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HTML Fixes for Kindle

Advanced Self Publishing for Kindle Books


Tips on Tweaking Your App’s HTML So Your Ebooks Look Their Best

Book cover

By Aaron Shepard

Have you ever opened a Kindle book to find that the font started out way too small or way too large? Have you tried to change to a different font while reading and discovered you couldn't? Have you jumped to a new chapter in a Kindle book and seen that the chapter heading lost its formatting? Has a Kindle completely ignored formatting you knew was in the book?

According to Amazon, the simplest way to publish your Kindle book is to upload an HTML file you've saved from Microsoft Word or another app. By itself, that method can bring you maybe 80% of the way to a well-formatted, trouble‑free ebook. But what about the other 20%?

In this follow‑up to his bestselling From Word to Kindle, Aaron Shepard takes your saved HTML as a starting point and tells how to quickly tweak and tune it to avoid common problems. Assuming no knowledge of HTML, he introduces the basics of the language, then reveals how to use find-and-replace and macros to touch up an entire book in seconds!

If you’re serious about Kindle publishing and you’re technically inclined—but not a full‑fledged geek—Aaron provides the tips you need to bring your Kindle book to the next level, making it something truly to be proud of.

Aaron Shepard is a foremost proponent of the new business of profitable self publishing, which he has practiced and helped develop since 1998. Unlike most authorities on self publishing, he makes the bulk of his living from his self-published books—not from consulting, speaking, freelance writing, or selling publishing services. In a parallel life, Aaron is an award-winning children’s author with numerous books from publishers large and small.

Shepard Publications

Ebook ~ 2013

Paperback ~ 2013

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Getting Started


HTML and Kindle

HTML Export

HTML Editing

HTML Processing

HTML Basics

HTML Checking

HTML Cleanup

HTML Testing


Fixes for Fonts

Fixes for Paragraphs

Fixes for Headings

Fixes for Line Breaking

Fixes for Pictures

Fixes for Navigation

Sample Text

If you’re publishing on Kindle, chances are you want your book to look its very best. But that often requires a task not performed by most Kindle authors—namely, refining the HTML you submit.

Many authors follow Amazon’s recommended approach to create their Kindle book: Compose in Microsoft Word, export to HTML—the language of ebooks and the Web—then submit to Amazon KDP. It’s an approach I discuss in detail in my book From Word to Kindle. Other authors use similar methods with other word processors.

Done correctly, formatting in a word processor like Word can bring you maybe 80% of the way to a well-formatted ebook. But if you want your book to look as good as it can, there’s that other 20% to worry about. Now, perfection is not really possible on the Kindle, given the quirks, bugs, and limitations of the platform itself. But you can come closer—if you’re willing to tinker with HTML.

Does that idea scare you? It doesn’t need to. You don’t have to read that language (though it certainly won’t hurt if you do want to learn). All you need is to be able to recognize small bits of code I’ll point out to you, and shift them or replace them with other bits. And all these changes can be done with find-and-replace operations. In fact, if you set up a master macro as I recommend, the whole job can be finished in seconds.

Here are some of the things you can accomplish through changes in HTML.

• Adjust bookmarks so headings retain proper formatting when jumped to.

• Remove settings that stop the user from choosing their own.

• Keep fonts from appearing much too small or much too large when the book is opened.

• Make sure indents and other spacing stays relative to larger and smaller font sizes.

• Avoid line breaks that leave short words dangling at the ends of lines or paragraphs.

• Make up for features lost in translation from your word processor, like nonbreaking hyphens.

• Stop “ghost hyphens” from appearing in the middle of words.

• Keep pages of text from disappearing for some users.

• Prevent the Kindle from applying its own defaults in place of your settings.

Since Word is the most common tool for generating HTML for Kindle, I’ll focus mostly on Word’s exported code, making this book a perfect companion to my earlier one. But if you’re using a different word processor or a dedicated ebook tool—or even if you’re writing HTML directly—the general principles I provide should still help. In fact, I’ll provide some tips on Kindle formatting with HTML that you won’t find even in books dedicated to that approach.

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