Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Amazon Perfects Word to Kindle

By mid 2013 Amazon had ironed out all of the kinks entailed in converting a Word doc directly to a Kindle book, meaning there was no longer any need to part format in Word, convert to html and complete the format in such as NotePad++, or God forbid write it from scratch in html.

What this means is that any "normal" book PROPERLY formatted in Word, whether a novel, technical book with images, cookbook etc can use the simple Word-to-Kindle process.  The only exclusion [by way of normal tag] is what is referred to as fixed format children's books, but with the new ease and features of the "normal" system, one should carefully consider if one really needs to use the complex fixed format system, ESPECIALLY as it does not render on all devices.

The Method

We start with a typical section of the Word screen showing several Normal Style paragraphs as well as both Heading 1 and Heading 2 Styled paragraphs, as indicated by the Style Ruler on the Left.

Then we see the final product on the Kindle for PC.

With reference to this image above, there is yet another aspect of the improved Amazon system we will point out at this juncture.

At this stage we have "perfected" our book in Word to the point of simply wanting a Preview before Publishing.  So we are at the bottom of Page 1 on the Bookshelf having uploaded the cover image file and the Word file.  The system has confirmed that the file is both Uploaded and Converted.

We then go below and download the mobi file for Preview [ie NOT the on-line Preview].  We use the "save" option and then go to top right in our [Firefox] browser and click the download button as shown below.

From the list that comes up we simply double-click the mobi file and Kindle for PC opens with the new book.  We simply inspect the book and, if OK, save and goto Page2 to set pricing and PUBLISH - job done.

If you are particularly edgy you can of course open the Kindle Preview App and look at the same mobi file in all the devices but there is really no point because if you formatted correctly in Word and confirmed that in Kindle for PC, then it WILL be fine in all devices because that's the way Amazon has designed the system.

However if you have done all manner of silly things using Siggle, Wiggle or Diggle [whatever] or used html with CSS then you are on your own and it will most probably look bad in all devices because that is NOT the Amazon system as of late 2013.

A Dissection

Notice that we did not need to inspect or edit one single html entity in this new and vastly improved workflow, but the rest of this post does a dissection of the system in case you are wondering how it works.  We start by downloading the "html" file at the same time as the mobi file, and find that it is actually a zip file as shown below.

The zip file is shown in zipped form on top line and the remaining 4 lines are the same file unzipped.  As seen the opf file [Open Packaging Format] sits on the root directory with 3 sub-directories and here is the first part of the code once opened in NotePad++.

A person with only a basic knowledge of html will be able to see that this file is simply the "organising" agent and you will see how it references all of the other files where they sit in the 3 directories and assigns "jobs" for them in building the mobi file.  But the nice thing is you did not need to know ANY html as this was all done automatically for you simply by uploading a Word file.

The first of these files is the html file in the html directory, and here is the start of the file.

Once again you did not need to know anything about this file but the thing that stands out is the absolute "cleanness" of the format with only one "div" tag situated on the first page, ie essentially NONE of the normal hundreds [typically 2,000] lines of "CSS" styles previously associated with html files.  That is because ALL style information is simply given after the individual <p tags. 

Here is last page with the single instance of /div and the closing /body and /html tags, still totally simple.

The xml directory contains the ncx file below, also automatically produced by the process.  This [Navigation Control file for XML applications] file drives the buttons on your Kindle.

Finally the image directory contains the image we uploaded for the cover, and it seems the only change is the name of the image.

So there we have it folks, the latest totally KISS and totally foolproof method of producing a Kindle book directly from Word, but with the qualification that it is only foolproof IF you use STYLES as detailed in this blog and book

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Now there are TWO Tables of Contents

Amazon's continued improvement regime has recently added an automatic NCX [or whatever it is called] Table of Contents when rendering Word files to Kindle.

What this means is that, as well as a "clickable" TOC, those little buttons on your Kindle device [actual buttons or on screen] NOW provide the convenience of advancing from chapter to chapter.

In fact it is even better as if you start on a Level 2 Heading it will advance via Level 2 Headings.

But caution, this does NOT work if you do the normal save as html and zip for upload to Amazon.

However unless you want to include images "properly" there is no longer any need at all to do the html/zip step, but simply upload the Word file [and for some reason the font is way better].

So that is the latest improvement in the Amazon system as we surely head on to the Cloud Amazon and wave Word good-bye.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chapter 3 - Formatting Normal Style

Chapter 3

Formatting Normal Style

By now the Styles and Formatting Window is on the Right of your main Word Window. If you hover the mouse over Normal Style you get a “Sneak Preview” as shown in this Screenshot.

This is in fact my own settings for Normal Style, as used on numerous books for indie authors via our formatting service at
Then if you click the down arrow on the Right you get this drop-down menu, in which you select Modify.

The main Modify Window is shown below, and you should set yours the same or similar, and then go to Paragraph at lower Left.

A secondary Window then allows you to nominate your preferred First Line Indent, Space Below etc.

The Line and Page Breaks tab gives further options and we recommend to turn off the Widows/Orphans Control. There is some debate that by turning it off you will not get “broken paragraphs”, so it is up to you, but it certainly has solved that issue for us.
And that is all you need to do in order to set up Normal Style as you want it. If you wished, you could also make a New Style and call it say Normal1 which has no first line indent, to be used for the first paragraph in a Chapter.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amazon LISTENS to its Customers

One of the perks of having been in Corporate Marketing was one went on "Junkets" to amazing places for "Symposiums" where we sat around for an hour or so each day and chanted "we listen to our customers" but without any such intention and then went off to enjoy the Junket.

Maybe Amazon DID read my blog and respond?

I refer to this blog post

Well the GOOD news is that, maybe as a Xmas present, Amazon has "dealt with" this issue, meaning WE don't have to deal with it (as suggested in my post).

It seems that Amazon has added a "Home" instruction to their rendering algorithm so that when you click on an internal link in a Kindle book it takes you to the designated spot on the html file BUT it then says BEFORE you render this, go BACK to the start of the line.

So this slight adjustment to the start of the rendering overcomes the Chapter Problem and you see the chapter title with FULL formatting.

Given that fixing this issue (as per my post above) was the ONLY reason to even open the html file, this is fantastic news for the sake of EFFICIENT formatting via Word, particularly for the newbies.

Here is a page of a book from Feb 2012 which I had not fixed up in the html.  This is the view in K4PC going from the TOC.


and here is the same result after republish today