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Permlink Replies: 12 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Jun 12, 2012 4:59 PM Last Post By: punchygonzales
jessjess91

Posts: 17
Registered: 06/06/12
Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 6, 2012 11:18 AM
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I love publishing to Kindle. But that being said.... I find the variations in how things look to a customer to be very frustrating on all the different platforms.

I have the ability to ck four of them in my home (Kindle for MAC, Kindle for PC, regular kindle reader, and preview), but I have family members with IPADS and FIRE to show me the 5th and 6th options on how it looks.

Why on earth is the format so different across all those platforms and is there "one way" to format that looks the best possible on all of them? Has anyone either posted or made a cheat sheet of "best of the best" ideas for formatting?

I think some of the format docs on this forum are now old, the ones that I used to format my 1st book, because I feel like they changed their software since then. and following them now doesn't work the same a publishing just a few months ago.

What used to work on Kindle for Mac no longer works. It seems like Kindle for Mac got way more sophisticated.

Examples: What used to follow the old way, of "showing single spaced even if you have it double" or "only indenting special sections on the left side and not the right" doesn't apply anymore to Kindle for Mac. So what looked wonderful when I published now looks terrible on the same book when read on a MAC. That same document used to open and look great.

And I hadn't changed anything (until I discovered this and repubbed last night)

I think one example of a glitch that is beyond annoying that people here have mentioned is that Kindle for Windows wont show lines until you use shift / enter instead of just enter. But all other platforms notice the space.
So when you preview on Preview, Kindle for Mac or a regular kindle reader it looks great but not on Win in those cases.

But sometimes in trying to correct for WIndows, you end up with an extra space on the other three. (I feel like I go around the circle a lot fixing the same stuff. )

But now that Kindle Mac has gotten to where it can actually show indented block text on BOTH sides of a special section (like I put journal entries further in than regular text) and it can show indents on both sides. Before I never bothered to set the right margin b/c it wouldn't show up anyway. Now I have to or my books look off center.

Does anyone have a cheat sheet based on current software needs of all platforms that is the best way to have the least format oddities across all ways people may read?
notjohn

Posts: 15,241
Registered: 01/06/10
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 6, 2012 1:02 PM   in response to: jessjess91 in response to: jessjess91
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If you download the previewer software (option to do that on Step 6 after you have successfully uploaded your book) you can then download the converted book file (same place) and look at it in an emulator for the Fire.

I wouldn't worry about Kindle4PC. It's a pretty lame bit of software and I don't think many people use it.

The way to get good results across all platforms is not to be fancy. It's a big mistake IMHO to try to Design an e-book. You can't tell what device the reader will be using, what font size he wants to read it in, or whether he's holding it horizontally or vertically. Even with K4PC, he can tweak the appearance in a variety of ways.

And indeed there are two bulletproof ways to get line spaces in K4PC (and presumably 4Mac). One, use four tildes ~~~~ centered when you absolutely must have a break. Two, start working in html and use a style sheet calling for "margin-top:1.0em". I used to do the former; I now do the latter.
mrlasers

Posts: 1,633
Registered: 07/06/11
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 6, 2012 1:26 PM   in response to: jessjess91 in response to: jessjess91
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[b]NOTE: The general information in this post applies to Kindle readers [i]in general[/i], but my specific examples are provided for direct development in HTML/CSS. This is obviously how I develop eBooks and certainly the best way to get precision results. Some of this information may be translatable to software such as Word, but definitely not all.[/b]

The primary reason that there is so much difference across platforms these days is that the Kindle format actually includes two (often) very different versions of the book. The first is in the "Mobi7" (sometimes called "MobiPocket" or just "Mobi") format, which is the original format that has been in use since the launch of Kindle in 2007. The other is in the newer Kindle Format 8 (KF8) that launched with Kindle Fire. This latter format is feature similar to ePub and supports a far greater range of formatting options. When your book is compiled with KindleGen (or through the KDP website) the content is converted into both of these formats and then both are inserted into a single Kindle eBook file.

Currently KF8 should be supported, with the latest software updates, on Kindle Fire, Kindle for Android, Kindle Touch(*), Kindle for PC/Mac, and Kindle Cloud Reader. KF8 support should eventually make it to iOS devices, and surely will be included in future dedicated Kindle readers, but I wouldn't hold my breath for support to be added to 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (Kindle Keyboard) generation eInk devices.

In addition to these fundamental differences in format, there are also some cases where different readers will support the same formatting differently. For example, on an eInk Kindle displaying the Mobi7 version of a book, if you have a bottom margin of 0.5em set (CSS: margin-bottom:0.5em) you will get one blank line of space following that paragraph. However, on iOS devices (according to previewer, I haven't one to test with myself so feel free to correct this if you have first hand experience to the contrary) this will result in a zero-length bottom margin. On KF8 devices this same coding will result in a blank space that is half the height of a line.

A good way to work around issues like this is through the use of media queries in CSS. For the above example you could do something like this for KF8 to get that half-line space (condensed for space, not a good code-writing practice):

@media not amzn-mobi { p.space-after { margin-bottom:0.5em; } }

And then this to get a consistent one-line space on Mobi7 devices:

@media amzn-mobi { p.space-after { margin-bottom:1em; } }

In general it won't be necessary to use media queries for all of your styles. Sometimes it can be easier to start with entirely separate stylesheets for each platform while you are just getting a feel for the work, but eventually you'll probably want to make your styles as universal as possible and then make alternative versions of only the classes that need platform-specific instructions.

While I don't have a cheat sheet on these differences, and I'd probably wind up writing at least half a book on the subject if I put one together, there are a few quick tips I can give to make things easier on you. These are fairly general and should apply to most software that you can use to format your book:

1. Avoid top margins, called "spacing before" in many word processors. While these are supported in both Mobi7 and KF8, there are some quirks in Mobi7 that will almost certainly cause you some headaches. Better to just avoid them and stick with bottom margins ("spacing after").

2. [i]Always[/i] use single-spaced paragraphs. While double-spacing is ignored in Mobi7, KF8 readers will interpret this formatting if it is in your source file. Don't do it unless you actually want your book to look that way, and I can't really think of a reason you would.

3. Set both left and right margins (indents in some software, not to be confused with first-line indentation) for sections that you want to appear as a more narrow column of text in the book. The right margin will be ignored for the Mobi7 version, but both margins will appear in KF8.

4. Insert images into their own paragraphs and center those paragraphs. This will give the best results as a general rule. If you want to get fancier it's usually going to require specialized formatting that targets Mobi7 and KF8 separately.

5. For standard, indented paragraphs, set explicit first line indentation with no margins. KF8 readers default to block paragraphs with about half a line of blank space between each. In contrast Mobi7 readers default to no spacing and a first line indent. Setting this explicitly will make your text more uniform, though final results may vary based on the software and method used to get the content onto Kindle.

6. Always indent using styles, never using spaces or tabs. Not only will spaces and tabs not translate to Kindle for this purpose, in many word processors they can introduce severe formatting defects (primarily due to autocorrect features) that will not be obvious in the word processor itself but will make a huge mess on Kindle.

For basic books I can't really think of anything else that would generally be required. Obviously you won't get a totally first class Kindle book using something like Word, but you can definitely get a result that is more or less adequate. For best results HTML/CSS really should be used, but of course that will not be an option for many people.

  • Kindle Touch's KF8 support has some notable shortcomings, including a more limited set of default fonts and a requirement that users manually enable "publisher fonts" to view embedded TrueType or OpenType fonts in the Kindle book.

--
MrLasers
eBook Formatting & Production
http://www.mrlasers.com
cjeasyaspie

Posts: 2,378
Registered: 05/28/09
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 7, 2012 10:37 AM   in response to: mrlasers in response to: mrlasers
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MrLasers said:
For basic books I can't really think of anything else that would generally be required.
Obviously you won't get a totally first class Kindle book using something like Word,
but you can definitely get a result that is more or less adequate. For best results HTML/CSS really should be used, but of course that will not be an option for many people.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials, Replies:

MrLasers

Your comment in the quote above (which I copy below for clarity):

Obviously you won't get a totally first class Kindle book using something like Word,

Echoes a belief that is held by many HTML users.

I, on the other hand, am just as confident that I can (for that “basic” book you mention) create a “totally first-class” Kindle book with MS Word… the equal of anything you can do with HTML/CSS.

If I am wrong, I’m anxious to disavow myself of that belief.

To help me do that… would you give me a link to one of your “basic books” (not KF 8 or side-by-side “children’s book layout”) that you created with HTML?

That will give me an example to try to emulate with MS Word what you have done with HTML.

If I can’t do it, then I will quit claiming that I can. smile

Thanks very much!

Happy Kindling,

CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials
http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/
cj-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com
booknookbiz

Posts: 2,044
Registered: 03/04/10
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 8, 2012 2:57 AM   in response to: cjeasyaspie in response to: cjeasyaspie
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Ceej:

You know I respect you. BUT:

You can't embed fonts with Word, just for one thing.
You can't do a dropcap that will work in both K8 and K7 formats.

That's two things. You can't do fallback formatting, e.g., "display this THIS way in K8, but THIS way in K7." You can't do a kid's book with fixed format.

Now, if the discussion is "basic books," then let's define what that term means, because at my shop, I do not believe, off the top of my head, that we have any books that are "basic" that we could also do in Word. This is not to say that Word won't turn out a perfectly respectable and sellable book; but there are discernible differences between books that are done in HTML and books done in Word.

FWIW.

Hitch
We produce ebooks
Listed as an Amazon Professional Conversion Service: http://bit.ly/uFwMwb
An INScribe Preferred Conversion Partner
http://www.booknook.biz/
Follow me on Twitter: @BookNookBiz
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
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cjeasyaspie

Posts: 2,378
Registered: 05/28/09
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 8, 2012 8:26 AM   in response to: booknookbiz in response to: booknookbiz
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Hi Hitch,

The respect goes both ways, as you know... but that doesn't mean we can't both have our different areas of expertise.

The subject is "basic books"... specifically NOT K8 and NOT "a kid's book with fixed format".

Since mrlasers hasn't responded, I downloaded "your" book that you mentioned a couple of days ago... Jackie Collins, "Chances".

I have a deadline looming, so can't spend long on it, but with a quick look, I don't see anything that I can't do in Word.

I'll look at it in more depth later, but, if you have something specific in mind, please tell me where it is.

Just a couple of things for now...

Yes you can embed fonts into Word...

AND...

Yes, you can do a very nice drop cap in Word.

It looks great on the Kindle Fire... and, while it is less impressive on e-ink devices, it is still quite acceptable.

The same is true, of course, of many other "special touches", such as the Chapter Headings in your Jackie Collins book,"Chances"...

They look different on my Kindle Fire and my K2 and K3.

There may be other things I just haven't seen yet... but I will look some more.

Be back later...

Happy Kindling,

CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials
http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/
cj-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com


Ceej:

You know I respect you. BUT:

You can't embed fonts with Word, just for one thing.

ou can't do a dropcap that will work in both K8 and
K7 formats.

That's two things. You can't do fallback formatting,
e.g., "display this THIS way in K8, but THIS way in
K7." You can't do a kid's book with fixed format.

Now, if the discussion is "basic books," then let's
define what that term means, because at my shop, I do
not believe, off the top of my head, that we have any
books that are "basic" that we could also do in Word.
This is not to say that Word won't turn out a
perfectly respectable and sellable book; but there
are discernible differences between books that are
done in HTML and books done in Word.

FWIW.

Hitch
We produce ebooks
Listed as an Amazon Professional Conversion Service:
http://bit.ly/uFwMwb
n INScribe Preferred Conversion Partner
http://www.booknook.biz/
Follow me on Twitter: @BookNookBiz
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional
to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

  • Red Adair
cjeasyaspie

Posts: 2,378
Registered: 05/28/09
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 11, 2012 8:07 PM   in response to: cjeasyaspie in response to: cjeasyaspie
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@Hitch,

I’ve now looked through one of your books (a book that was done in your shop, that is)… the Kindle edition of Jackie Collins’ “Chances”.

It is, as I expected, exquisitely formatted.

But also, as I expected, the formatting is entirely within the realm of MS Word capabilities.

This is the category that I call “plain vanilla” fiction format… probably what MRLasers calls a “basic” book… a group that also includes a large percentage of Kindle books.

And… to get to the point… that large percentage of books could be more easily, and just as beautifully, formatted with MS Word as with more complicated software.

That’s the reason I am so dismayed to see statements such as MRLasers’, that MSWord is incapable of producing a “first class Kindle book”.

@MRLASERS…

I’m still waiting for your example that will prove your comment:

Obviously you won't get a totally first class Kindle book using something like Word

You make such comments often… and since this is an official Kindle Publishing forum, where people come for facts, it’s important to prove your statement, if, indeed, it is true.

Happy Kindling,

CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials
http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/
CJ-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com

Hi Hitch,

The respect goes both ways, as you know... but that
doesn't mean we can't both have our different areas
of expertise.

The subject is "basic books"... specifically NOT K8
and NOT "a kid's book with fixed format".

Since mrlasers hasn't responded, I downloaded "your"
book that you mentioned a couple of days ago...
Jackie Collins, "Chances".

I have a deadline looming, so can't spend long on it,
but with a quick look, I don't see anything that I
can't do in Word.

I'll look at it in more depth later, but, if you have
something specific in mind, please tell me where it
is.

Just a couple of things for now...

Yes you can embed fonts into Word...

AND...

Yes, you can do a very nice drop cap in Word.

It looks great on the Kindle Fire... and, while it is
less impressive on e-ink devices, it is still quite
acceptable.

The same is true, of course, of many other "special
touches", such as the Chapter Headings in your Jackie
Collins book,"Chances"...

They look different on my Kindle Fire and my K2 and
K3.

There may be other things I just haven't seen yet...
but I will look some more.

Be back later...

Happy Kindling,

CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials
http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/
cj-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com

Ceej:

You know I respect you. BUT:

You can't embed fonts with Word, just for one

thing.

ou can't do a dropcap that will work in both K8
and
K7 formats.

That's two things. You can't do fallback

formatting,
e.g., "display this THIS way in K8, but THIS way
in
K7." You can't do a kid's book with fixed format.

Now, if the discussion is "basic books," then let's
define what that term means, because at my shop, I
do
not believe, off the top of my head, that we have
any
books that are "basic" that we could also do in
Word.
This is not to say that Word won't turn out a
perfectly respectable and sellable book; but there
are discernible differences between books that are
done in HTML and books done in Word.

FWIW.

Hitch
We produce ebooks
Listed as an Amazon Professional Conversion

Service:
http://bit.ly/uFwMwb
n INScribe Preferred Conversion Partner
http://www.booknook.biz/
Follow me on Twitter: @BookNookBiz
"If you think it's expensive to hire a
professional
to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
  • Red Adair

Happy Kindling,

CJ, at CJ's Easy as Pie Kindle Tutorials
http://www.cjs-easy-as-pie.com/
cj-01@cjs-easy-as-pie.com

booknookbiz

Posts: 2,044
Registered: 03/04/10
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 3:03 AM   in response to: cjeasyaspie in response to: cjeasyaspie
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@Ceej:

(When the big dog speaks as to [i]precisely [/i]how she wants her books, we simply ask, How High?).

;-)

However, that being said, thanks for your nice words about the formatting on her novel.

Hitch
We produce ebooks
Listed as an Amazon Professional Conversion Service: http://bit.ly/uFwMwb
An INScribe Preferred Conversion Partner
http://www.booknook.biz/
Follow me on Twitter: @BookNookBiz
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
  • Red Adair

Added the thanks!


Message was edited by: bkhitch

punchygonzales

Posts: 2,853
Registered: 11/26/11
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 6:39 AM   in response to: jessjess91 in response to: jessjess91
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You've stated the problem quite well. The solution is [b]industry standards[/b] of which there basically are none at the moment. There's not even a committee for them. There should be such a committee with representatives from every manufacturer of e-readers giving equal input. They should start with a standard for screen dimensions and then pick one e-book format (and most would agree that epub should be it) and stick to it. Then choose standards for things like right indents, centering, and margins. But they're too busy playing king of the hill like little children to care about meeting their customer's needs at the moment.
cjeasyaspie

Posts: 2,378
Registered: 05/28/09
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 6:42 AM   in response to: booknookbiz in response to: booknookbiz
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I can only imagine!

I know you've done many books for prominent authors, but this one must have been a real high!

CJ
booknookbiz

Posts: 2,044
Registered: 03/04/10
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 1:01 PM   in response to: cjeasyaspie in response to: cjeasyaspie
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I can only imagine!

I know you've done many books for prominent authors,
but this one must have been a real high!

CJ


Hmmmm...I shan't repeat here what I actually said INTO the phone--I thought I was being punked. LOL! With the others, I just got kinda dumb, like "are you THE Julie Smith?," but this time, I simply thought someone from here, or wherever, was playing a prank. Fortuitously, they were all really cool about it. ;-0

Hitch
We produce ebooks
Listed as an Amazon Professional Conversion Service: http://bit.ly/uFwMwb
An INScribe Preferred Conversion Partner
http://www.booknook.biz/
Follow me on Twitter: @BookNookBiz

Speaking of...get Jackie Collins' Chances on Amazon: http://amzn.to/LdU1Qz -- and see how the Big Girls write it!
notjohn

Posts: 15,241
Registered: 01/06/10
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 1:48 PM   in response to: punchygonzales in response to: punchygonzales
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**and most would agree that epub should be it)**

Well, that's where the committee breaks down. It's rather like the UN General Assembly, where the US puts in the money and gets one vote, same as Zaire.

Why would Amazon, which sells most of the books, adopt Barnes & Nobles's platform?
punchygonzales

Posts: 2,853
Registered: 11/26/11
Re: Format across platforms
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 4:58 PM   in response to: notjohn in response to: notjohn
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Epub is virtually everybody's platform with the single exception of Amazon. So that's the first reason they should adopt it. The second is that Amazon will be playing catch-up to B&N within the next year or two. The Nook w/Glowlight is selling like there's no tomorrow and has now become THE e-reader to have. And now Microsoft is bank-rolling them so they can go international both in real stores and websites. Plus there's a very real cabal of publishers, e-reader/tablet manufacturers, and e-book retailers that are determined to take Amazon down. Between Microsoft, B&N, Sony, and Apple, (among others) Amazon simply doesn't have a prayer. And they brought it on themselves with all out greed in the first place. They weren't satisfied to make a living--they just had to make a killing and try to wipe out every other ebook retailer with their built-in book customer base and proprietary format. Now it's coming back to haunt them and they deserve every bit of it. If they at least go to epub soon like they should have in the first place and quit trying to price-fix the e-book publishing industry, MAYBE they can survive this attack their under. I don't see where they have a choice. MS backing B&N has put them in a corner from which there is no escape. Two more years....
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