Formatting Your Book’s Indents for Kindle in Microsoft Word: The Trick Formatting Pros Don’t Want You to Know
You’ve seen it before—what Amazon’s Kindle file conversion software does to your indents. Why does it do that? Because they neglected to create a conversion software that recognizes use of the “Tab” button. Yep, that’s right. As common as it is for people to hit “Tab” when beginning a new paragraph (because, of course, we’ve all had it drilled into us when learning to type that you hit “Enter” and “Tab” to start a new paragraph), the geniuses at KDP decided to use a conversion program that doesn’t read the “Tab” button correctly!
The result of this sloppy oversight? Oversized, uneven indents throughout your document and despair and frustration when you realize that deleting all of those Tab Stops by hand will take forever and a day…and a bout of pure annoyance at the prospect of possibly having to pay someone else to fix what Amazon broke. But, fear not, for I have discovered the hidden secret to fixing thousands of mutilated paragraphs in just a matter of minutes in Microsoft Word. These instructions are made for use with Word 2010, but newer versions probably have roughly the same set-up.
Step 1: Mass Deleting Tab Stops
The big mindblower about having to fix all of those paragraphs is deleting Tab Stops (indents created through the use of the “Tab” button) by hand. No one wants to do that crap, and there is no obvious way to do it more efficiently. The solution to this problem is literally buried in Microsoft Word’s help section.
So, what’s the secret? First, open up a “Find and Replace” search in Microsoft Word. Next, type ^t in the “Find what?” box, and leave the “Replace with” box blank. Finally, just hit the “Replace All” button and, boom, your manual indents have all been erased.
Step 2: Cleaning House
Once you’ve mass deleted those Tab Stops, it’s time to insert your indents in a way that KDP’s conversion software can understand. To do this, first open the “Paragraph” menu in word. You can find it under the “Home” tab beneath the area with the text alignment buttons or under the “Page Layout” tab under the indent and spacing controls.
Once you’ve opened the menu, go to the “Indent” section and select the “Special” dropdown menu. Under “Special”, click the “First Line Indent” option and adjust the indent number to your liking. I prefer 0.3, but you might like yours larger or smaller. Then, click “Save as Default” to save your setting and you’re ready to roll.
Now that that’s set up, highlight the first block of paragraphs that you need to indent. Then, open the “Paragraph” menu, select “First Line Indent” under “Special”, and click the “OK” button. Lather, rinse, and repeat until you’ve returned the indents to every applicable paragraph. For a 450+ page book, the entire process takes less than half an hour…and it’s absolutely free, too!
If It’s This Simple, Then Why Doesn’t Amazon Give Us the Code?!
The answer to that is elementary: Amazon doesn’t cough up the ^t search code for manual Tab Stops because they want to drum up business for ebook formatting services. I mean, why else would they use a conversion software that doesn’t read uses of the “Tab” button correctly in the first place? Someone at KDP clearly has a friend, relative, or acquaintance who does ebook formatting and decided that if as many people as possible are ignorant of this secret search code, the ebook formatting industry will make more money.
Remember, knowledge is not only power, it’s also money that stays in your pocket.