Cleaning Out the Clutter

In a separate article, we talk about different ways to clean up a messy MS Word file, and the pros and cons of each method:

Cleaning an MS Word file: "Apply Normal” vs. “Clear All” vs. “Nuclear Option"

None of those will get rid of such things as extra spaces and extra paragraph returns, and extra tabs that we put in by hand to format our document… and it won’t get rid of stray spaces, periods, and commas, that we, or an editor, left in by accident.

We will have to go through and take out all that extra stuff the same way we put it in… by hand.

It will be easier if we can see what we are doing, so we will make the formatting marks visible, as explained below:

The Short-Cut Key for “Show All Formatting Marks is:


If that doesn’t work for you, or you want a full explanation, go here:

Now that we can see all those extra marks, we can go through and take out the extra format marks. To make this easier, set your screen view to Draft or Normal, depending on your version of Word. (Main Menu|View|Draft or Normal).

Now look closely at all those funny marks (formatting symbols) on your screen.

You will probably see a lot of extra paragraph returns, the symbol for which is [¶].

That’s what publishers call a “pilcrow”.

Here is a “pilcrow” enclosed within square brackets [¶]. 

Can you see a pilcrow on your MS Word Taskbar? That’s a switch to show or hide all these formatting marks. They still can cause problems, though, even if they are hidden from view.

For our Kindle format file, we want just one paragraph return at the end of every paragraph. Space between paragraphs should be added by the MS Word Style, not with the paragraph return.

At the very least, extra paragraph returns can make your Kindle format file look messy.

At worst, a lot of extra paragraph returns can confuse MS Word to the point that it blows up your file. (That’s for any MS Word file… it has nothing to do with the Kindle.)

It’s easy to see why we must get rid of extra paragraph returns.

Some other things are not as easy to see, but just as important.

A single space just before the beginning or end of a paragraph may not even be noticeable, but will result in those uneven first-line indents you hear people moaning about.

First line indents created with the space bar or with the tab key may be OK on your computer screen, but may not be consistent on the Kindle.

It’s better to get rid of them and add first line indents with your MS Word Style.

Random extra spaces, extra periods, or extra commas won’t blow up your file, but your Kindle text will be more beautiful if you delete them.

Here is a list of the most common offenders that you can delete with a simple search and replace.

In the list below, we will search and replace (The Word command is actually “Find and Replace”) and repeat until Word reports “0 found” or “none found”.

As an example, to get rid of extra paragraph returns, that would be:

Find All ^p^p
Replace with ^p

Then just repeat until Word returns "none" or "0" (zero)

The “Special Character” that allows you to search for a paragraph return is:
 ^p… that’s a caret (shifted 6 key) followed by a lower-case letter p. [^p]

And... that MUST be a lower-case letter p.

To find the “Special Character” that allows you to search for other items, do this:

Click CTRL-H
Click More at bottom of box
Click Special at bottom of box
Select the item you want from the “pick box”

Now, comes some human decision-making that we can’t leave to automatic Search and Replace.

I said before that you should never use manual formatting, but that isn’t true in the case of page breaks.

Sometimes you must use manual page breaks to get them right.

If yours are OK, just go to the next step… but if you have extra page breaks, resulting in blank pages, now is a good time to fix them.

The MS Word command “Clear Formatting”, which we used earlier, does not clear out “manual” page breaks, so we must take any extras out by hand.

To do that, search for Manual Page Breaks, then decide in each case if you really want a page break there, if not, leave “Replace with” blank and do a “Find Next”.

The Special Character for Manual Page Break is ^m.

So you would search for ^m, to check to see if those page breaks should be there or not… if not, just “find next” to go to the next page break.

It's also a good idea to look for "Section Breaks". They aren't needed in a Kindle file, and can cause problems. So, either delete them or replace them with page breaks, if needed.

The special code for "Section Break" is ^b (caret b).

Now, you are ready to get rid of problem-causing extra characters.

Here is a list of some of the most common offenders. 

Replace all 2 paragraphs with 1 paragraph
Repeat until Word reports "none" or 0 found”.

Continue in the same manner with “Find and Replace” each character until Word reports that it has found them all.

Replace All: two spaces one space
Replace All: space period with period
Replace All: space paragraph with paragraph
Replace All: paragraph space with paragraph
Replace All: three periods with elipisis
Replace All: two periods with one period
Replace All: all tabs with nothing
Replace All: two commas with one comma
Replace All: space comma with comma
Replace All: comma period with period

Then, when you think it’s clean, look at your document in MS Word’s [Reading Layout]… that’s a Menu choice under [View].

You will see your document much as it will look to the end user… complete with paragraph breaks and page breaks.

When you page through the entire document, you will likely find page breaks where none are needed, and other places where they are needed but missing, and likely a lot of places where paragraph breaks are needed or missing… those will all be more obvious in this view.

I like to look at my entire file with page size set at regular page size first, because it's faster to page through fewer pages; but then I change page size to 3.5" x 5.1 inches and set the margin to .25 all around. That gives the closest possible to the Kindle pages size, for the final view.

When your file looks good at this step, you are ready to Create a Sample Kindle file to get ready to publish your book...

Create Kindle eBook Sample


No comments:

Post a Comment