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man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 5:31 PM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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This is a free Windows command line app specifically designed for HTML-fearing, non-techie Word users that anybody can download and use from here.

Thanks for sharing, I will read the manual over the weekend.
William Thompson

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Re: Guidelines on creating Table of Contents, Cover & Beginning links properly
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 5:36 PM   in response to: rtayek in response to: rtayek
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Hi rtayek...There is absolutely no need to convert an epub to zip for what you want to do.

To introduce a date to make your epub pass epubcheck, simply click on the metadata toolbar button in Sigil (top right), fill out the title and author sections then click on Add Basic and select Date Modification and your done. This will automatically insert a modification date in the metadata of the content.opf. and is a much quicker and safer method which works just as well as the manual and more laborious zipfile route -- but its much quicker.

Similarly, there also is no need to create your ncx from a zipfile. When you open your ebook as an epub in Sigil just look in the Book Browser on the left which is a sort of directory tree. At the bottom of this directory tree you will see the toc.ncx and the content .opf which you can edit to your hearts content from within the Sigil editor with one click.

What's more, if you don't like the html or xml editors in Sigil you can conveniently choose an outside application from within Sigil to implement your changes. Here's how to do it:

Let's say you want to change the ncx, spine or manifest data in your epub, you should always do it this way in Sigil for speed:

*Right click on the toc.ncx file in the Book Browser.

*Choose Open With... and select an external XML or HTML editor of your own choice -- Notepad or Notepad++ or DreamWeaver etc

*Now edit your XML in the editor of your choice

*Then save your changes -- and your changes will automatically be saved back to your epub file in Sigil.

Using outside applications from within Sigil is a much more powerful and faster way of editing the text, HTML, CSS or XML in Sigil because you never have to leave the Sigil application itself. So lots of time saved.
man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 5:42 PM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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You just have to get your epub to pass epubcheck and your home. My app helps to achieve that.

William,
I found some pitfalls in the epub-to-kindle conversion, they are detailed in the manual (in the first post; search for "EPUB" in that ebook).
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 6:48 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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Hi man2010...To be honest about it, I only use Scrivener to convert to epub because it seems to give the cleanest conversion with the least amount of problems. But I always use Sigil in the final stage to diagnose and correct errors if I have to. I never, as a general rule, ever convert directly to Kindle because there is usually always something that you need to correct after conversion. And this is the very reason I like Sigil -- its simply the best epub editor for the intermediate conversion stage for troubleshooting your ebook. All the other formats -- Word, PDF, RTF, Text etc bear little or no resemblance at all to the final Kindle format whereas epub format is a very close cousin to Kindle format. This means that you can get into the detail and actually see the reason for your problem using Sigil much more easily than with any of the other upload formats.

By the way, I would always advise that Scrivener is only good for conversion of reflowable ebooks only to epub. Since I only write fiction, an uncomplicated EPUB 2 format, Scrivener is all I need. Scrivener should not be used for EPUB 3 or Fixed layout etc. Jutoh is perhaps better for those. Avoid using Adobe InDesign unless you fully understand all its stupid and lingering still-unfixed problems (or you are a hopeless masochist).

I must also add that my last post was really all about rectifying problems efficiently and improving workflow speed. With Sigil you can really get into the detail, which enables you to see the problems clearly and fix them quickly. Although you criticize Sigil for its faults, have you seen what sort of epub conversion you get from OpenOffice using Write2Epub or any of the online epub converters. All terrible. Even though I like Calibre, this app is complicated to learn and can introduce particularly subtle errors into your epub that you do not want unless you are a Calibre expert. For instance Calibre, by default, will automatically format your book cover in SVG format unless you know what to tick in the Epub Output section. The SVG cover generated by Calibre will be displayed without a problem in KF8 and the more recent Kindles. But the svg book cover will not be displayed at all in the older mobi6 or mobi7 devices. You really have to know what you're doing with Calibre before you start using it for Kindle conversion. And Smashwords uses Calibre for automatic conversion to epub in its rule-ridden and deeply-troubled MeatGrinder conversion engine. No further comment necessary.

I've also been working with Sigil and epub format for so long I even completely understand all the weird epub error messages that can come from FlightCrew (which is now a python plugin for the more recent versions of Sigil) or IDPF EpubCheck. And In this respect, I would perhaps fully admit to being heavily biased towards using Sigil and epub format as, perhaps, the best intermediate stage and quickest, cheapest, surest way to resolve any problems in your ebook.

Lastly I must also mention that there seems to be far less rules necessary to convert to Kindle using epub format than using any other upload format like Word. Apart from Word format being bloat-software, bearing little resemblance to Kindle format, the rules and regs for Word upload to Kindle are strict, varied and many -- just like Smashword's MeatGrinder -- and totally bewildering for many ordinary people. But with an epub all you have to do is format the ebook the way you want it and just get it to pass EpubCheck. There are far less rules to formatting an epub for Kindle because the epub format is already very close to the propriatary Kindle format -- which is actually also derived from the epub standard package.
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 10:21 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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Hi man2010...I've just had a quick look at your book an I must say I think that it contains some good formatting advice and that's a great help to people.

But I'm afraid I completely disagree with your view about the pitfalls of using Sigil in the Sigil note that you can't ignore. Most of the Sigil pitfalls are all fairly trivial and can be resolved quite easily. And these are:

Amazon tests and fine-tunes its e-publishing tools for Microsoft Word documents and does little if any testing for non-Microsoft software.

I've already made the point above that the Kindle format is very closely related to the epub standard opf package format which is probably why with using epub there's little need for Kindle to 'tune' its epub conversion engine.

Spacing between lists and paragraphs and between headings and paragraphs may get screwed up and will require some recoding.

This is really quite trivial and can be easily solved by creating correct top or bottom spacing in the list styles or classes in the CSS. What's more, the same problem might arise in Word in which case you will also have to change the spacing via Word styles.

You need to delete the "text" item (start location) from the guide section of the OPF file, if there is any.

Absolute rubbish!! The simplest and easiest way to change or create the start read guide in Sigil is just to right click on your selected start-read header file in the Book Browser then select Add Sematics/Text and your done. You don'r have to touch the opf file. Same method to edit or change the TOC and Cover guides. All this takes is point and click -- no html is involved.

Sigil often converts the code of Unicode symbols into symbols themselves in UTF-8 files (when you import an HTML file into Sigil); later, when you try to convert such an EPUB file to Kindle, these symbols may get mangled.

Encoding has nothing to do with Sigil and everything to do with what encoding you used to actually create your file before conversion to epub. There are also well over 100 text encoding possibilities so its pretty unreasonable for you to blame Sigil using unicode/utf-8(a very common and widely used international format). Any text-based application will have trouble with weird encodings. This complaint is therefore completely irrelevant.

A multilevel NCX (EPUB table of contents) doesn't seem to work in the old Kindle Format 6, i.e., the old devices: Kindles 1, 2, and DX. Not all reading applications support a multilevel NCX either: Kindle for PC shows only the first level, and Kindle for Android supports only two levels. Thus, such an NCX file will have to be converted to single-level format.

The solution to this one is simple. Just create a flat TOC using just Level 1 Headers and it should work across all devices. If you require a multi-level TOC then you can create one in a couple of minutes in Sigil using just point and click. And if e-readers can't display multi-level tocs then is that the really the fault of Sigil or Epub format ? I've also just successfully created a doc TOC that is 6 levels deep which shows up correctly on Kindle Fire, e-inks and Kindle for PC. Generally the Nav TOC or e-reader TOC is always Level 1 although I do know a way of implementing a multi-level Nav TOC on Kindle using the Calibre TOC editor, Though why one would want to do this defeats me because the Nav TOC ends up looking a confused mess due to Nav TOC width restrictions.

You need to generate an HTML table of contents using the menu "Tools" in Sigil, otherwise your Kindle book won't have an active "Go to: Table of Contents" function.

Where's the problem? In Word you will also have to create and deploy a Header 1 style for your headers first in order to create a TOC. And if you have Word on a Mac you might well have to create your TOC manually using bookmarks/hyperlinks. In Word you will also have to put all guides into your doc manually using Bookmarks. In Sigil it will take you exactly two mouse clicks per guide to implement them in your epub. And in Sigil, creating a TOC is all point and click. So not a problem.

Sigil generates an HTML table of contents that is single-spaced and inconvenient on smartphones. You need to insert extra spacing by hand to make this table of contents usable.

This is very trivial. Just change the margin top or bottom spacing for the TOC item style in the CSS. Even in Word you might have to change the TOC item spacing if you don't like it. Trivial and irrelevant.

If the EPUB file was not created in the latest versions of Sigil, then there is a good chance that the cover image will be duplicated after conversion to Kindle.

That's like saying that if you were using Word 97 then you might have to upgrade to a more recent version of Word to upload your doc successfully to Kindle. Again, irrelevant.

Insert this definition into the CSS of your EPUB file:  a {color: blue;}  otherwise all links will have an orange color in Kindle for PC after conversion to Kindle.

What's wrong with orange colored links? I like orange. Trivial.

During validation of the EPUB file, the Sigil route will force you to fix various "problems" in HTML code that will not cause any trouble in the Kindle format. One example of these nonissues: formatting tags inside block quotes. If you are going to sell exclusively through Amazon.com (a good idea for most self-publishers), then you will waste time and energy on EPUB validation. On the positive side, Sigil wraps free-floating anchors and free-floating line break tags into empty paragraph tags, thereby solving a ton of epubcheck problems, but creating some problems with spacing, as mentioned above.

Ah yes, but if you are not using Kindle Select and you are also uploading your epub to pure epub vendors like iBookStore or B & N then any failure of the IDPF EpubCheck will stop your epub being uploaded to these other vendors. In which case you must fix every IDPF error, however trivial. So it really depends on where you want to sell your ebook doesn't it?.

Do not upload an EPUB file to KDP for conversion because you will get a wrong file size and may have problems with pricing. Instead, convert an EPUB file using KindleGen with the parameter  -dont_append_source  as described in the chapter "Building a .mobi file" (use the EPUB file instead of the OPF file in the code).

The best route is really a compromise. Work on your ebook in epub format within Sigil and when you're happy with it then just convert to Kindle using Kindlegen and when you're done testing simply upload your Kindle in mobi format. The Kindle conversion engine will rip out any unnecessary formatting by default and will format and add AZW(kf8) + AZK(iOS) + Look Inside versions of your ebook. Most serious file sizing problems during the Kindle upload arise due to 1) A large number of book images not being sufficiently compressed 2) Using a 16 bit image format instead of an 8 bit color or b&w format or 3) Incorrect image sizing or resolution.
man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 11:19 AM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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Hey William,
Thanks for the detailed reply. Now I see where you are coming from. I agree with you that Sigil is the best epub editor. I must say that aside from HTML and EPUB, Amazon tailored its epublishing tools to Microsoft Word. Word-generated HTML ("web page, filtered") gets special treatment from KindleGen and KDP converter. For example, multiple spaces are ignored in regular HTML documents during conversion to Kindle, but are preserved if you are converting Word-generated HTML. If the Word file is formatted properly (you are right there are many rules), then you will get fairly good formatting in the resulting Kindle ebook. The same cannot be said about WordPerfect or OpenOffice; whatever you do, the HTML generated by these word processors will yield many problems in the Kindle format. Most problems with OpenOffice (and LibreOffice) can be solved if you use Alkinea's software for conversion to the Kindle format.

Aside from the officially recommended conversion via the Word-generated HTML, the KDP converter also accepts Word files (.doc and .docx) directly. This feature has not been tested thoroughly by Amazon and yields the results that are different from what you get with Word-generated HTML. Amazon occasionally, perhaps, once a month adds an NCX feature to this process (direct Word-to-Kindle), thus causing a lot of confusion among self-publishers who then assume that Word allows you to add NCX if you press the right buttons. These people then waste days and weeks trying to figure out how to add NCX in Word because most of the time, the KDP converter does not add NCX during Word-to-Kindle conversion.

Anyway, good luck on your conversion tool, I hope it takes off.
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 4:25 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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Hi man2010...I certainly would agree with all you have said in you last post. I was also unaware that saving as HTML Filtered preserved blank lines. This leads me to further believe that perhaps the formatting differences between formatting HTML to Kindle and docx to Kindle are different in some major ways. This is poor upload management by their upload engines on the part of Kindle because these two upload formats should be exactly equivalent, consistent and in step as regards format requirements and output. All the points you make are valid, but I think Hitch has it exactly right. If indie authors do not seriously take time out to thoroughly learn all about how to implement Word styles and if they just don't bother to thoroughly learn the Kindle formatting rules for Word upload, then their ebook is dead in the water. The lesson here being that even after you've written a bestseller ebook, your learning and tasks are still incomplete for a proper and successful upload. The majority of indie authors who post here suffer from one or more of the tendencies described. They seem to be especially clueless about how to actually use Word properly to make their formatting and upload tasks easier. You can lead a horse to water but you sure as hell can't force that nag to have a bath can you?

I also recently had a lady one this site who had no knowledge of Word Styles. So I described how to use paragraph and character styles in a fairly long post with further links to websites. She thanked me for the post and said that she still didn't understand and could I please describe it again. Exasperated, I didn't fulfill her wish but instead posted a simple and instructional youtube video on how to do Word styles. She posted back and thanked me again and, once again, stated that she didn't understand. My view was she didn't understand because she made absolutely no effort to understand. How difficult would it be for her to actually follow along using Word while she was watching that video?

The continual changes you describe for Word upload to Kindle would also seem to interfere and only confuse people using the Word to Kindle route. And since the epub to Kindle route does not vary that much in terms of change or upgrades, this is also a more consistent and, perhaps, easier alternative upload route. Just convert your epub to Kindle using Kindlegen and use that for upload. I must also confess that I've been using just the epub route for some number of years so my Word to Kindle knowledge is probably a little scratchy and isn't up to Hitch's or NotJohn's or your standard. But I can still remember most of the Kindle requirements for Kindle Word upload(going back a few years now) and I've been using Word for about 22 years, so I'm fairly well acquainted with styles.
man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 4:38 PM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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William,
Please note that the side note you are referring to is talking about the EPUB to Kindle conversion in general and mentions Sigil occasionally. In some cases, I am praising not criticizing Sigil, as in the point about duplication of the cover. I am not saying that all these are insurmountable problems, but one has to be aware of all these numerous small pitfalls when converting an EPUB to Kindle.

Sigil often converts the code of Unicode symbols into symbols themselves in UTF-8 files (when you import an HTML file into Sigil); later, when you try to convert such an EPUB file to Kindle, these symbols may get mangled.
Encoding has nothing to do with Sigil and everything to do with what encoding you used to actually create your file before conversion to epub. There are also well over 100 text encoding possibilities so its pretty unreasonable for you to blame Sigil using unicode/utf-8(a very common and widely used international format). Any text-based application will have trouble with weird encodings. This complaint is therefore completely irrelevant.

I am afraid that I disagree here. If you edit an HTML file in Notepad++, it will not convert the code of Unicode symbols into symbols themselves. It beats me why Sigil does this unnecessary task (without asking). This behavior can cause problems in rare cases. A while back, some poster here reported that his/her music score software outputs an EPUB file that he/she wanted to edit (some modifications in the NCX). The rare unicode symbols (musical symbols) converted OK into Kindle when this poster converted the EPUB file directly in KindleGen. However, if this person imported the EPUB into Sigil and then tried to convert the modified file to Kindle, all musical symbols became corrupted.
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 5:44 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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Hi man2010...As regards encoding and as someone who has written a text to epub conversion program, I do know the problems that weird and little used encodings can cause. I had to use some software tap-dancing to accomodate all commonly used encodings -- believe me when I say that it is completely unreasonable and well nigh impossible to accomodate all the well over 100 encodings that are already in existence. I had to put various checks and encoding changes in to my software to make my line cleanup work.

At a deeper level, encoding problems are not caused by Sigil but are caused by Microsoft's many and varied proprietary encoding formats. Just open Word and choose encoding save options in Word and you will see the ridiculous number of encodings that are possible(all the ones beginning with cp- are off-the-wall, proprietary Microsoft encodings). Sigil uses the now standard utf-8 encoding which will accommodate ASCII, cp1252(MS), cp847(MS) and latin-1 which are perhaps the commonest encodings used.

So when you blame Sigil, you are wrong because your perspective is all wrong. Sigil is a cross platform app which means that it has to accommodate all the ridiculous number of proprietary text encodings used by the Microsoft and iOS platforms. So the real problem here is that there is no single and consistent cross-platform text encoding standard across all proprietary op systems. Microsoft isn't interested and neither is iOS. Why? Because using their proprietary encodings forces you to use their software application products, op system and hardware. But this business profit strategy also makes it very difficult for cross-platform apps like Sigil to accommodate the more than 100 proprietary encodings out there. A ridiculous and unnecessary number, I think you must agree. So the best that any cross platform app can do is to accommodate all the most commonly used encodings. That's why your assumption that these encoding problems are all the fault of Sigil's inappropriate software is way off-base and completely unreasonable. Any cross platform text app will suffer from this same problem. Even Notepad++ -- your favourite app -- only accommodates 6 out of over 100 encodings out there. You can check this easily by clicking the Encodings tab on Notepad++. Notepad++ is also a cross platform text app like Sigil. So if you insist on blaming Sigil for inappropriate encoding coverage then Notepad++ -- your favourite app -- must also suffer from that same complaint.

Just to put it into a proper perspective, the mistake you made was to just assume that Notepad++ would accommodate and display all text encodings perfectly. You now know that this is very far from the truth. So if you look at any text in Notepad++ that was not ASCII, utf-8, utf-8 without BOM, utf--LE or utf-BE then you will stand a good chance of getting weird squiggles in your Notepad++ text display. So, in the end, your mistake was to assume that Notepad++'s encoding display was correct which, from all I have described, is far from the truth and a big mistake because of Notepad++'s similar lack of encoding coverage.

As for the problem of why does epub display musical symbols while the text displays perfectly when uploaded to Kindle is fairly easy to explain. In epub it must be appreciated that you aren't just using one format -- but two formats simultaneously --> text and XHTML. Sigil displays these text problems as card symbols or question marks because it uses its own encoding which is at the mercy of the proprietary operating system. These symbols are just character error markers and just meant to show you the text errors in the Sigil epub. But when you upload to Kindle -- which uses plain ASCII -- it then interprets and translates the epub to Kindle format. So a different engine interprets and translates the text into XHTML using a different encoding that can translate this epub into proper XHTML without encoding errors. The trick I use to avoid these problems is to deliberately convert the HTML file(before conversion to epub) to utf-8 or ASCII. You can do this on Notepad Save or using Notepad++ and the Encodings tab and save. Then convert you ASCII or utf-8 HTML file to epub. This normally solves that Sigil symbol problem.
man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 7:08 PM   in response to: William Thompson in response to: William Thompson
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Hiya,
perhaps I did not formulate my complaint clearly. Here goes:

Let's say your HTML file contains this line of code: ⌘ Hello →

After you edit this file in Notepad++ (some other lines of code) and save the file, this line of code will stay the same: ⌘ Hello →

In contrast, if you import this HTML file into Sigil, and then save the EPUB file, this line of code will get converted to: ⌘ Hello →

Thus, Sigil created a possible problem with encoding.
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 7, 2016 8:02 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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⌘ is the place of interest marker and → is the right pointer. Both of these encodings appear to be in Unicode format.

The reason Notepad++ cannot decode them is because it can't handle Unicode encoding. It can only handle ASCII, utf-8, utf-8 with BOM, LE and BE. Same for Sigil.

In other words, the HTML file you are looking at with Notepad++ was originally generated by another application where it appears to have been formatted and saved as Unicode. Try saving the HTML file in UTF-8 or ASCII format if you can and try again.

"Thus, Sigil created a possible problem with encoding." -- Wow....After all that effort, explanation and proof you're still blaming Sigil ??

If you want to apportion blame then blame the idiot that saved the HTML file as Unicode. That person should've known better.

You're just not getting it and I doubt you ever will. Sorry, but I am unwilling to explain it all again.

This is also my last post on the subject.
Notjohn

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 8, 2016 2:52 AM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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It beats me why Sigil does this unnecessary task

Why not ask the authors/maintainers? They are active every day on the Sigil forum on MobileRead dot com. http://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=203

I'd like to see your experience added to the interesting mix over there.

Good luck! -- NJ

The book: Notjohn's Guide to Kindle Publishing 2016

The blog: Notjohn's KDP Guide
man2010

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 8, 2016 3:26 PM   in response to: Notjohn in response to: Notjohn
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Good idea, Notjohn, thanks. I will get to it next week.
Jennifer Spencer

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 23, 2016 6:30 PM   in response to: man2010 in response to: man2010
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I'm having trouble with the Table of Contents. I wrote the book in Word and followed KDP directions for TOC and saving as .htm
Then I'm using the Kindlegen previewer to see if it works. But the .mobi that is generated has a flaw. When I open it in the Kindle previewer, the "Table of Contents" is grayed out in the "Go To" menu. The TOC is in the book, and the links work, but you can't "go to" it using the menu. Any help?
William Thompson

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Re: Formatting an ebook properly in Word or in WordPerfect, OpenOffice or HTML
Posted: Jan 23, 2016 8:50 PM   in response to: Jennifer Spencer in response to: Jennifer Spencer
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Hi Jennifer...The Kindle Go To menu is not automatically set with any TOC location data when you convert from Word to Kindle. So its not a Kindle flaw and you will have to do setup this data yourself in Word by creating a specific bookmark.

It's quite simple to set the TOC location in the Go To Guide on Kindle:

*In your Word doc, go to your TOC page and select or highlight your Table of Contents main heading.

*Then select the Insert menu tab-->Bookmark in Word. Create a bookmark called "toc" and then click save. This will add an HTML id or anchor to your selected TOC heading. And when you convert, Kindle will recognize the "toc " id and automatically assigns that bookmark location as the TOC location in the Go To Guides menu on the Kindle reader.

*Now convert your Word doc to Kindle again using KP or Kindlegen and, if you've done it properly, you will see that the TOC location is now up and working in the Kindle Go to Guide menu
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