Smashwords Formatting Tutorial


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The full tutorials for the eBook formatting series include a basic XHTML tutorial, a tutorial for converting your manuscript into XHTML, and a Calibre tutorial for converting XHTML into eBooks. For those looking for something more advanced, you can also peruse the Regular Expressions tutorial, as well as the EPUB and KindleGen tutorial. Templates for XHTML and EPUB are also available for your formatting arsenal. Additionally, there are some helpful hints for formatting for Smashwords in this tutorial.

Table of Contents
Formatting for Smashwords
Smashwords' Meatgrinder - The Horror...The Horror...
Background Reading and Prerequisites for Smashwords
Prepping Your Manuscript in Your Word Processor
Roughly Laying Out Your Manuscript
Adding the Fancy Special Characters
Preserving Italics/Bold/Underline
Preserving Hyperlinks
The Nuclear Option
Cleaning the Raw Text
Stopping Point for Formatting Both EPUB/MOBI and Smashwords
Preparing a New Microsoft Word Document
Restoring Italics/Bold/Underline Text
Defining Styles in Microsoft Word
Defining First Line Indent or Block Indent
Defining a Centered Style
Defining the Heading 2 Style
Forcing Page Breaks at Headings
Applying Styles to Your Text
Tips on Style Adjustment
Adding Images and External Hyperlinks
Building a Table of Contents
Other Uses for a Word Document
Smashwords Formatting Video Tutorials

Formatting for Smashwords
So you've got your manuscript done and you've already uploaded your brilliant work to the Amazon.com Kindle store and the Barnes & Noble NOOK store. You've made a bit of money; however, you're looking for more markets to sell your work. That's where Smashwords comes in, which is a great alternative marketplace that acts as an eBook aggregator. It is both a distributor to other markets and a vendor to online shoppers that provides attractive royalties for the self-publisher.

Despite Smashwords not having nearly as much sales as Amazon's Kindle store, it still has a lot of excellent features for self-publishers and small presses alike to include:
  • Distribution within markets that users can't normally access (Diesel, Kobo, Sony)
  • Distribution to markets that are accessible, but not very easily (iBookstore)
  • Distribution to markets that are accessible, but you're too lazy to do it yourself or you are not American (Barnes & Noble NOOK)
  • Procurement of free ISBNs for your Smashwords Edition eBooks (which is required for some markets). This avoids having to deal with the ridiculous monopoly that the US Government grants Bowker over managing the antiquated ISBN system
  • Excellent coupon and promotional options that gives you extensive control over the marketing of your eBooks
  • Opportunity to give away eBooks for free (a great promotional tool that you can't really do on Amazon)
  • Ability to self-publish and have zero knowledge of HTML (see this tutorial to learn about how to build an eBook with XHTML)

Smashwords' Meatgrinder - The Horror...The Horror...
The big gripe about Smashwords is that it uses something called "The Meatgrinder". Basically, you have to upload a Microsoft Word 2003 .doc file and that gets converted through this Meatgrinder into PDF/EPUB/MOBI and some other formats. Despite some recent improvements to Smashwords' conversion system, there is still a large margin of error in having to convert a document from a word processor into all these different formats. In fact, the process can be so troublesome that some professional eBook converters like eBook Architects won't even offer to make a Smashwords source .doc.

Once your work gets converted in Meatgrinder and passes Smashwords' Autovetter system for errors, you have to wait a few days to a few weeks for your eBook to make it into their premium catalog. The premium catalog allows for distribution to all the markets that Smashwords works with (i.e. Kobo, Sony, Diesel, iBookstore, and others). It's a bit of a pain to do this process correctly, but not nearly as difficult as writing, editing, and marketing an eBook.

Background Reading and Prerequisites for Smashwords
The following is some useful background reading before you get started with making a clean .doc file to upload to Smashwords:
The tools that you will need to properly format a Microsoft Word file for Smashwords are as follows:
  1. Microsoft Word with your manuscript (2007 Preferred)
  2. Cover Art (required for Premium Catalog)
  3. Notepad++ [free](or another suitable text editor)
  4. A Smashwords Account [free]
  5. Paul Salvette's Workflow Process for Smashwords [.txt file] [free]
Prepping Your Manuscript in Your Word Processor
The objective of formatting for Smashwords is to take a sloppy manuscript in your word processor and convert it into a clean manuscript that will pass the Smashwords' Meatgrinder and Autovetter system. The best way to guarantee good conversions through the Meatgrinder is to copy and paste your entire manuscript into a text document, and then copy and paste it back into Microsoft Word. The early stages of formatting for Smashwords are analogous to the early stages of converting a manuscript into XHTML used in the eBook formatting tutorial.

So you're manuscript has been edited over and over again, beta-read by your aunt's weird friends in her bridge club, and you're ready to go publish your work. The problem is that after reading the Smashwords Style Guide, you realize that the formatting in your word processor is a complete mess and will never pass the Meatgrinder, let alone get into the Smashwords premium catalog. Don't worry, because it's actually not that complicated a process to get it all cleaned up, despite the scare stories from everybody else. You don't even have to convert your manuscript into XHTML or use Calibre like you would for creating EPUB/MOBI files.

Roughly Laying Out Your Manuscript
It is not necessary to adjust the formatting of your Smashwords document in your word processor, since you are going to nuke all the formatting. However, you should lay it out in a logical sequence. The three hard requirements for publishing an eBook on Smashwords are a cover (which is uploaded as a JPEG on their website when you publish the .doc file), a title/copyright page, and a clean .doc file.

This guide recommends the following sequence for fiction eBooks:
  • Title/Copyright Page
  • Story
  • Author's Notes
  • About the Author
  • Back jacket description/Dedications/Blurbs/Credits/Etc.
  • Table of Contents (optional)
It is recommended that extra material such as links to your other works, excerpts, dedications to Grandma, etc. be placed after the story, because it will maximize actual content that can be seen under the sampling option in Smashwords. You don't want a potential customer to be unable to see the actual story when they download a free sample.

It should be noted that the Table of Contents is optional. Keep in mind that eBook formats have a meta Table of Contents called the NCX. This allows the reader to tap a button and the Table of Contents appears on their eReader. There are different schools of thought on this, but this guide feels that a Table of Contents in both the metadata and in the actual eBook content is a good practice for works of fiction. Additionally, despite recent upgrades to Smashwords in how the Meatgrinder detects the Table of Contents, it is still a bit finicky. By properly generating a Table of Contents within the actual .doc file, the NCX Table of Contents generated in Smashwords will have less bugs.

This guide recommends the following layout for non-fiction eBooks:
  • Title/Copyright Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Content
  • Appendices/List of Figures
  • Author's Notes
  • About the Author
  • Back jacket description/Dedications/Blurbs/Credits/Etc.
As with the fiction layout, the content is front-loaded so that potential Smashwords customers can sample a maximum amount of actual content material that is most pertinent to the eBook.

Unlike works of fiction, you probably want a nice Table of Contents that you craft yourself after the title page.

Title/Copyright page content: Since simplicity is elegance, this guide recommends the following for a title/copyright page, which is perfectly acceptable per the guidance in the Smashwords Style Guide.
Title
by FirstName LastName
Copyright 2011 FirstName LastName
Smashwords Edition
While it is nothing fancy, this title/copyright page is perfectly acceptable. Great selling self-publishers like Stephen Knight do the same thing in their title/copyright pages.

Important Note: It is essential that the "Smashwords Edition" be added to the title page. Consult the Smashwords Style Guide for more details.

Story/Extras: Get everything laid in a logical sequence of how you want it in Microsoft Word, but don't worry about formatting. You are going to use the "nuclear option" to strip away all the corruption and other weird stuff lurking in your word processor.

Images: Don't worry about images, because you are going to add them later. They will be stripped anyways when you use the nuclear option.

Important Note (1): To save yourself headaches, only put in the text of the Table of Contents at this point. Do not worry about hyper-linking inside Microsoft Word, and you will do so later.

Important Note (2): The cover art will be uploaded to Smashwords along with the document. Do not worry about it at this time.

Adding the Fancy Special Characters
You probably want to put the fancy curled double and single quotes, proper em dashes, ellipsis, and en dashes throughout your manuscript. Readers seem to like them in works of fiction, and the customer is always right. Even though they look similar to the keys you type in your keyboard, these are completely different characters as far as an eReader is concerned. Observe how normal and special characters are slightly different:
This “ ” ‘ ’ … – —
Not " " ' ' ... - --
Rather than adding all the fancy characters manually, it's best to get the word processor's Autoformatting capabilities to accomplish this task.

To enable Autoformatting for curled double quotes, curled single quotes, en dashes, and em dashes, perform the following steps (this guide uses Microsoft Word 2007 as an example):
  1. Click the Windows Icon in the upper left
  2. Click Word Options
  3. Click Proofing
  4. Click AutoCorrect Options
  5. nder the Autoformat tab, de-select all boxes except for Straight Quotes for “Smart Quotes” and Hyphens (--) with Dash (—)
  6. Under the Autoformat as you Type tab, de-select all boxes except for Straight Quotes for “Smart Quotes” and Hyphens (--) with Dash (—)
Enable Autoformatting (Steps 1-2)
Enable Autoformatting (Steps 3-4)
Enable Autoformatting (Step 5)

Enable Autoformatting (Step 6)
Now that Autoformatting is activated for the fancy characters you want, you can use the Find and Replace function (Ctrl-H) to quickly add them all in.

Perform the following steps in the Find and Replace window and select Replace (or Replace All if you feel lucky) after each step.

Important Note: This guide places quotes around anything that should be typed. Do not actually insert the quotes:
  • FIND """ REPLACE """ (adds fancy double quotes)
  • FIND "'" REPLACE "'" (adds fancy single quotes)
  • FIND "..." REPLACE "…"(adds ellipsis rather than three periods)[to type in the ellipsis you can press Ctrl-Alt-.]
  • FIND "--" REPLACE "—" (adds em dash rather than two hyphens)
  • FIND " - " REPLACE " – " (adds en dash rather than space-hyphen-space)[note: the FIND is space-hyphen-space and REPLACE is space-endash-space]
Look through your document and make sure that the fancy characters were inserted properly. This guide highly recommends the special characters for works of fiction, but it may be unnecessary for non-fiction.

Preserving Italics/Bold/Underline
Since you will strip out all formatting with the nuclear option, you need to have a way to preserve the desired Italics/Bold/Underline text that is in the body of your word processor's document. Do not worry about preserving the bold headings for Title, Chapters, Author's Notes, etc., because you will alter those manually after you use the nuclear option. The purpose of this step is to have placeholder tags within the content for your desired italics/bold/underline text.

Perform the following steps using the Find and Replace feature in Microsoft Word (Ctrl-H):
  • FIND Ctrl-I REPLACE "QQQ^&QQQ" [in the Find window press Ctrl-I so it says "Font: Italic"]
  • FIND Ctrl-B REPLACE "BBB^&BBB" [you can skip Headings]
  • FIND Ctrl-U REPLACE "UUU^&UUU"
Find Italics (Step 1)

This will wrap your placeholder tags as follows: QQQtextQQQ around any italics text, BBBtextBBB around any bold text, and UUUtextUUU around any underlined text. There should be no spaces between the placeholder tags and the text after performing this step. Again, don't worry about altering the formatting of the headings. This is simply for ensuring placeholders for text within the content (e.g. italics for movie titles like Platoon).

The "^&" in the Replace window is a Microsoft Word identifier that refers to whatever is in the Find window. For Open Office, the identifier is simply "&".
Properly Wrapped Placeholder Tags

Preserving Hyperlinks
You may have inserted hyperlinks into your word processor's document. These will show up as blue text that is underlined. When the document is copy and pasted into the text editor, you will not lose the text, but you will lose the hyperlink information.

This guide recommends inserting hyperlinks manually when you are working in the final Smashwords .doc file. However, if you have numerous hyperlinks, you may wish to add the placeholder kinks within the word processor's document to ensure that none are lost during the nuclear option.

To preserve hyperlinks, perform the following steps:
  1. Press Alt+F9 to turn on Field View
  2. Manually cycle through your document to search for hyperlinks (F11 goes forward and Shift+F11 goes backward)
  3. Copy the hyperlink within the Field View
  4. Press Alt+F9 to Turn off Field View
  5. Copy the URL next to the text you want hyperlinked
  6. Repeat for each hyperlink
Turning On and Off Field View with Alt+F9

While this is a particularly tedious process, especially if you have numerous hyperlinks, VBA script is required to automatically extract the hyperlink target from the field. If you don't know what VBA script is, don't worry about it, neither does the author of this guide.

The Nuclear Option
Now that you have all the placeholder tags where you want and the document is roughly laid out, it's time to export the entire contents of your word processor's document to a text editor. This will strip all the formatting and corruption that resides inside your word processor.

Copy and paste everything into a clean document by performing the following steps:
  1. Turn off the comments/track changes feature under the Review tab.
  2. Press Ctrl-A and Ctrl-C to select the entire document and copy it to your clipboard
  3. Open your text editor to a blank document
  4. Ctrl-V to paste

Text Editor with Document

You'll notice that each paragraph should be on one long line. Everything will be the same size and font with no italics, bold, or underline. This is what you want. You are well on your way to creating a perfect .doc file for Smashwords.

Make sure that the text editor took in the special characters (e.g. the “ and ” didn't get changed to " and "). There may be a bunch of blank lines, spaces in front of some paragraphs, and other nastiness. You will get rid of this unwanted whitespace in the next step.

Cleaning the Raw Text
Now that you have your document in a text editor, it is necessary to get rid of all the extra whitespace. The final raw text should have no blank lines, no spaces before the start of each paragraph or after the end of each paragraph, and absolutely no tabs. This bumper and fender work will ensure you have the cleanest possible .doc file for Smashwords.

Perform the following steps to remove whitespace:
  1. Delete tabs with FIND "\t" REPLACE "" [for functionality of "\t" in Notepad++, click on Extended Search mode]
  2. Delete spaces before and after each paragraph [in Notepad++ go to Edit->Blank Operations->Trim Leading and Trailing Spaces]
  3. Find "  " Replace " " [removes double spaces]
  4. Delete all blank lines - (Basic) Perform manually, (Advanced) Perform automatically FIND "\n\r" REPLACE "" [ensure Extended Search Mode selected]
Finding and Deleting Tabs (Step 1)

Deleting Spaces Before and After Paragraphs in Notepad++ (Step 2)

A Clean Raw Text Document

Give your text document a thorough review from top to bottom, deleting blank lines and making each paragraph and heading on its own line.

Stopping Point for Formatting Both EPUB/MOBI and Smashwords

STOP: If you are also planning on publishing creating your own EPUB and MOBI files for uploading to the Amazon.com Kindle store or the Barnes & Noble NOOK store, save a copy of this text document under a different file name before proceeding further. Everything up to this point is almost exactly the same steps as preparing a clean text document to convert into XHTML. However, beyond this step you will be working in Microsoft Word.

Preparing a New Microsoft Word Document
You are now at the step where you are going to take the raw text out of your text editor and put it back into Microsoft Word. The work process outlined follows the guidelines of the Smashwords Style Guide in a logical and simplified manner. This guide uses Microsoft Word 2007, but Microsoft Word 2003 and Microsoft Word 2010 are also acceptable.

It is important to have the most normalized settings in Microsoft Word to ensure a proper conversion through the Smashwords Meatgrinder. This means regular AutofoAmatting options, normal 1" page margins, and absolutely no headers or footers.

Perform the following steps to create a new blank document that will be used for your final .doc file:
  1. Open a new, empty document in Microsoft Word
  2. Save as a Microsoft Word 97-2003 .doc file  (not a .docx or .rtf file)
  3. Click on the Windows tab in the Upper Left->Word Options->Proofing->Autocorrect Options
  4. Under Autocorrect, de-select "Replace Text as You Type"
  5. Under Autoformat as You Type, de-select everything except "Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes" and "Hyphens -- with dash —"
  6. Under Autoformat, de-select everything except "Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes" and "Hyphens -- with dash —"
  7. Hit Ok to close window
  8. Look at Page Layout-> Margins and verify it is "Normal" Top: 1", Bottom: 1", Left: 1", Right: 1"
  9. Verify that your style is "Normal"
  10. Verify you have no Header or Footer

Accessing Word Options (Step 3)
Accessing Autocorrect Options (Step 3
De-select Replace Text as You Type (Step 4)
De-select on AutoFormat as you Type (Step 5)
De-select on AutoFormat (Step 6)
Normal Page Margins (Step 8)

Now that you have a blank Microsoft Word document saved in .doc format, you can copy and paste the entire contents from your text editor into the Microsoft Word document.

Perform the following steps:
  1. In your text editor, press Ctrl-A and then Ctrl-C to copy everything to your clipboard
  2. Open your blank Word document and press Ctrl-V to paste
You should now have a Word document that has absolutely no formatting corruption. Everything is in your base "Normal" style (typically this is a Calibri/11-point font). At the moment, this will not look how you want it, but from here you can begin working from the ground up to apply styling.

Restoring Italics/Bold/Underline Text
You need to go back and find the placeholder tags from that were utilized to mark where there should be Italics/Bold/Underline text in the content of your document.

Perform the following steps in the Find and Replace window (Ctrl-H):
  1. In the Replace window click on More and check Use Wildcards
  2. FIND "(QQQ)(*)(QQQ)" REPLACE "\2" and Ctrl-I [in the Replace window it will say "Font: Italic" after pressing Ctrl-I]
  3. FIND "(BBB)(*)(BBB)" REPLACE "\2" and Ctrl-B
  4. FIND "(UUU)(*)(UUU)" REPLACE "\2" and Ctrl-U
Finding and Replacing with Wildcards (Steps 1-2)

The "\2" is a nerd thing called a regular expression that tells the Find and Replace function to replace "QQQtextQQQ" with "text". You need to hit Ctrl-I inside the Replacement window until it says "Font: Italics". Do the same for bold and underlined text.

Defining Styles in Microsoft Word
This is where it gets kind of messy. You need to create and alter different styles within Word so that you can adjust your formatting for each paragraph. Since the chapter headings, body, and section breaks are all different types of paragraphs (e.g. the chapter headings are typically bolder than the body text, the section breaks are centered not left justified like the body text, etc.), you need to define a style for each. Rather than manually adjusting each line of text in Word, it is advantageous to define different styles and apply those styles throughout your .doc file. In the styles in Word, you can adjust font size, justification, spacing between lines, indentation, and many other properties to achieve the look and feel of your eBook. However, you should keep the styles simple to avoid conversion problems with Meatgrinder.

You may be accustomed to manipulating the font size, justification, and font type in the menu bar of Microsoft Word. To ensure a proper conversion through the Meatgrinder, you should not use this approach. Rather, you will define individual styles with all specific characteristics and then apply those predefined styles to specific portions of your document. For those familiar with CSS coding, the process is analogous.

The screen captions and video tutorials are for Word 2007. It's slightly different in Word 2003 to define styles, but the same principles apply. You can visit Heather Adkins' guide for Microsoft Word 2003 screenshots.

Defining First Line Indent or Block Indent
It is necessary to alter the Normal style in Word, which is how the body text in your .doc file will look. For fiction, the Normal style should typically follow the First Line Indent type, while for non-fiction, it is typically Block Indent.

To illustrate the differences between these two types of indentation styles, examine these two paragraphs:

This is a First Line Indent paragraph. These are commonly used for fiction. I think they look nice in an eReader. This guide prefers a 0.25" indent like this one, but there are other people who use 0.3".
You'll notice that there's no margin in between new paragraphs, unlike its cousin the block paragraph below.

This is a Block Indent paragraph. It is pretty decent for non-fiction type work or, alternatively, Author's notes, About the Author, blurbs, and other things of a non-literary nature. Notice that the indent is set to 0".

You'll notice that in a Block Indent paragraph, there's whitespace between two paragraphs. You can do this by adjusting the settings for the Normal style within Microsoft Word. This guide recommends 10pt, but you can mess around with the style to make it look like how you want. The Smashwords Style Guide advises between 6pt and 10pt.

To adjust the Normal style to be First Line Indent for the body of your manuscript, perform the following steps:
  1. Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu
  2. Click on the down arrow next to Normal
  3. Click Modify
  4. Set the following
    1. Font to Times New Roman
    2. 12pt
    3. Color to Automatic
    4. Align Left (do not set to Justified, even though most E-readers look that way)
  5. Click Format->Paragraph->Indents and Spacing
  6. Set the following
    1. Indentation Left:0" Right: 0"
    2. Special: First Line indent By 0.25"
    3. Spacing: Before 0Pt   After 0Pt
    4. Line Spacing: Single   At: (leave blank)
  7. Click Ok
The Styles Menu in Word (Step 1)
Modifying the Normal Style (Steps 2-3)
Setting the Normal Style Behavior in (Steps 4.1-4.4)
Modifying the Paragraph Values (Step 5)
Setting First Line Indent in Normal Style (Steps 6.1-6.4)

You have now set the entire document with First Line Indent. This is great for the body of your text if your eBook is going to be fiction, but what about the chapter headings, the title page, and the Author's Notes? You need to create more styles for different types of paragraphs throughout the .doc file.

Block Indent type is good for Author notes, About the Author, and Excerpts. Therefore, you need to define a separate style that you can apply to those paragraphs. To do this, it is necessary to make a modification of the Normal style.

To set a Block Indent style, perform the following steps (Note: If you're working with non-fiction, you should use the below settings as your Normal):
  1. Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu
  2. Click on the double AAs in the bottom left of the menu that says "New Style"
  3. Under properties:
    1. Name it "Block" or something like that
    2. Style Type is Paragraph
    3. Style Based on Normal
  4. Set the following
    1. Font to Times New Roman
    2. 12pt
    3. Color to Automatic
    4. Align Left
  5. Click Format->Paragraph->Indents and Spacing
  6. Set the following
    1. Indentation Left: 0"   Right: 0"
    2. Special: (none)   By: (leave blank)
    3. Spacing: Before 0Pt   After 10Pt
    4. Line Spacing: Single   At: (leave blank)
  7. Click Ok
Making a New Style in Word (Step 2)

Creating a New Block Style for Block Indenting (Steps 3.1-3.3 & 4.1-4.4)
Proper Settings for Block Indent Paragraphs (Steps 6.1-6.4)
You have now created a separate style for Block Indent type paragraphs. The "Spacing-> After: 10pt" in 6.3 above makes a margin below every paragraph, but not between lines within the same paragraph. The Smashwords Style Guide says that you should maintain it between 6 and 10 point.

Defining a Centered Style
You probably want some text at that is centered in places like section breaks (those little *** or ### guys), as well as the copyright notice on the title page. In Smashwords, if you try to click on center justify on a line, it often gets rejected by the Meatgrinder, and your centered *** or ### ends up on the left margin with the normal text. Therefore, it is necessary to define a Center style just for text that needs to be centered. It should be noted that the title and chapter headings will be defined under a separate style.

Perform the following steps to define a style for centered text:
  1. Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu
  2. Click on the double AAs in the bottom left of the menu that says "New Style"
  3. Under properties:
    1. Name it "Centered" or something like that
    2. Style Type is Paragraph
    3. Style Based on Normal
  4. Set the following
    1. Font to Times New Roman
    2. 12pt
    3. Color to Automatic
    4. Align Center
  5. Click Format->Paragraph->Indents and Spacing
  6. Set the following
    1. Indentation Left: 0"   Right: 0"
    2. Special: (none)   By: (leave blank)
    3. Spacing: Before 10Pt   After 10Pt
    4. Line Spacing: Single   At: (leave blank)
  7. Click Ok
Defining a Centered Style Based on Normal style (Steps 3.1-3.3 & 4.1-4.4)

Notice that this guide puts 10pt margins above and below on the Spacing settings. This spaces the centered text from the paragraphs above and below it, but you should feel free to adjust it. The Smashwords Style Guide recommends staying between 6pt and 10pt margins.

Defining the Heading 2 Style
This is probably the most important style, because it is how page breaks are defined and how the Smashwords Meatgrinder determines the Table of Contents. This style should be utilized for text like the title, the chapter headings, the Author's Notes, etc. Based on the Smashwords Style Guide, this guide recommends using Word's Heading 2 style.

Perform the following steps to define the Heading 2 style:
  1. Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu
  2. Click on the down arrow next to Heading 2
  3. Click Modify
  4. Set the following
    1. Font to Times New Roman
    2. 14pt
    3. Bold Text
    4. Color to Automatic
    5. Align Center
  5. Click Format->Paragraph->Indents and Spacing
  6. Set the following
    1. Indentation Left: 0" Right: 0"
    2. Special: (none) By: (leave blank)
    3. Spacing: Before 14Pt   After 14Pt
    4. Line Spacing: Single   At: (leave blank)
  7. Click Ok
Defining Values for Heading 2 (Steps 4.1-4.5)
Defining Paragraph Values for Heading 2 (Steps 6.1-6.4)
These headings will be what stand out on your document compared to the body text. The Smashwords Style Guide recommends not going above a 16pt font size on the Heading 2 style.

Forcing Page Breaks at Headings
This is an important process that will guarantee the Meatgrinder recognizes page breaks. You probably want to insert page breaks before each chapter and before Author's Notes, About the Author, etc. You will force page breaks by altering the settings on the Heading 2 style. This process is not discussed in the Smashwords Style Guide.

The ability for the Meatgrinder to read page breaks is a bit finicky and nowhere near as clean as eBook conversion from XHTML. The Smashwords Style Guide suggests hitting one or two carriage returns (i.e. pressing Enter) and then manually inserting a page break (i.e. pressing Ctrl-Enter). With all due respect to Mr. Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, this sounds like a rather sloppy method where you could get undesired page breaks all over the place or leave blank pages in the eBook.

By setting your Heading 2 Style to force a page break, the Meatgrinder will recognize page breaks for the PDF/MOBI/EPUB formats. You can do this under the "pagination" features of Word 2007.

Perform the following steps:
  1. Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu
  2. Click on the down arrow next to Heading 2
  3. Click Modify
  4. Click Format->Paragraph->Line and Page Breaks
  5. Under Pagination, Click Page Break Before
Forcing Page Breaks in Word
Now that you have properly defined the styles, you can start formatting the actual document by applying styles to each portion of text.

Applying Styles to Your Text
It is time to add styling to different paragraphs and headings within your Word document. At this point, you should be looking at text that is entirely in the Normal style (which you defined as First Line Indent for fiction or Block Indent for non-fiction). Obviously, paragraphs such as your Title/Chapter Headings, Section Breaks, and actual body text all need to look different. Therefore, you need to go through your entire document and alter it to what you and your readers want to see in your eBook. You can always add more styles and alter the settings. By only modifying the styles of each paragraph, and not individual attributes (such as changing the font size on just one line), it will guarantee a clean word document.

You can pull up the Styles Menu and go through each paragraph in the eBook, one by one, to make sure you have a clean Word document. Here is the process that this guide recommends, but you should tweak it to get the desired eBook you are looking for:
  • Title - Heading 2 style
  • Copyright Notice - Centered style
  • Chapter Headings - Heading 2 style
  • Section Breaks - Centered style
  • Story Text - Normal style (that is First Line Indent for fiction and Block Indent for non-fiction)
  • Author Notes/Excerpts Headings - Heading 2 style
  • Text of Author Notes/Excerpts - Block Indent style
This can be a bit time-consuming, but don't skimp on this process, because this is exactly how your eBook is going to look to your readers.

Tips on Style Adjustment
To avoid putting your fist through a wall, here are some helpful hints to keep your Word document clean:
  1. Keep the Styles Menu open during this step
  2. Avoid using any styles that you did not define in the Styles Menu
  3. Beware of unintentionally bringing your style into the preceding or next paragraph. To avoid this click the cursor somewhere in the middle of the text, and then click on the desired style in the Styles Menu to change it.
  4. Click on the ¶ key in the top menu of Word to show hidden formatting symbols (spaces, returns, etc.)
  5. If you want to force text onto the line below, but want to stay within the paragraph and style, enter a line break by pressing Shift+Enter
  6. Do not force page breaks with Ctrl+Enter, because the Meatgrinder gives erroneous results when converting them
Adding Images and External Hyperlinks
An image of yourself can really help spruce up the About the Author section (unless you've got a face for radio). Also, you may want to add a picture instead of a *** or ### during section breaks. The trick for images is that you have to make sure they retain one of the styles you defined (the Centered style is suitable for most images).

Smashwords only accepts JPEG and PNG images at this time. For photos, use JPEG, but for logos or line art, use PNG to avoid artifacts and blurring. Additionally, Smashwords is similar to the MOBI format in that it does not allow images to be floated (i.e. images with text wrapped around them).

To insert images into your Word document, perform the following steps:
  1. Click Insert->Picture
  2. Select your image
  3. On the Style Menu, verify that it is in one of your defined styles (Normal, Centered, etc.)
  4. Manually adjust the image by dragging the corners to get the size you want or adjust under the Format tab
  5. Under Format->Text Wrapping Verify it is "In Line with Text" [note: do not try to float text or wrap text around a picture with setting like "Square" - it will be rejected by the Meatgrinder]

Verifying Correct "In Line with Text" Image Setting (Steps 3 & 5)
After you've inserted your images, you need to compress them. Your images may look small inside Word, but if you uploaded a JPEG from a digital camera, for instance, it might be 3 or 4 MB inside your document. The Smashwords Meatgrinder will give you trouble if you try to upload large .doc files, and the total limit is 5MB.

To compress images perform the following steps:
  1. Under Format click Compress Pictures
  2. Check Apply to "All Pictures In Document"
  3. Check Change Resolution "Web/Screen 96 Dpi"
  4. Check Compress Pictures
  5. Check Delete Cropped Areas of Pictures
  6. Click Ok
Figure 8.9-2 Compressing All Pictures in Document (Steps 1-5)
Everyone likes functionality in their eBooks and being able to link to sites on the web with the tap of a finger. This gives eBooks a serious edge over their dead tree cousins. Just don't go too overboard with the hyperlinks, because some people have stubby fingers and they don't want to bring them up accidentally. For hyperlinks, you can add either websites (http://website.com) or email addresses (mailto:joeselfpubber@gmail.com). Be sure to add the http:// or mailto: before your hyperlinks, or else it will fail the EPUB validation.

To add hyperlinks in Word perform the following steps:
  1. Select the text you want to hyperlink
  2. Press Ctrl-K
  3. Verify on the far left tab that it says "Existing File or Webpage"
  4. In Address type http://website.com or mailto:person@email.com
External Hyperlink Example

Building a Table of Contents
Smashwords automatically generates an NCX Table of Contents in the meta data for MOBI and EPUB files based on what text you chose with the Heading 2 style. However, it is a rather hit or miss process, because it often fails to read certain headings. If you put your own hyperlinked Table of Contents in the Word document, you can guarantee that the NCX Table of Contents will be correct. Be aware that some people are not fans of having both an NCX Table of Contents and a Table of Contents in the content of the eBook. However, if you don't put in a Table of Contents in the Word document, the PDF version on Smashwords will have no Table of Contents. It's a difficult compromise, but this guide recommends manually inserting a Table of Contents into the .doc file.

Another concern is that the Table of Contents you put in Word for the Meatgrinder's conversion is extremely buggy for the MOBI file (this is the one that ships to Amazon). The common bug encountered is when you click on the link in the Table of Contents, it sends you to the correct location, but the heading format gets converted into your Normal style.

Below is an illustration of this bug:
MOBI Table of Contents Bug after Smashwords Conversion
This is a known problem with the way MOBI Table of Contents work, and there is a way around it. However, you have to access the actual source XHTML files, which you cannot do on Smashwords. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to build a Table of Contents in the .doc file.

The Smashwords Style Guide has extensive details on how to use the Bookmarks feature in Word to generate a Table of Contents. You can also utilize this same process if you want to create internal hyperlinks within your .doc file that will be converted through the Meatgrinder.

The Bookmarks feature is analogous to the hyperlink and anchor scheme used in HTML. You define a bookmark by selecting some text in the Word document and clicking "Bookmark" under the Insert tab. In the Bookmark screen, you give it a name. To create a hyperlink to this bookmark (i.e. anchor), you press Ctrl-K and click the "Place in this Document" box on the left-hand side of the Insert Hyperlinks window.

Important Note (1): When defining a bookmark anchor, click somewhere within the text that you want to link to, and be careful about selecting text that is across paragraphs.

Important Note (2): Word has a tendency to add annoying "Hidden Bookmarks" that can create problems during Meatgrinder conversion. Make sure to delete all hidden bookmarks (they are usually labeled "_xxx123"). Click on the box "Hidden bookmarks" in the Bookmark window to make sure that no hidden bookmarks magically appear while you are going through these steps.

To build a Table of Contents, perform the following steps:
  1. Type in the text for how you want your Table of Contents to look (note: The "Table of Contents" should be in the Heading 2 style, while the entries should be in Normal style)
  2. Go to each anchor point that you want to target in your Table of Contents (e.g. the chapter headings) and insert a bookmark. The name of the bookmark can be anything, as long as it is unique.
  3. Select the text in the Table of Contents that you want to hyperlink and press Ctrl-K
  4. Click on "Place in This Document" on the left side of the Insert Hyperlinks Window
  5. Select a bookmark you named in Step 1 and press Ok
Generic Text for Table of Contents (Step 1)
Inserting Bookmarks (Step 2)

Inserting a Hyperlink to a Bookmark (Steps 3-5)
By following these steps, your Table of Contents inside your eBook will be available in the MOBI, EPUB, and PDF format that comes out of the Meatgrinder. Additionally, the NCX Table of Contents in the MOBI and EPUB formats will be generated properly by the Meatgrinder.

Other Uses for a Word Document
Now that you have spent all this time creating a beautiful .doc file, you can easily create a PDF under the Save As button on Microsoft Word. Since many of your friends and relatives have probably not jumped on the eReader bandwagon yet, a PDF is a nice way to share your work through email. While trying to explain EPUB and MOBI formats may result in blank stares, virtually everybody knows what a PDF file is.

Additionally, the Print on Demand company owned by Amazon.com, CreateSpace, requires a formatted .doc file to typeset print books, if you choose to go the print option. You can use this .doc file with some additional typesetting requirements.

Finally, a clean .doc file gives you a starting point for making additional corrections for future editions.

Smashwords Formatting Video Tutorials
Part 1/3

Part 2/3

Part 3/3

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33 comments:

Rick Van Ness said...

This is tremendous Paul.
Thanks for this effort!
I'm getting ready to format my book: Common Sense Investing.
- Rick Van Ness

Paul Salvette said...

Rick,

Stay tuned, and I'm going to make some improvements to the Smashwords tutorial very soon. I'm glad it was useful for you.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I second that! Your formatting guides really are tremendous! Thank you for your help! Awesome.

Ben

Rick Van Ness said...

Paul,your article describes the TOC bug: This is a known problem with the way MOBI Table of Contents work, and there is a way around it. However, you have to access the actual source XHTML files, which you cannot do on Smashwords. Nevertheless, it is still advisable to build a Table of Contents in the .doc file.
Did you write more on this? I am nearly done, yet wondering how to clean up this bug, and how to create something for the Amazon site. Thanks.

Paul Salvette said...

If you wrap div tags around headings in the XHTML and us the "id=" attribute for establishing anchors, you shouldn't have any problems. The bug comes from using the "name=" attribute for establishing anchors, which this guide does not use.

However, for Smashwords, there is no control by the self-publisher over what XHTML the Meatgrinder uses.

Paul Brookes said...

Hi Paul

As you'll know, MS Word is pretty lousy at making HTML, but it does do a reasonable job of opening simple HTML files.

Assuming you've already converted your book to HTML for .mobi and .epub conversion, is this a sensible method for creating the basis of a Word file to send to Smashwords? Or does this introduce the potential for conversion errors?

Paul Salvette said...

Paul, thanks for stopping by. Your Kindle tutorials are much appreciated.

Trying to cut and paste HTML code into Word has been a non-starter for me. Trying another method I copied and pasted the HTML file as viewed by a web browser and it seemed to work okay; however, there is only the normal styles and the hyperlinks show up as a "font: blue" under the formatting tabs. It's not a bad option, since it preserves lists and images from the HTML.

Paul Brookes said...

Thanks for that.

What I meant was simply using File > Open and opening the HTML files in Word (then saving in Word format).

From my limited testing it looks okay and it converts all the divs to paragraph styles.

I might open an account with Smashwords and see if it passes validation.

Paul Salvette said...

I code everything in XHTML, and the Word wouldn't open it. I have to format an eBook for this guide above and almost every paragraph is in a different format and there's tons of lists, hyperlinks, anchors, etc. If I use regexes to code placeholder tags in Notepad++ that show up in a browser for every different style, you can use the regexes in Word 2007 to turn it back into styles you define in Word. It's pretty ugly, but it seems to work.

As a general practice, I like using macros and regexes, because it's less prone to error on my part once I have it all set up. I didn't discuss in my guides, because it's too nerdy, and I'm still learning how to do it.

Have you had any luck opening the HTML file in word. Does it convert it into styles? Let me know, because I'm very curious.

eBook Services said...

Awesome Blog information and got a clear way of formatting idea.

Angie said...

Paul,

I had everything ready and got the html zip file to be converted into mobi by Calibre , but why I couldn't go to the beginning page where I specified when clicking "go to beginning" and instead it always go to the Title page which is the real beginning page (first page of the ebook)? How can I fix this problem? Thanks. Angie

Paul Salvette said...

Angie,

To alter the "Go to Beginning" location, you have to get a bit geeky and advanced and alter the actual content.opf file (for the "Go to Beginning" feature, you have to alter the Guide section of this file). This is automatically generated by Calibre, but there are ways to adjust it yourself. Check it out in this tutorial.

Angie said...

Paul,

Thanks for quick answer. I tried to learn a little bit about converting through KindleGen. However, after I've spent so many hours to convert my html file into mobi via Calibre, is this the only way to get the "Go to Beginning" function working(use KindleGen to get epub)?

I feel overwhelmed now and maybe will just use Mobipocket to do this stuff for me instead of using Calibre at this moment. The only disadvantage is that I can't have NCX to view toc when viewing from Kindle previewer.

Angie

Paul Salvette said...

I don't recommend Mobipocket. I don't even think it will work properly with the new Kindle Fire.

Angie said...

Paul,

I agree with you! It seems that the Kindle formatting recently changed; the 'click to look inside' appearance looked very different than before and it confused me. I no long see my ebook cover and the left hand side 'Cover' and 'Beginning' functions were not working when clicking?

Do you mean that in order to get professional result, it is better not use Calibre to convert the zip file into Mobi first (the "go to Beginning" won't work), instead, use KindleGen to convert into Epub first and then into Mobi?

Angie

Paul Salvette said...

Angie,

Going the pure EPUB route is definitely more professional than Calibre. While Calibre makes life easier, it is not intended to be an eBook production tool (rather, it's a content management library). Learning raw EPUB can be challenging, but it's worth your time if your looking to do it well. I'm working on a new tutorial on this site for Amazon Kindle Fire design that will go over EPUB. It's going to take a few months, but please follow along.

Angie said...

Paul,

Thanks for clarification and now I got the big picture on ebook formatting.

Really appreciate your generosity to help people like me who are outsider of ebook formatting and computer technology.

I am exciting and expecting to learn more from you on Kindle Fire part 1. Thanks again!

Angie

Joyce Sandilands said...

Thank you so much for laying this out so clearly! We had a children's book that I had stripped and it looked good in most of the formats except Epub. I couldn't figure out what I was missing. I followed your instructions line by line and now it's good as new! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! My boss is so excited she's going to put a link to your website on her publishing blog at www.joycesandilands.com. We didn't think you'd mind. Thanks again.
Tara
(OA for Joyce Sandilands)

Paul Salvette said...

Tara,

Thank you very much for the link. Glad it worked out for you.

Facial Care Depot said...

Hi there Paul!

Your tutorial is awesome! I watched the tutorial video and applied it to 5 of my ebooks. 3 of them went through. However, the other 2 can't and I'm having this 'failed to convert' error for .mobi. I searched for this and find out this is a common error for authors but I found no solution. Did you encounter this as well? Could you help me please?

Flora

Bill Cokas said...

Paul, this is very helpful--my book just got rejected by Smashwords Premium for a quotation mark issue. BUT I'm on a Mac, and the MS Word options are different there. Are there any resources out there that will walk me through how to make the same changes using the Mac version of MS Word?

Paul Salvette said...

Bill,

Unfortunately, I'm not a Mac person, but I would definitely like to make these guides more Apple-friendly. What was the exact error message you got from Smashwords?

Bill Cokas said...

Paul, it was something about the "fancy" quotes and dashes. I'm using a program called Scrivener, and found out how to make the changes in there and save out as a Word doc. Thanks for your help, and problem solved!

Anonymous said...

You are brilliant. I am computer illiterate, but your formatting guide made this process a breeze. I'd been postponing formatting because, for me, it was an absolute nightmare. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. My ebook was published with no errors. Thank you!

Marty said...

Paul, thanks for your wonderful instructions. I am having a problem with the search and replace for italics though. The Word 2003 error msg says “^& is not a valid character for a find what box or is not supported when the use of wild cards check box is selected.” Please advise.

Thank you.

Paul Salvette said...

Marty,

Please click on More in the "Find Window" and then untick the "Use Wildcards" checkbox. That should do it.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

Thanks for a great site.

One question, since I don't get it, You say in the movie if I get it right, that you always let Smashwords handling the Table of Content, maybe I misunderstood that. Because when I add Chapter in front of all my Chapters that will not appear in the PDF file. Also I don't get my title side in the ebup file. So do you know what my issue is?

Tom

Paul Salvette said...

Tom,

You should make a Table of Contents with the hyperlinks and bookmark feature in Word. This will make Smashwords automatically generate the ToC. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul!

Thanks for your last replay,

I have followed your excellent guide, and have one strange behavior I can't seem to figure out:) I get these blank page after every chapter, I can't seem to get ride of them. Do you have any clue of what that could be?

Tom

Paul Salvette said...

Tom, Try using the page break before trick on your heading styles.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I'm using "Forcing Page Breaks at Headings", within the paragraph setting for my heading 2, just as you show in the video, without it SW meat-grinder doesn't create any page break at all, with it I get two:)

Strange, and it drives me slowly over the edge:)

Maybe I have missed something that causing this, hard to find:) but I will keep on until I get it right:)

Tom

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I got it to work finally:)
Thanks for your replay, hadn't managed this without your site:)

Maybe I should have started with something easier that the ebook with 209 chapters:)

Tom S

Sine said...

HI Paul,

thanks so much for this post. I think I was able to fix everything in my Smashwords edition, except for one annoying problem: I used the "normal" style throughout my entire book, except I want my first paragraphs (after chapter heading or at beginning of new section) to NOT be indented. So I created a new style, based on the Normal style, and left EVERYTHING the same except changed the first line indent to none. I didn't change anything else. And yet, when I look at my ePub file, the first paragraphs are now in a bigger font size (in Word both styles are Times New Roman 10 pt). Even after I converted the entire document to Normal, deleted the old first paragraph style I had created, then created a new First Paragraph style based on Normal, it reverts back to making those first paragraphs a bigger font size. In fact, any style that I create that is not Normal is in a bigger font size. Does Smashword somehow take "Normal" and treats it in a special way, i.e. making the font size SMALLER than what it should be, is that perhaps why?

Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but I do hope that you might have some answers!

Thanks,
Sine