“How should I write my book in Word” is a question we sometimes receive from people who want to make the conversion process as smooth and easy as possible.
The answer: KEEP IT SIMPLE!
The less you do with your document, and the cleaner it is, the easier it is to convert. Word files and eBooks are fundamentally different things, and the less baggage you try to take along from one to the other, the less likely you are to see the contents of your luggage scattered all over the conveyor belt at the other end of the journey.
- Don’t use fonts. Most likely, they won’t come through the conversion process very well. Do use bold and italics – those are fine.
- Use style elements like headers, rather than just upping the font on a particular section of text. Those will translate better to the underlying HTML that eBooks are composed of.
- Keep things “linear” – no sidebars and things like that. This is something we cover in more detail here: http://blog.liberwriter.com/2012/03/13/the-one-thing-about-kindle-formatting/
- Don’t use page numbers. They’ll get stripped out because they don’t make sense on Kindles, which have pages of varying sizes depending on the device and settings used to read it.
- Don’t use page headers or footers.
- Do not use tabs to indent paragraphs.
- Endnotes generally work better than footnotes.
- Remember to embed images in the file, rather than linking to them. This means that instead of simply loading up the image on your own computer, the image is contained within the Word file itself. Links to the images on your computer don’t work once the file leaves your computer!
- If you have the ability, make your images the right size (not too big) before you embed them. Massive images will cost you money, because beyond a certain size, Amazon will take a cut from your profits in order to pay for the download costs.
What you mostly want to aim for is what you get if you just open up Word, and start writing a new document with all the defaults and no custom settings. Those are easy enough to add back in once you’ve got a cleanly converted book.