Home » Writing » Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

I’ve had a few emails from people asking about when I publish my books on Smashwords if they go through the ‘Meatgrinder’ and how do I do it.

I have to say I’ve never had a problem with Smashwords and all my books have gone through first time with no trouble. So, instead of copying and pasting the answer to reply to the emails, I thought I would do a blog on it.

Please note that these are just some of the things I do to get my books through Smashwords and Kindle, don’t take it as fact! I highly recommend reading both Kindle’s guide and Smashwords style guide in order to better understand the process.

This is a comparison of the same manuscript (my newest release, The Magic Spark) put through Smashwords (on the left) compared to Kindle (on the right).


Kindle Formatting:

– Justified alignment.
– Max Font Size: 20.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing between paragraphs/lines: Not above 90pt.
– Copyright: Normal.

Smashwords Formatting:

– Left alignment.
– Max Font Size: 18.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing Between paragraphs/lines: Not above 98pt.
– Copyright: Must have ‘Smashwords Edition’ included.

– The reason I don’t go over font size 18 for Smashwords is because they don’t accept a font size bigger than 20. So I make sure to keep it less so as I know my document will go through.

– I use Left alignment for Smashwords because I read on a couple of forums that Smashwords have rejected Justified alignment for others. I doubt it matters much to the average reader which alignment it is.

Some people don’t like the large gaps that can occur between words when Justified, and then others don’t like the straggling words at the end of paragraphs when left aligned. You can’t please everyone!

– Smashwords doesn’t like when you have more than two return spaces together. So check your document for them (You can see them when you press the psymbol symbol).

An easy way to do this would be to open up the ‘Find and Replace’ feature in Word, go to the bottom and you will a tab for Special, click on the ‘Paragraph Mark’ three times (or as many times as you have done it each time in document, say to add a page break) in the Find bar. In the Replace bar, click it once or twice as needed, but no more than twice.


That should replace all those unnecessary spaces.

(The code for this is ^p – which you can type into the Find and Replace bars as needed eg for 2 returns it would read ^p^p).

Same applies to the spacebar, if you accidentally hit the space bar more than once. Use the ‘Replace and Find’ function for that two, using the spacebar instead of return key to get rid of those spaces.

Make sure to use the Format>Paragraph tool to add line spaces instead of using the return key on your keyboard.

– I always use the Format>Paragraph, Format>Font, and Insert>Break tools in order to add spaces or change font type, as this formatting sticks.

– As for the copyright, Smashwords require that you state ‘Smashwords Edition’, but Kindle (from what I’ve read) don’t like it all if you put ‘Kindle edition’ or ‘Amazon edition’.

– Spelling errors, an obvious one 😀 But I’d thought I’d add it. After all the editing, proofreading, and sending it off to readers to check, it’s still a good idea to run your document through the spellchecker before submitting it.

I take the time to bother with Smashwords as it’s a great portal for sending out your book to so many places once you’re on the Premium catalogue. They are doing the work of changing your document into many different forms, so I think it’s only fair I take the effort to get it just right following their guidelines

I know some people have issues with Smashwords, but personally, I have had no trouble and think it’s a great site.

In the end, it’s about choosing the places that suit you and your books and finding markets that you’re comfortable with 🙂

These are just what I do, because I’ve been asked, please don’t think I’m telling you what to do! Again, it’s all a very personal experience about how we organise and sort our manuscripts ready for publishing, and there are many other great blogs out there with advice on it (probably better explained too!).

Well, that’s about all I do 😀 Formatting can be great fun, as it can let you play about with your manuscript and make it look really professional and high standard. I hope these tips help!

Have a great weekend everyone and I will be back on Monday! ( I do have some scheduled posts as usual, but I won’t be around to answer comments or emails, please don’t think I’m ignoring you! 😀 ).

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 3678 (Total word count: 17,880).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

45 thoughts on “Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m getting ready to publish in a few months so I need all the help I can get. What about margins? What do you set those to?

    • You know, margins are something I’ve never worried about or set (well, until it comes to Createspace!).
      I set my first line indents at 0.5cm, and that’s pretty much all I do.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help!

      Have a great weekend and I hope the tips help at least a little 🙂

      • I would assume it does. I left my margins at what they were on a new Word document and have never had problems.

        I would double check your preview file before publishing, that way you can know for certain, but I expect ti doesn’t really matter 🙂

        Good luck with it! Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything else, sorry I’m not much use on the margins issue!

      • Thank you so much . . . as far as the paperback issue . . . does Amazon automatically format that or do you use the same formatting?

      • That is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. I’d hate to pay someone to do something I could just do myself, you know?

        I think it’s great how authors are willing to share tools. I for one, greatly appreciate it!

  2. A really useful post. Thank you! I’ve never tried to format anything, either in Smashwords or elsewhere, but if/when I do this post will be my first port of call. Happy weekend. 🙂

      • No, I think you have explained really well. And it shows all the work you have to do if you self publish too. Well done girl. Self publishing is something I am considering in the future because it does give so much more control over your books.

  3. I’ve read the Smashwords formatting book. I forgot about finding the double spaces after the periods. I need to go back and fix those on my MSs. Thanks for the great info!

  4. Pingback: A Look Editing | C.K.Rich

  5. Thanks Mishka for sharing! This is very helpful advice, especially since I will have to think about formatting my stories into ebooks 🙂

  6. Thanks for this. I know I’ve had a few clients wondering about formatting their books for various outlets, and I’ve never had any information to give them. I imagine it’s a pretty common question among self-publishers.


  8. Nice summary, Mishka. BTW the Smashwords Edition is no longer required. I uploaded a book a week ago without it and it went through OK. Mark Coker has posted on this change somewhere, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten where 🙂

  9. Pingback: Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips | Writin...

  10. I had no idea of the formatting intricacies on Smashwords and Amazon. I already know I’ve got a problem with spaces (showing my age, but was taught to put 2 spaces after periods…I guess we don’t do that now!)

  11. It’s now optional whether to include “Smashwords edition.” On September 24th Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords posted on their site that they’ve reconsidered this requirement. So its absence shouldn’t prevent your book from successfully uploading at Smashwords.

  12. Excellent advice, Mishka. I’m thinking of publishing the Fifth Watcher with Smash Words, so it couldn’t have come at a better time! As you can see, I’m way behind again with my favourite blogs. It’s been chaotic 🙂 I loved the Magic Spark and will be posting a review of it on Wednesday.

  13. Reblogged this on Write on and commented:
    A useful guide to self-publishing with Kindle and Smashwords. Thanks very much, Mishka Jenkins of ‘A Writer’s Life for Me’.

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