Writing a novel is one thing, but formatting it properly is a different beast entirely. If you are having a book professionally published by an agency, chances are that the formatting process is not something you need to worry about. However, if you are planning on self-publishing your next novel, you will need to be intimately familiar with the process.
You’re a creative artist, a wordsmith, and a book writer extraordinaire. But eBook layout and formatting whiz? Maybe not so much.
eBook formatting is not impossible to do alone, but it can be overwhelming without some extra guidance. By understanding the requirements and process of developing layouts for professional use, you can easily make some small changes to the existing manuscript and import your work into Kindle. Strap in, pull out that notepad, and let’s get formatting!
Let’s look at some of the biggest issues surrounding Kindle eBook layouts, and how it effects page margins. We’re going to cover:
- Important layout terms and phrases
- What Kindle requires for eBook layouts
- The importance of page margins
- Dos and Don’ts for eBook layouts
- Setting up a Word doc with Kindle eBook formatting rules
- Kindle eBook layout FAQs
Related article: Understanding Fonts and Typography: A Complete Guide
Kindle eBook Layouts Glossary & Index
Before we get into the technical FAQs of Kindle’s eBook layouts, we first need to understand what everything means. The following is a list of the most commonly encountered terms and phrases used in eBook layouts.
The layout of an eBook relates to its actual physical formatting. This is one of the most important elements of your written work, since your eBook will need to be well-organized, received, and easily readable in order to impress an audience. If you are considering the sale of your eBook on Kindle, proper layout will be paramount.
Just like white space in an email, margins are the white spaces between your text and the sides of a Word document. Margins can exist on the right, left, bottom, and top of your piece, and are usually the same on every eBook page. Although margins are not specified by Kindle, they are still an important part of the eBook publishing process.
Each time you space down to a new page in your document, you will have created a section break. These are especially important formatting elements for chapter headings, epilogues, and other ‘fresh’ content. Interestingly, section breaks are one of the most difficult functions to use for new Kindle eBook writers.
Whether or not you are writing a for-print book, pagination is very important for you, Kindle, and potential readers. Pagination, also known as page numbers, are ‘progress’ indicators in the headers or footers of a document. These help readers organize the layout of your eBook, and understand where they are in the work. eBook page numbers can be flush left, right, or centered in the document’s header or footer. However, they are not necessary to the upload of the final piece (Kindle will handle all that for you with AI and other magic).
Table Of Contents (TOC)
Sometimes called front and back matter, navigation pages, or tabular arrays, a table of contents (TOC) is a section of your eBook that specifically lists all of the subject matter that can be found inside. Although these TOCs do not necessarily need to be exhaustive, they will need to list all section titles and their page numbers in a succinct way.
Layout Requirements For Kindle eBooks
In order to be successfully published by the system, Kindle requires all submitted eBooks to follow a very particular formatting structure. You can find all of their official rules under this link here, but if you want the short notes, we have them listed below.
- Currently published physical books must be reformatted into the Kindle eBooks style to prevent rejections and system snags.
- Line spacing must be single (not double) in order to clear Kindle’s upload process.
- Each paragraph must be indented by 0.2 inches (5 millimeters).
- Titles, headers, and chapter breaks must be formatted with headers (H1, H2, etc).
- Front matter must be included in every eBook. This will involve a title page, dedication page, and copyright page.
- Back matter must be included in every eBook. These may include an “About the Author” page or resource bibliography.
- All eBooks are required to have a table of contents (TOC) at the end of the book.
If your eBook fails to include one or more of the following layout elements, it may be rejected from Kindle’s initial review system. It will be important to double or even triple check your manuscripts to ensure that all rules are being followed properly.
Why Page Margins Are Important To Kindle eBooks
If you are not planning on printing out your eBook, why does Kindle care so much about page margins?
The answer: mobile devices.
Kindle eBooks can be read on almost any device, from phones and tablets to desktop computers. Because of the wide variety of screen sizes and monitor lengths, there is no way to predict how your eBook will appear to all readers. However, you can follow some good rules of thumb to help reduce confusion and increase consistency.
- Use 0.5 inches on top and bottom margins.
- Use 0.8 inches on left and right margins.
- Only 3 or 4 line spaces should separate new lines of text.
Put simply, page margins are essential for both eBook and paperback manuscripts submitted to the Kindle platform. Even if you really don’t feel like it, following the rules is really in your best interest. Plus, you will have a much better shot at securing a larger reader base as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Kindle eBook Layouts: Your Dos And Don’ts
If you want to create a Kindle eBook layout quickly, cleanly, and concisely, you will need to know where the pitfalls are.
Here are some other Kindle eBook layout tips written by KDP itself:
DO: Use spellcheck
Nobody wants to read an eBook full of grammar issues, misspelled words, or missing periods. Use the spellcheck function embedded into your Word program to ensure the highest possible quality of work.
DON’T: Upload large images.
Some larger pictures, diagrams, or charts can be left out of the Kindle eBook uploading process. For additional help in getting this system to work, reach out to a KDP expert.
DO: Insert hyperlinks.
Use the ‘insert hyperlinks’ function in Word to link relevant information to keywords. This is great for both marketing your book and for backing up any claims made inside the text. You can also link to an author profile or LinkedIn page within your front or back matter.
DON’T: Track changes in Word.
Tracking changes in Word will lead to strange formatting issues and missing text. This function can be turned off inside the main Word program and toggled at will.
DO: Leave out the cover image.
The cover photo for your eBook should be uploaded to Kindle using a separate link. There is no reason to leave the image inside the document (since it may lead to uploading issues down the line).
DON’T: Insert text boxes or shapes.
Kindle has a long history of problems with text boxes or inserted shapes inside uploaded Word documents. It’s best to avoid these if at all possible.
DO: Preview your eBook with Kindle functions.
Once you have uploaded your Kindle eBook into the system, take a glance at the finished product to ensure it looks right on multiple platforms. Click ‘preview’ to check your work on tablets, Kindle E-readers, and mobile phones.
Building A Word Doc With Kindle’s eBook Formatting Rules
It is important to note that the formatting requirements for eBooks are extremely different from print books, especially in terms of layout and margin. However, both formats share some similar points that should be considered pre-submission.
Thankfully, Kindle does offer some downloadable Word documents that have some formatting information built-in to the page. While this is a great place to start, it may not necessarily offer everything you need to complete your piece. This is why having a solid understanding of the rules and requirements of eBook formatting is so important.
Related article: How To Protect Your Book From Plagiarism
Kindle eBook Layouts And Page Margins: FAQ
Q: Does Kindle need me to include page numbers?
A: Page numbers are not required to be included with your eBook submission. The program is built to identify the number of pages in your upload without pagination. However, it may be helpful for you to have clearly marked pages in the initial drafts of your eBook.
Q: Is there a set size requirement for page margins for Kindle eBooks?
A: There is no specified margin size listed by Kindle. However, it is important to follow the guidance above to avoid confusing your readers with strange symbols or formatting errors.
Q: Can I add ‘fancy’ symbols like drop caps in my eBook layout?
A: Adding drop caps is a supported function in the Kindle Create program. Word document drop caps may not appear correctly after the Kindle upload. Use Kindle’s system to ensure your symbols are being correctly generated.
If you still have questions related to your Kindle eBook layouts, or are concerned that there is a problem with your layout or margin sections, don’t hesitate to reach out to the KDP Community Forum for more help. You, and the success of your eBook, deserve it!