapter. Also End or The End, if you have concluded your manuscript in that way, need to be centered from the margin not the indent.
- Now, here’s the biggy. Between chapters in a manuscript you will need to insert a page break. This forces the Kindle Conversion to start your next chapter at the top of a fresh page. Otherwise your next chapter will appear immediately after, as in the next line, following the concluding sentence of the previous chapter. Still, that may not be enough. If your chapter ends on the last line of the previous page, you will need to insert the page break at the top of the ensuing page, followed by a new line. For the sake of having the beginning of chapters look consistent through a book on Kindle, it may be necessary to insert a new line after each instance of a page break. A page break should be used on the title page, the dedication page, table of contents page and each blank page you wish you have in the body of the manuscript. If the table of contents page is longer than a single page allow the document to flow onto the ensuing page. Set the page break at the conclusion of the last page of the table of contents.
If manuscripts are created according to these standards or adjusted to them prior to submitting to a publisher in the editing process it will significantly reduce the amount of time and effort required for finding all the formatting issues created in the Kindle conversion process. Generally speaking, if the manuscript is set up for Kindle, the CreateSpace conversion will also go more smoothly, as will conversions to ePub and other eBook and print formats.