Stop Pulling Your Hair Out – Steps to Easy E-formatting

Distressed Woman FreeDigital Photos Dot NetSome authors I have come to know are having some issues formatting their novels for ebooks. I can help with that.

If you are not an author, this post will probably not be interesting to you. You can stop right here. Maybe you missed last week’s post on Fifty Shades? Here it is.

Okay, so the rest of you still reading are interested in ebook formatting.

This discussion will not involve anything too fancy, I have never embedded pictures, for example, so the following instructions will not include that.

For those who want to include charts, graphs, pictures and other neat stuff, you might want to leave too. But what about this cool post on aphorisms? The French particularly liked them, as pointed out by one very dapper Frenchman. Here it is.

More disclaimer. These instructions are for Kindle only. They will show you how to prepare a file that can be uploaded directly to Amazon. If you are interested in some other ebook venue, such as Smashwords, don’t read any further. Although I am going to prepare a post on my findings about how easy (or not) that is, when I actually attempt to do it for Perigee Moon. For you folks, how about a fun post on malapropisms? Here it is.

These instructions are for Microsoft Word only. I don’t use anything else, and I don’t know anything else. So if you don’t use MS Word, stop here. You might want to visit another popular post. Why not take a look at my most popular post ever, about euphemisms? Here it is.

All-righty then. The rest of you must be authors, interested in easy eformatting your MS Word manuscript for the Amazon Kindle.

Clicking right here will bring up a conveniently already formatted short novel in Microsoft Word, which is installed on your computer, or you would not still be here (see above). Note that it contains a version of filler text called “Cupcake“, a much more appealing Lorem Ipsum. Fun-filled with treats to brighten your day, instead of boring Latin.

Here’s what you need to do with the document you’ve just opened.

Change the first page, for your title and author name.

Next is the copyright page Insert your name here and ISBN.

The optional Thank You page is next.

I have also included another page for miscellany, sometimes a quote, a snippet of text, a poem is nice. Or it can be a subtitle. It can be anything you want.

If you need more pages, simply copy/paste this last page. Or delete as needed. There is already a Page Break inserted after each of the four pages, but if you add pages, make sure there is a Page Break immediately following the last word on the page. It must be a page break, which is on the Insert tab. On my system it is the third icon from the left.

The Table of Contents is next but leave this alone for now, until all your chapters have been formatted. Click on the Word Insert tab and then the Bookmark icon and note that there are two bookmarks set up. One for “toc” and one for “start”. These are recommended by the Kindle people. Readers will be able to use the “Go to” features and jump to a chapter or go to the beginning because of these bookmarks. You don’t have to do anything with them.


I have included three chapters. Duplicate for as many chapters as you have.

Label each chapter heading with your chapter title.

Insert your chapter text.

A bit about Styles. You can create a Style in word and apply it to a paragraph or a block of text. I have created three styles that make up the chapters and they are included in this template.

  • First paragraph (leaves a large space between the chapter title and the first paragraph, .5 in. indent).
  • New Section (leaves one blank line between paragraphs, .5 indent).
  • Normal with Indent (.5 indent with no special spacing).

These three are all you need, but you can add more if desired.

Click on the Change Styles down arrow. It is quite tiny (thanks Microsoft for being so intuitive) but here is where you click, by the red and yellow arrow I have inserted. This will bring up the Styles window in the sidebar.


Select the first paragraph of your first chapter and apply the First Paragraph style.

Select all remaining paragraphs in the first chapter and apply the Normal with Indent style.

Go back through the chapter and replace any paragraphs that start a new section with the New Section style. This is not required. Note: Instead of a separate style, you can also use symbols (such as ***) between paragraphs to denote a new section but make sure that this is center-justified to ensure that it appears in the center of the Kindle page.

Repeat for all the chapters.

There is a Disclaimer page at the end with the usual blah-blah.

Now return to the Table of Contents, place your cursor anywhere inside it and hit F9. This updates the Table of Contents with your chapters.

That’s pretty much it. You can either upload the Microsoft Word .docx file directly to Kindle or save it as Web Page, Filtered (which creates an .html file) and upload to

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

21 thoughts on “Stop Pulling Your Hair Out – Steps to Easy E-formatting

  1. Hi Lynn, so generous of you to provide this step by step.
    I, unfortunately, am one of those currently in e-book pub hell. I decided to publish to all e-book formats at once, and let’s just say the formatting has taken years off my life!
    I can only hope that when this is done, I get a few good blogs out of the experience like you.

  2. Okay, they may take the bulk of my earnings, but it’s times like these I’m grateful I had a small press to do all this for me. But I shall bookmark your page should I ever undertake this myself. My hat’s off to those of you who pulled this off alone.

  3. GREAT information. I’m bookmarking this for future reference. By the way, for Smashwords formatting, there are detailed step-by-step instructions on the Smashwords website. I used their “nuclear” option for my book and had no problem formatting.

      • I’ve sold almost no books via Smashwords. However, it’s convenient for contest giveaways. All you have to do is generate a coupon and give that code to your contest winner. Then they can download your book. Once it’s downloaded, you remove the coupon.

  4. Thanks, Lynn! I’ve bookmarked this to use when my WIP (or technically the book that’s still all in my head) is ready. I NEED someone to give me step-by-step instructions on technical stuff. Went through iUniverse on the first one, so I didn’t need to do this, but I’d like to publish less expensively next time.

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