View Full Version : Smashwords formatting

02-01-2011, 08:30 AM
Hi all.

I published a short prequel on Smashwords tonight and modelled it pretty closely on the model example they give. It took three attempts to iron out stray tabs and spaces.

Does anyone have suggestions about the best formatting for a Smashwords ebook? My next effort will be much longer and not free so I want to get it right.

I have cover art and the text has been edited. I am just a bit hesitant to go with their suggestions to left justify and use the absolute minimum of formatting..... (alas, poor drop caps).

02-01-2011, 08:35 AM
I'm having some trouble with that, myself, even following their advice. I'll let you know what ends up working. (I'm on old MS Office 2004 for Mac, though.)

02-01-2011, 08:40 AM
My first mistake was trying to use Word2010, no go. The I just nuked all the formatting and it turned out okay I guess.

I am having trouble giving up the desire to control exactly how the page looks.

02-01-2011, 11:18 AM
Toss me an email and I'll send you one of my Smashwords formatted Word docs as a sample. I only have three styles in the document, one for headings, one for centred things (like scene breaks) and one for the body of the text. Very minimal formatting on all. Nothing set but font, point size, indentation and justification option, plus before and after spacing for the headings. And the headings are merely a little larger, small caps and bolded.

And I would definitely go with their suggestions. Remember some people are going to be reading these things on phone screens. And not necessarily iPhones. And all my ebook _reading_ experiences have involved strong impatience with any unnecessary formatting. Your readers will choose their own font, their text colour, the justification themselves. You could format as if it was going to be read on the iPad (ie. somewhere formatting might be appreciated), but phones apparently form a high percentage for e-readers and formatting which works for an iPad is going to look dreadful on a 2x2 inch screen.

Most of the Smashwords recommendations are very solid (though I didn't nuke and start from 'normal' because I know enough about my styles to be sure I didn't have anything 'bad' in there). I also recommend killing off all your curly quotes. Works fine for most things, but doesn't work for their plain text version. But then, plain text can't handle my surname either...

K. Taylor
02-01-2011, 01:44 PM
Yeah, my files are very plain - no tabs, TNR 12 point except for 14 point title, 1" margins, only titles are centered, and 1.5 spacing. Make sure you have a line entered between text and a page break so it doesn't run together in certain formats. I always make it in the Premium catalog without a problem and have never had a reader complain about formatting.

02-02-2011, 07:53 AM
My html, pdf, java and epub look good. The txt and rtf look terrible so I turned those options off. Funny thing is when I look at any of the free books there txt and rtfs looks terrible too? Is this a common problem?

02-02-2011, 08:28 AM
Smashwords' meatgrinder is aimed primarily toward the mobi and epub result, I think. I would format quite differently for a pure text document (double-returns for paragraphs, for a start).

02-04-2011, 10:19 PM
After following the Smashwords style guide, I add a few more tricks to get some better results. I add 3 spaces at the end of each line I am trying to get some spacing around (chapter headings, front material, etc.) and I add two spaces at the end of each paragraph. I also use page breaks between sections, but I can't remember if that is part of the style guide or not. I really only check the epub and mobi outputs though, as I really don't care how the text or html outputs turn out.

02-04-2011, 11:36 PM
My html, pdf, java and epub look good. The txt and rtf look terrible so I turned those options off. Funny thing is when I look at any of the free books there txt and rtfs looks terrible too? Is this a common problem?I think it is. As much as the style guide says that following it will get all formats passable, i really don't think their meatgrinder engine caters to rtf or txt. Though, the sample books they link to in the style guide (both of which i had real trouble downloading) are in rtf format. :Shrug:

02-05-2011, 06:37 AM
I don't they allow page breaks.

Erik M
02-05-2011, 07:36 AM
I put two shorts on Smashwords just to practice the formatting. I followed the formatting guide, step by step, and had no problems. Both of my stories were .doc.

02-05-2011, 07:51 AM
So your text and rtf looked good? Do you have a link? Becaiuse I followed the guide to and my txt lacked paragraphs breaks and my .rtf had format markers like the pilcrow showing.

K. Taylor
02-05-2011, 12:45 PM
Page breaks aren't a problem. You just need to hit enter between the last line and the break to have proper space left.