1. […] Tying into this, if you’re a writer who wants to do it yourself–without an agent or a publisher, you might be interested in this post at the How to Write Shop by Lori Devoti on How to Format an Ebook starting with Microsoft Word. […]

  2. Channy

    This article is a Godsend! Thank you so much for sharing the wisdom. I am going through the steps now, and look forward to finalizing this project.

    Wishing you all the best success!


  3. Thanks, everyone. I’m glad you are finding the post useful. I just edited it to add a bit about checking for optional hyphens if you are working with a book that went through OCR/scanning, and also a bit about the TOC at Smashwords. Now if common words used in the TOC are in H1/H2…talking “prologue” “chapter” “epilogue”…Smashwords will put them into a TOC for you. You don’t have to build the manual TOC.

  4. Thank you for this interesting article and the time you took to write the process step by step.
    Two questions I have are: What is the best way to insert pictures at the end of each chapter in a way that will be accepted; also a Drop cap at the beginning of each chapter that does not rotate in the process o making an epub or other files?

  5. The image is easy. You just go to “insert/picture.” Then you can format the picture with your styles–so center them with your h1 style, etc.
    According to the Smashwords style guide you can’t use drop caps there. You can give the lead in a fancier look by instead making the first two words all caps, or making the first letter bigger than the other letters.
    You could then if you wanted to tweak your html version before creating your epub or mobi files so they included a drop cap.

  6. I have several questions:
    1. I’m not clear about hyphens. What are optional hyphens? Can I use hyphens that connect 2-3 words? What about “M” dash? If I can’t use it, what should I use instead?
    2. How do I deal with footnotes and endnotes? Where do they go? Can I use their numbers as they appear in the .doc file?
    3. What to do with text in text boxes?
    4. What about bullet points and other indented/centered items?
    5. If I can’t use tables, how do I organize information from them without using tabs?
    Very much appreciate your article. Read it several times, but could not find these details.
    Would appreciate whatever assistance you can provide. Thank you.

  7. Alexander,
    You probably don’t have optional hyphens if you created the file yourself. Where I see that most is with books that were originally in print and then scanned with OCR software. You can use regular hyphens and I haven’t ran into any problems with an em dash. I always advise checking your files after conversion to make sure those things went through fine. Smashwords lets you download the completed files for free. So it is easy to check them.
    Footnotes and endnotes. If you are using some Word created special thing for them, you might have issues. You could always just use regular numbers though, or an asterick and put them in a section titled “Footnotes” then list them by the chapter they refer to. You could also put them at the end of each chapter. I think you will have to be creative about dealing with that since you can’t put them at the bottom of certain pages like you would in a print book. (No footers or headers in your Word doc)
    Smashwords does not allow text boxes.
    Centering items is no issue. You just have to set up a style for that. I center my scene breaks and chapter heads, etc.
    I don’t know what kind of information you want to put in tables, but you don’t need tabs. Again you can set up styles that are indented–just the first line or the whole paragraph.
    I suggest you do a bit of searching to learn more about using styles with Word. I think they will help you a lot.
    Best of luck,

  8. Hi, Lori,

    Thank you so much for posting these directions! I’ve been attempting to convert my book to Kindle format since it came out in June. I followed your simple instructions and within a few hours, my book was available on Amazon in kindle format along with the original paperback format. Whoo-hoo!!

    You are the spirit of the Holiday Season! Wishing you all the best in the coming year and for years to come!

    Helen Arabanos

  9. I came across this months ago and was smart enough to “favorite” it. I’m glad I did. I finally got the file for my book of for its kindle edition after procrasinating. I just followed your instructions and it went quite smoothly. Thank you! 🙂

  10. Thanks for this it was really helpful. The only thing that I would say is that Smashwords wouldn’t let me have spaces after the paragraphs and indents at the front. I could have submitted for review but thought I should fix all the errors that site suggested and to do that I left off the space between paragraphs.
    Thanks again for the great tips.

  11. Yes, Smashwords won’t approve a line between paragraphs AND an indent. Personally, I just like an indent anyway because it looks more like what people are used to seeing in print books.

  12. Juanima

    Thanks so much for such an informative article! I’m trying to format my first ebook – a memoir I’m about to publish. I am having some trouble, though. What can I use instead of hard returns? There is zero space between chapter headings and text. That will never do! Thanks so much!! 🙂

  13. Leonard Rattini, CCP

    This would be nice to follow if it related to Microsoft Word 2010. Thank you in advance for considering it.

  14. I am using microsoft word 2007 can I still format an ebook for kindle? The only step that isn’t available on my version is save as (html) what can I do?
    Thanks Jen

  15. Word 2007 is what I use. Go to Save As/Other Formats Then in the Save As Type box at the bottom select Web Page, Filtered. (There will be more than one type of html to pick from, but you want web page filtered.)

  16. Tony

    “The important part is under FORMAT/PARAGRAPH. There you want no more than a .2 inch first paragraph indent.”

    In Word 2010 I had to search this setting out, and eventually found it under “special.”

  17. Lori – Your tip about removing tab indents makes the whole article worth a mint to me. I am a freelance editor, and often run into this. Now I have a quick way to remove them. Got any tips for removing returns as easily?

  18. Have you tried ^p? You wouldn’t want just ^p since that would remove all paragraph breaks, but you can put in ^p^p and replace that with ^p so where there are now TWO hard returns there would then be just one.

  19. […] 1.) Add books–just click this button.  It will bring up a place where you can browse to the file you want. You can import books in a variety of ebook formats, as html or as a Word Doc. Select the one you want and hit “open.” Ideally you are pulling in the Web Page Filtered HTML file you built using my earlier article: How To Format an Ebook starting with Microsoft Word. […]

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