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Formatting That Effing eBook

For self-publishing, there are a lot of unpleasant things, i.e. formatting things yourself. While I will admit that I hired someone to format the book for createspace, I did the format the eBook myself. Some charged from $100 to $200. Others won’t charge more than $40. With the BS I went through going it alone, I have to say $100 is too cheap. It took me 5 hours.

The original tutorial is here, and the videos here (1-3), but I felt he was a bit too wordy. So here is everything recapped KISS style. Some of this is copied directly from the tutorial website.

Save yourself 4 1/2 hours.


  • Download and install Notepad ++
  • MS word (I haven’t tested it with other programs)


  • turn off all tracking features in MS word

This is considered the ‘nuke’ method but don’t fear. You will copy everything to notepad, then back into a pre-prepped new ms word doc. We will preserve all italics, bolds, and underlines.

STEP 1: ( preserve your italics etc. or once we move it to notepad, it’ll be lost) Find & Replace

  • press Ctrl+H
  • in the FIND area simply click Ctrl+i (it will now search for all italicized set of words)
  • in the REPLACE area put: “QQQ^&QQQ”
  • Then replace (All)
  • Text: This text here. has become “QQQThis text here.QQQ”
  • do the same for bold, and underline:

Now your italics etc. are preserved.

STEP 2: (moving the info to notepad ++)

  • Open Notepad ++
  • Copy and paste everything into a new Notepad ++ document

STEP 3 (Stripping text of all bad characters, tabs, and formatting issues)

In Notepad++ (this is NOT windows Notepad)

  • Delete tabs with FIND: “\t” REPLACE: “” (nothing, leave this part blank) [for functionality of “\t” in Notepad++, click on Extended Search mode]
  • Delete spaces before and after each paragraph by using this command [in Notepad++ go to Edit->Blank Operations->Trim Leading and Trailing Spaces]
  • Find ” ” Replace ” ” [removes double spaces] find double spaces, replace with a single space.
  • Delete all blank lines – (Basic) Perform manually, (Advanced) Perform automatically FIND “\n\r” REPLACE “” [ensure Extended Search Mode selected]

Text which was:




The first time I met Donald, he was drowning. To this this day I still remember his guttural cries each time he sank and resurfaced.


“Hold on!” I shouted.

looks like, with no blank lines, no tabbed spaces, just bare:

The first time I met Donald, he was drowning. To this this day I still remember his guttural cries each time he sank and resurfaced.
“Hold on!” I shouted.

STEP 4 (Preparing your new word doc)

  • Open a new, empty document in Microsoft Word
    • Save as a Microsoft Word 97-2003 .doc file (not a .docx or .rtf file)
    • Click on the Windows tab in the Upper Left->Word Options->Proofing->Autocorrect Options
    • Under Autocorrect, de-select “Replace Text as You Type”
    • Under Autoformat as You Type, de-select everything except “Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes” and “Hyphens — with dash —”
    • Under Autoformat, de-select everything except “Straight Quotes with Smart Quotes” and “Hyphens — with dash —”
    • Hit Ok to close window
    • Look at Page Layout-> Margins and verify it is “Normal” Top: 1″, Bottom: 1″, Left: 1″, Right: 1″
    • Verify that your style is “Normal”
    • Verify you have no Header or Footer

STEP 5 (Returning text to MS word (the new doc))

Strip the doc of all foreign characters: (‘Naïve’ cannot be read. It must be changed to ‘naive’. Schӧn needs to go to ‘schoen’.)

  • In Notepad++
  • Find and Finds Special Characters (not including Curled Quotes and Em Dashes)
  1. FIND: [^<>A-Za-z0-9\.,'”?\\\^\|\-\[\]:!;()/$#@&%*_+{}=~\s…“”‘’–—]
  2. Replace manually
  • Copy and paste text from Notepad ++ into the new MS word file.

STEP 6: Restoring Italics, bolds, underlines

  • In the Replace window click on More and check Use Wildcards
  • FIND “(QQQ)(*)(QQQ)” REPLACE “\2” and Ctrl-I [in the Replace window it will say “Font: Italic” after pressing Ctrl-I]
  • FIND “(BBB)(*)(BBB)” REPLACE “\2” and Ctrl-B
  • FIND “(UUU)(*)(UUU)” REPLACE “\2” and Ctrl-U

STEP 7: Formatting and Styling your eBook

To adjust the Normal style to be First Line Indent for the body of your manuscript, perform the following steps:

Click on the little arrow below Change Styles to pull up the Styles Menu

  • Click on the down arrow next to Normal
  • Click Modify
  • Set the following
  • Font to Times New Roman
  • 12pt
  • Color to Automatic
  • Align Left (do not set to Justified, even though most E-readers look that way)
  • Click Format->Paragraph->Indents and Spacing
  • Set the following
  • Indentation Left:0″ Right: 0″
  • Special: First Line indent By 0.25″
  • Spacing: Before 0Pt After 0Pt
  • Line Spacing: Single At: (leave blank)
  • Click Ok

STEP 8: Repeat the steps above for various styles

  • Make  a style for ‘centered’, ‘blocks’ ‘Titles’ etc. etc. anything you need. then click on the text and select the style. DO NOT use the upper menu, ONLY use the styles defined in this way.

STEP 9: Things not to forget

  • Your title page needs to mention smashwords’s name. You can find an example on their website.  i.e. On the copyright page:
    • published by [Author’s name] at Smashwords
    • Smashword edition
  • If you are using smashwords, without these specific words, you will get an error.
  • Your cover image must be more than 1,400 pixels.

 STEP 10: Feel free to mess around with it, but ultimately, what you are looking to avoid is ANY blank lines, ANY tabs.

Please visit the website here, and the video tutorials here. For me, there was a lot of text that I did not need when formatting this.