Author Topic: Formatting problems in published books in e-readers and 'Look Inside'  (Read 307 times)  

Offline Ru Pringle

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Has anyone else had really erratic  formatting problems publishing on Kindle - different between different e-readers and 'Look Inside' for example?

I'm tearing my hair out after more than a week struggling to publish a couple of books on KDP while grappling formatting issues.  :'( I'm publishing as Docx (stripped back to plain text before publishing to avoid formatting glitches, then published using the Kindle Create Word Plugin).

The KDP and Kindle Create viewers both show different results from each other - and also different results from the 'look inside' viewer. All of which are different to the results of the actual published MOBI download.

As a result I've had to rely on trial and error (and repeated updating of the published MSS as a result, which KDP staff must love me for!) to guesstimate what the size of published glyphs will be (available viewers give no indication), but the biggest problems are:
  • On one of the books, glyphs / icons are showing weirdly stretched (in different directions depending on the direction of the autorated screen).
    Both books are showing gigantic (full width) glyphs in the 'look inside' viewer (which looks seriously hideous and off-putting!), but not in any other viewers.

I've tried contacting KDP support, but they haven't been much help so far unfortunately. Another problem I've had is I updated the cover, but (I've checked on different browsers, devices etc. etc. and cleared all caches just to be sure) the updated hasn't happened on any of the Amazon websites yet after 5 days.

I had various other smaller formatting issues, (e.g. Kindle Create themes' drop caps strip out any space after the drop caps - meaning I had to manually re-insert one for it to show properly on viewers where drop caps are unsupported - unhelpfully, not including the Kindle Create viewer: the books were already published when I spotted this. Also, the drops cap feature doesn't seem able to handle inverted commas ...), but I think these are sorted now, although in viewers which don't support drop caps, the first letter is still in the same font as the title, which isn't ideal, but I can probably live with it.

Has anyone else experienced any of these issues, and does anyone have any advice on solving them? Trying to fix this as quickly as I can before KDP's introudctory marketing runs out ...

Thanks!  :)



Offline MarkdownFanatic

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Odd. Thought all the usual suspects would jump in and offer expert advice on Word and all that jazz...

Anyhoo, you can wait for that, or solve your formatting problems permanently. Up to you, of course -- I'm not selling anything ;-)

Format your book's text using Markdown (it's a small set of formatting codes, can be used in any text editor). You can learn Markdown hands-on in 15 minutes here (free) : https://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/dingus

... no dropcaps of such flimflam, but you can make your stuff look every bit as nice as half the top 100s in any category on 'Zon.

If you have to use glyphs and other funny stuff, use the html/unicodes for them -- don't use them "from your keyboard". Can't guarantee that "look-inside" won't mangle them anyway, but html/unicodes is the best shot you can give it. Plenty of unicode listings on the web, one example here : https://www.toptal.com/designers/htmlarrows/symbols/

... be sure to use the HTML CODE variant of the glyphs.

Format your book to from Markdown to EPUB using Calibre, test the EPUB using Epub Validator until it gives you a clean bill of health, and then upload the EPUB. Validator is online and free here : http://validator.idpf.org/

Using the above simple stuff will give you an EPUB that will go through KDP formatting like, well, you know like what, and will look the same in look-inside, Kindle books and EPUBs (and everything else you care to format it to via Calibre).
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 10:41:28 AM by MarkdownFanatic »

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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Upload plain Word documents (.docx) made using Styles. Don't bother with any of that other stuff. Glyphs and whatever made from a font will not convert properly, you have to use an image inserted into Word at the appropriate place. I don't know about the sizing, but someone else may know that. I quit trying to use anything fancy in ebooks a long time ago, it just wasn't worth the extra effort. Some people like to make "pretty" ebooks, but really, it isn't necessary.
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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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The Kindle Create word plugin is still a beta if I recall correctly. I tested it for a bit, then ditched it because it wasn't even close to being ready for prime-time.

If you're going to use Kindle Create, I'd recommend the standalone app for it.  While it's not quite a Scrivenor or Vellum, I think it makes MUCH better KDP-compatible files than the word plugin. 


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Offline notjohn

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Look Inside follows html rules for the most part, and any closed tag will remain open for the rest of the display or until another tag is encountered that over-rides it. In the Kindles and apps, any such tag will be closed at the end of the paragraph, a bit of politeness not available to those who write for the internet or on Look Inside. Like many others, i had to rebuild earlier books that were submitted as Word docs when Look Inside came to live with his circa 2010.

Word works until it doesn't, and then you have little or no recourse. It's always best to build your book using html and a good style sheet. (You can borrow mine by finding my blog, NotjohnKDP at blogspot.) I finish my books in Word, then I run that Word doc through Word2CleanHtml dot com online, open the resulting html file in Sigil, and tweak it there as needed. Takes some learning, but easiest in the long term. You can get the latest  version at https://github.com/Sigil-Ebook/Sigil/releases

I have never seen a validated epub look other than it should on Look Inside. Hitch at BookNook dot biz says she can spot a Word-generated Look Inside, as compared to a professional job, but I think my epubs look pretty much like all others. The only time I've ever encountered a problem was in a book using mug shots with text that flowed around them, a flourish not available in the early-model Kindles (Kindle 1, Kindle 2, some Kindle 3 Keyboards, and the DX, which was sold until fairly recently) and similarly not available in Look Inside.

If you have Look Inside problems, you probably also have KF7 or "mobi" problems in those early Kindles, of which millions are still around. They seem to be eternal, unlike the Apple products that are deliberately obsoleted after four or five years. (My iPhone 4 can't be updated to the latest OS.) Since you probably don't own one of these, take special care with the DX emulation in the downloaded Kindle Previewer.
Notjohn's Guide to E-Book & Print Formatting: http://viewbook.at/notjohn

The blog: http://notjohnkdp.blogspot.com