FAQ

General Questions

I uploaded my PDF to the DTP but it looks horrible. What happened to my formatting?

Why can’t I dictate what shows up on each page of my book on the Kindle?

You mean that there are no page numbers on the Kindle?

So, my subject Index can be preserved in my eBook?

Okay, PDFs are not preferred, but what format should I use for uploading my book?

I have tried sending my book to my Kindle, but the images are never included. Can I preview my book on the Kindle without having to upload it to the DTP and buy a copy?

Formatting Specifics

Why is my sans-serif font not showing up in my book?

What other styles are overridden by the Kindle?

But, I don’t want my paragraphs to be justified!

My whole text is indented from the left on the Kindle. Why is that happening?

How do I make a right margin on my blockquotes?

How should I format my images?

What about tables?

I have poetry in my book, but I can’t figure out how to make the indentation look good.

How do I make my Chapter headings appear on a different page?

My Services

Why do you charge so much?

Will my eBook look like my hardcopy?

What do you need to get started?

What if I don’t have an electronic file?

Can I make changes to the text of my book after you are done?

Will you work on my subject index?


General Questions

I uploaded my PDF to the DTP but it looks horrible. What happened to my formatting?

Unfortunately, the DTP does not support PDF uploads as well as it does other formats. Actually, Amazon suggests that you upload an HTML file, since the Kindle/Mobipocket format is based on HTML. PDF files are made specifically for print media and are not really designed to work with eBook readers.

Why can’t I dictate what shows up on each page of my book on the Kindle?

Font SizeThe Kindle format is based on HTML, which allows the user much more control as they read the book. For instance, the user can change the font size in the book on-the-fly, and the text will flow differently on the page as a result. This means that “pages” (in the common hardcopy book sense) are not present on the Kindle. eBooks in general take a much more flexible approach to pagination. This is also why the Kindle has a “Location” indicator at the bottom of the screen. That feature allows the reader to see their relative position in the book.

Locations

You mean that there are no page numbers on the Kindle?

Precisely. Page numbers become mostly irrelevant on the Kindle and in other eBooks. For the most part, the only times they are useful are when the eBook contains references to other places in the text (these references should be all be linked) or when there is an index at the end of the book (which should also be linked).

So, my subject Index can be preserved in my eBook?

Yes! It is not hard to make an index work in an eBook, you just have to insert “page number” anchors in the text and point the index to those anchors.

Okay, PDFs are not preferred, but what format should I use for uploading my book?

Clear StylesWell, as I mentioned before, HTML is the format preferred by Amazon, but you can do a decent job of formatting the book yourself in Microsoft Word. The key to using Word is to utilize the built-in Styles mechanism so that your book is consistent and well-formed.

Of course, this can become a pretty formidable job, especially for someone who is in a hurry or someone without the skills, tools, or patience for such a task. That is when you can contact me.

I have tried sending my book to my Kindle, but the images are never included. Can I preview my book on the Kindle without having to upload it to the DTP and buy a copy?

Yes, you can easily Preview your book on your own Kindle with the images intact. This process will require that you download and install Mobipocket Creator, but don't be intimidated by that.

  1. Open Mobipocket Creator.
  2. Mobipocket ImportSelect "HTML Document" from the section "Import from an Existing File".
  3. Browse to the HTML file and press "Import".
  4. This will generate a folder in your My Documents\My Publications folder that has the same as your HTML file.
  5. Open that folder and copy into it any images that are in your book.
  6. Mobipocket BuildIn Creator, select "Build" from the Menu.
  7. On the Build page, press the "Build" button.
  8. Go back to your book folder. You will now see a .opf file and a .prc file in there.
  9. Plug in your Kindle and copy the .prc file to your "documents" folder, or e-mail the file to your kindle.com address.

Note: This process is covered in detail in Chapter 7 of my book. Mobipocket files give you distinct advantages over straight HTML, so I highly suggest that you create and upload Mobipcket files to the DTP.

Formatting Specifics

Note: The instructions and hints in this section of the FAQ apply only to books formatted in HTML not to books formatted in MS Word or PDF. The Kindle conversion process for those file formats is not consistent enough to make answering questions about their formatting possible in this forum.


Why is my sans-serif font not showing up in my book?

The Kindle applies some styles by default to every book. One of those styles is the font, which is a serif font like Times New Roman, but actually closer to Georgia in appearance. This is not something that can be changed, though you can use images for headings if you like as long as you are aware that those will not change in size when the user adjusts the font size on the device. The Kindle also has a monspaced font, which can be applied to text using <code> tags.

What other styles are overridden by the Kindle?

Some other styles that are applied or adjusted by default include:

  • Font size: There are ways to change this a little, but the Kindle does not allow much fiddling, and the extreme maximum font size is equivalent to 20pt. The default font size equivalency at "Font Size 6" on the Kindle is 16pt.
  • Line height: every paragraph has a default line height assigned to it (no double spacing, etc.)
  • Left and Right Margins: The Kindle allows <blockquote> tags, but the indentation on them is only from the left, not the right. Right margins are not supported on the Kindle. There are some ways to create some nice indentation for formatting like poetry, but I won't share them here. You have to buy the book!
  • Top and Bottom Margins: The only way to set top and bottom margins (besides using empty paragraphs or <br/> tags — a bad idea!) is to use the height property. Bottom margins are not supported. (For more on margins, see my blog post on margins)
  • Justification: The Kindle fully justifies everything, but that can be overridden by the text-align:left CSS property. Users can also change the default on their Kindle 1 (Not the Kindle 2 or DX) by going to the Font Size dialog and holding down Alt + J.

But, I don’t want my paragraphs to be justified!

Not a problem. You can apply the CSS style text-align:left to your paragraphs and they will not be justified on the Kindle. The easiest way to do that is to assign a class name with that style and give your normal paragraphs that class. For instance:

<style>
p.left {text-align: left;}
</style>
.........
<p class="left">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.</p>

My whole text is indented from the left on the Kindle. Why is that happening?

More than likely, your HTML has some unclosed tags. You should open the file up in your web browser and scroll down through the text to see where the indentation starts. Usually this is due to an unclosed <blockquote> tag.

How do I make a right margin on my blockquotes?

The Kindle does not allow right margins. Blockquotes will be indented from the left automatically, but there is no way to set an indentation from the right.

How should I format my images?

The viewable book area on the screen of the Kindle 2 is 520px by 622px. If you want an image to fill up the screen, it should be that size or any multiple of it. Images smaller than that will be scaled up, unless they are less than 251px wide. Note that the Kindle adjusts the size of images automatically to fit the screen size, so you should test out your book on the screen if you get a chance.

Images that are best viewed in landscape can be rotated to take advantage of the Kindle’s screen dimensions. If you decide to do that it is suggested that you rotate the images 90 degrees counter-clockwise. However, don't forget that the Kindle DX has automatic screen rotation, so you might end up making your readers dizzy with rotated images.

The Kindle supports the JPG, PNG, and GIF image formats.

What about tables?

The Kindle 1 does not support any HTML table tags, but the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX do. Your best solution to cover all the devices is to take screenshots of the tables in your PDF or Word doc and include the images in the Kindle book. You can spread the content out on multiple screens and rotate the images as needed to make the content understandable.

I have poetry in my book, but I can’t figure out how to make the indentation look good.

The easy way to format poetry is to use blockquote tags as I mention in this blog post. However, I have developed another way to format poetry that makes it look very nice, including hanging indents on wrapped lines. You can see an example of this in a book of poetry I formatted for one of my clients, The Lost Sonnets of Cyrano de Bergerac. This formatting is covered in detail in my book.

How do I make my Chapter headings appear on a different page?

Some people try to do this with lots of spaces or empty paragraphs. However, the re-flowing of text will make all of that for naught. The best way to force text onto a new page (or screen) is to use the <mbp:pagebreak /> tag. Place that right before the heading and it will be forced to the next screen.

My Services

Why do you charge so much?

Well, I honestly think my services are worth the cost. To see what the service includes and how prices are developed, please take a look the eBook Conversion Services page.

Will my eBook look like my hardcopy?

Yes and no. There are some elements of a hardcopy that can be retained in an eBook. However, there are some limitations to the amount of formatting that can be forced into the Kindle mold. I have been able to do some very difficult formatting for my clients, but if your book has some very specific formatting you should be prepared to see it tweaked in the eBook.

What do you need to get started?

We can discuss the file formats you have available before I start on the project. If you have an original Word document that is almost always the best file to work from. If you have a PDF, that will work as well. You should be aware that historically PDF files take longer to process than Word documents since the code behind the scenes is usually much messier and more bloated.

What if I don’t have an electronic file?

I am able to scan and convert your hardcopy book into an electronic file, and from that into a Kindle book. This process will take longer and will include some extra charges associated with the scanning, but it is a great option for getting an out-of-print book into the Kindle format, and even opens up the possibility of making the book available in print form again, as well.

Can I make changes to the text of my book after you are done?

Yes, I can send you the source HTML files for the book when I am finished formatting it, and you can easily make changes to that file in a text editor like Notepad. If you want to make extensive changes to your book but you only have a PDF file, I can save that PDF as a Word document and you can make changes to it before we start the eBook conversion.

Will you work on my subject index?

Yes! Making subject indexes work is not hard, it just requires a bit of time.



Do you have a question that is not answered here? Drop me a line and I would be happy to answer it for you!