In Part 2, I described my basic workflow for publication to KDP. Step 1 of that workflow was “tweak formatting of Word doc.” In this installment I’m going to add some details regarding what tweaks actually help.
I should have written this installment first, as I fear I’ve forgotten some of the hoops I jumped through. Here are the ones I remember.
1) Everything (as in, each and every character in your Word doc) should be formatted using Styles. If you don’t know what that means, or you need to sharpen up your knowledge of how to use Styles, do so, but don’t try to fake this step.
2) The only exceptions to (1) should be at the individual character or word level, such as making a word bold in a paragraph. Keep these exceptions to a minimum.
3) Don’t ever use tabs, multiple spaces, multiple carriage returns or new lines, or any other means of manipulating the white space. All of that information should be in the styles. As an example, after a chapter header or some other type of non-normal paragraph, I used a style called NormalGap to add the extra white space. NormalGap was identical to NormalBase, the style I used for 99% of my text, except that it included 12pt spacing before it, thus following rule (1) and (3).
4) Base all your styles on the default Normal style. I’m not sure this is totally required, but I had significant problems with my paragraph indents on the first sentence until I started following this rule.
5) Don’t actually use the default Normal style. Create an identical style with a different name. Mine was NormalBase. No joke. This rule proved critical to getting a predictable output from Work -> Calibre -> KDP.
6) Sizing images is trial and error. The little curly images I used under each chapter header had to be much larger in Word than they appeared on the Kindle.
7) Add a chapter break before each new chapter. Do so via the paragraph settings in the Style, not as an inserted page break.
8) Minimize special fonts, margins, and other exceptions. Again, any such exceptions should be defined as a style based on the Normal style (or a style based on the Normal style). Don’t center a paragraph or change the margins via text formatting. Am I sounding repetitious?
9) Table of Contents get built as a separate file in the EPUB standard. MOBI puts it in the main book document. In part two of this series, I said “convert to MOBI (using some special settings)”. Some of those special settings were to point to the style I used for Chapter headers so Calibre could build an external TOC. However, you may still want a TOC in your book. Calibre gives an option to insert one at the very beginning or very end. I wanted mine right before chapter 1 but after the title page and dedication, so I had to build my own. Based on what I read elsewhere, I didn’t let Word build it for me. Instead, I added a bookmark at each chapter header and then add cross reference links to those chapters. This approach will not yield working chapter skips on the Kindle. The Calibre conversion with pointers to the Chapter style will create those skips. FYI.
10) No headers or footers. Default margins. No page numbers anywhere, just links (e.g. for the TOC). Etc.