How to Avoid the Kindle Automatic First Line Indent

[Quick Answer:  Modify MS Word Normal Style to have a first line indent of 1 px.]

As we discussed in previous articles, the Kindle will impose a first line indent only on those paragraphs where the user has not specified a first line indent.

The answer for most of the people, most of the time. is to "Modify" the paragraph style for "Normal" style so that it has the correct first line indent.

That has two advantages:

Your paragraphs will  have the indents you want... not the indent assigned by the Kindle.


Anyone who reads and edits your file -- can now see first-line indents on the computer screen, so won't be adding the tabs and spaces that mess up the formatting.

But there is a little fly in that ointment.

Because Normal Style is the "parent" Style of other Styles in your file, that same first line indent that you (or the Kindle) assigned to Normal Style, will filter down to all other styles in your file.

For most files, that's perfectly okay... every paragraph has the same indent.

That's the reason that Kindle's imposed first line indent was probably the best idea for most of the people most of the time.

But, for a file with a lot of short lines and centered quotes or poems, that imposed first line indent may not be right.

If your file is like that, or you have other reasons for wanting to defeat that first line indent, here's how:

Modify Normal Style so that it behaves just as Microsoft designed it to behave:

That is... it has no first line indent, and imposes no first line indent on its "children styles".

To make the Kindle ignore Normal Style when it assigns its automatic first line indent, assign a value... any value.. to the Normal Style first line indent.

That value should be 1 px... not 0 px.   If we assign a zero indent,  MS Word thinks we made a mistake and changes it to 48 px.

To see how to do it, follow the steps in the previous article to display the Format Paragraph box.
Now, at the Special box at the center right, click the tiny down-arrow to display "First line":
Enter "1 px". to assign a value.

You might think that a value of zero would be right, but the MS software, user-friendly, as always, will think you made a mistake and change it to 48 px..

So, 1 px, while not quite zero, will do the trick, and is so small that it is not noticeable on the Kindle display.


You have disabled the Kindle's automatic first line indent from Normal Style, so it displays on the Kindle in block Style, just as Microsoft designed it.

You can now assign the indent you want to every paragraph in your file.

You "can" do that with the tab key and the space bar... but that will give inconsistent results.

A much better way is to set up "Body Text" Style to format every paragraph of  the body text in your file

How to Modify MS Word Body Text Style is next.


  1. Your articles have been really helpful, thank you. The problem I'm having is that the first paragraph of each chapter i want to be block, no indent. The rest of the book indents the way i set it but the first paragraph is sticking a small indent in there. I tried to update the settings for that paragraph to 1 but it didn't work. I don't code html so i'm not sure how to fix this :-/

  2. Dannika,

    hmmm... I don't know why it isn't working for you...

    Unless you are getting your decimal point in the wrong place... after the 1 (so you get a whole) instead of before (so you get a fraction).

    You are on the right track... just delete what you entered for "1 px" and try again... that would be the best idea.

  3. I had put .1 and made several attempts. I even tried creating a blank sheet with all the correct paragraph defaults and then attempting it but I'm not having any luck. The only thing that seemed to work was doing a CTRL return but I'm not comfortable with doing that as I don't know if that will create worse problems. So if i can't get it to work I may have to forego the block paragraph for each chapter. I feel like I've gotten the hang of everything else but everyone on the support boards pushes learning HTML. I really didn't want to spend half my day coding and potentially jacking up codes by deleting a bracket by accident.

    So to give you an idea of what it's doing i tried to recreate it here. Notice how the first paragraph i typed above has one indent. It just looks inconsistent. I don't know if loading to kindle in .doc form or .html form would make a difference in the end result

  4. .1 doesn't work. It must be .01


  5. I haven't checked it out, but I think that must depend on whether you are measuring inches or pixels.


  6. Thanks for the article on this subject. It works ... for the indents. But the paras now show on mobi at different text sizes, somehow, despite being the same point size! Gah.

  7. Nikki,

    I would BET that your file has been around a while and has been through lot of edits and changes, and, or... you created your file with a lot of copy and pasting from different sources.

    The only thing wrong with that method is that different fonts and other formatting from earlier versions may get "stuck" in the internal code of your new file.

    Sometimes it is necessary to select your entire file, then select "Clear All" from the MS Word styles box, then go back and put in the formatting you want.

    I think you will find all the tips you need if you look for the tutorials that start with "Clean up your MS Word file".

    Search for that, then just follow the tutorials to see what to do.

  8. Great site! Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Thanks in particular for your help on this question--it's been driving me completely nuts.

    Just a little tip for everyone. It is .01, not .1. You have to type it in--you can't scroll to it (at least on my version of Word). He's right--it does look fine this way.

    Kindle Fire reads the first lines fine without having to do this crap. Hopefully the older systems will soon fade away and that one will become the standard.

  9. By Golly, You are right, Rob!

    It works to over-ride the automatic first line indent, and doesn't make the far left margin look ragged as the larger indent does.

    I was laboring under the assumption that anything you enter by hand would be over-written by Word... but NO... that is not so!

    Thanks for prodding me to actually test it for myself!

  10. Richard D North writes:

    Thanks for the .01 tip, which I have used in the "No Spacing" style and which seems to work. (The result seems to convert well to Kindle Android and Kindle Touch.)

    It's odd of Word to put us through such a counter-intuitive quirk. Perhaps even odder of Kindle (in "Send to Kindle" and "email to personal documents" and - I seem to recall - Kindle Previewer) to insist on formatting the oddity. Calibre gets rid of it, which was great until I considered that the resulting Mobi file might yet produce problems when sent to Amazon for conversion for ebook publishing.

  11. Hi I was changing the little box next to the word left, however It seems it only works - for me - if you put you select 'first line' from the nearby drop down box and then type in your required indent in the box under 'by.'