Formatting a Cookbook / Recipes for the Kindle

Standard

Formatting books for the Kindle ranges from easy novels to more difficult assignments like textbooks, which still don’t work terribly well on such a small screen with limited formatting capabilities.

Cookbooks are somewhere in the middle, but still something that does work fairly well on the Kindle.  Here are some of our tips and tricks for how to format them.  This advice is for the LiberWriter system, but should be applicable to anyone working with HTML to format their book.

Like everything else on the Kindle, you want to keep things “linear”, so that the text flows.  If you try and lay things out with tables, you’ll get frustrated, and it probably won’t come out looking very good.  Paragraphs separated by spaces, or a bullet list are good for ingredient lists.

So, for recipes, just lay things out one bit after another:

  1. Start off with the name of the recipe.  This is something that will be linked in the table of contents, so make it interesting so people will stop to look at it.  In LiberWriter, use a chapter or subsection, and if you use the latter, be sure to put a page break before it.  The chapter and subsection buttons format the heading in a certain way, and also ensure that it will appear in the table of contetns.
  2. List the ingredients.  Rather than using “fancy” characters like ½, you can simply write 1/2.  While the former will probably work on most readers, the latter is guaranteed to.
  3. Add the directions.  In order to ensure that each line ends where you want, you can push control and return together to make a line break, rather than a new paragraph.

Fairly easy.  Let’s go through an example from The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe :

BROWNIE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients

21 ounce brownie mix

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons water

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

Directions

Combine brownie mix and flour. Mix well.
Beat in oil, eggs, and water. Blend well.
Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop dough from a teaspoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9 – 10 minutes.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Yield

4 Dozen

The key is, as always, to keep things simple.  Since you want each recipe to appear in the table of contents, you’d most likely use the chapter or subsection buttons to add the recipes to the ToC.

On that note, you want to structure your book in a hierarchical way: if you have different parts of the book, like “Pasta”, “Meat”, “Dessert”, those could each be a chapter, with the recipes within the section being subsections.  Or, if the book is just one long list of recipes, you could mark them up as chapters (if you don’t like the default large font we use, just ask, and we can easily make it smaller for you).  The important thing is that they end up in the Table of Contents.  Chapters automatically get page breaks before them, but subsections do not – you’ll have to add a page break with the editor button.  Having page breaks prior to new recipes is nice though, so the reader gets the whole page, rather than having a new recipe start midway down the small screen.

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