Using InDesign to Make Your Kindle Book

Yes, you can use MS Word to format your book for the Kindle version. No, I’m not going to go into it for a couple of reasons. First, I do not have MS Office on my computer. I use Open Office (, which is freeware and works basically like the previous versions of Word. Second, it struck me as a lot of hassel. Third, I have the all-powerful Adobe InDesign and I saw no reason to let it sit in the metaphorical dust of my computer when I could be keeping my skills sharp…and maybe learn a thing or two.

Before I get into the nitty-gritties of using InDesign, I will cover what I’ve learned of converting to Kindle.

  • There is no special formatting available. No all-caps, no small-caps, no drop-caps, nothing that would ooze dignity and style. You have two options available for font: Serif and Sanserif. Use Times New Roman for standard Serif font. Use Courier for Sanserif.
  • You can do pretty much whatever alignment you wish.
  • You have the following formatting options: bold, italics, regular, large, and, I believe, extra large.
  • You may not fake small caps by having everything in capital letters, then  having the initial letter a size or two smaller. It will not look right, if it has any effect at all.
  • You may insert images, preferably no larger than 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels long, though you cannot copy-paste. You should Insert>Image so the file itself is included and not an external link (which means nothing to Kindle).
  • ALL spaces must be explicitly formatted into the document. This means PAGE BREAKS after every Chapter, Title Page, or item which cannot flow onto its neighboring page. This also means FORCED LINE BREAKS when you want spaces between items (such as between the title and your name). As well, this means you must use FIRST LINE LEFT INDENTS in order to get consistent indents.
Now for actually putting your book in InDesign.
  1. Open InDesign. Open your document.
  2. I copy-pasted text, but I think there is a different manner to import Word text. I won’t go into it here. Anyway, I went chapter-by-chapter, selected the text and copied it (left click “copy” or CTRL-C).
  3. In InDesign, go to Layout>Add Page.
  4. In the toolbar on the left of the screen, use the tool that looks like a rectangle with an X in it to make a textbox. I like to make it the same size as the inside of the margins (the purple and pink box). Click on the box.
  5. Go to Edit>Paste or press CTRL-V. (CTRL-P is “print” not “paste”, and CTRL-X is “cut”, just so you know)
  6. Backspace until your content is at the top of the page, then add in white space using SHIFT+ENTER. Do this wherever you need white space. This is what I referred to as a FORCED LINE BREAK.  You could also go TYPE>INSERT BREAK CHARACTER to see a list of breaks available.
  7. Format your chapter heading bearing in mind Kindle’s restraints.
  8. Add more pages with more textboxes.
  9. Click on the page with all your content. In the bottom right corner there will be a plus sign. When you hoover over it, you will see that the text that did not fit on your page is still there. It is called OVERFLOW TEXT. This is fine.
  10. Click on the plus sign. Your cursor will now have a paragraph symbol attached to it.
  11. Click inside the next textbox. The overflow text will “spill” into this textbox.
  12. Scroll down to the right hand corner and repeat on the next page. Repeat until all your text is displayed.
  13. Select all your body text.
  15. A little dialogue box will open.
  16. Hoover over the symbols to read what they represent. Identify the ones that say, “First Line Left Indent” and “Space After” (or “Space Before”).
  17. Set “First Line Left Indent” to 36 pt for a standard tab. Set the “Space After” to 12 pt.
  18. Go to the end of your first chapter, and click after the last of the text.
  19. You can now either go to TYPE>INSERT BREAK CHARACTER and select “Page Break”, or you can hit SHIFT and the “Enter” on your number pad (called “Num Enter”).
  20. Rinse and repeat with the remaining chapters.
  21. For all title pages, ect, do what I told you about formatting the chapter headings. Use forced line breaks for spacing information, and always add a page break at the conclusion of the information on that page.
  22. For a Table of Contents, I must address that on another post, which I will link to in this post once I write it.
  23. Install the Amazon Plugin for InDesign (link below in “references”).
You will notice I did not address adding images. My bad. It is very similar to doing text. You make a box, click on the box, then go FILE>PLACE and select your image file. If it does not fit into the box, you may right click and play with the image settings until you are happy.
Till later,
  1. Kindle Direct Publishing Tools and Resources
  2. E-book (free)’s Publishing Guidelines for Kindle just look it up on Amazon’s site. Read it, it’s handy and more thorough about the overall publishing than I’ve indicated here…though I did tell you HOW to do stuff when the book just says to do it.

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