Prepare Kindle Format to Publish

This article gives you an overview of the entire Kindle publishing process and points you to the fastest, easiest route to a perfectly-formatted Kindle eBook.

That route is through the much maligned Microsoft Word.

That’s a positive statement I wouldn’t have made a few months ago.

Surely, I thought, something more sophisticated… PDF, or one of the desktop publishing programs would be better, so I spent a lot of time looking for that more sophisticated, better solution.

After much reading, researching, testing…and building of Kindle eBooks... I came to the firm conclusion that Microsoft Word is the best solution.

The reason is that the Kindle format uses only basic HTML code.

Anything more just goes to waste.

Some who know HTML well. format their eBooks in basic HTML and upload directly to the Amazon's Kindle publishing platform.

MS Word is better for the rest of us because it is so much easier to create a perfectly-formatted MS Word file than it is to write a perfect HTML file.

That is the key… a  perfectly-formatted MS Word file.

That is also the problem, because there is almost no such thing as a perfectly-formatted MS Word file.

Submit anything less to the Kindle,  and you will get a messy Kindle eBook, as frantic messages around the Internet will attest.

A perfectly-formatted MS Word file can be uploaded directly to the Amazon's Kindle publishing platform with perfectly formatted results.


This section previously read:
A perfectly-formatted MS Word file can be uploaded directly to the Amazon's Kindle publishing platform, but that is risky, as what looks perfect to you may not be perfect for the Kindle. A better solution is to let Mobipocket Creator build your Kindle format file,  so you can preview it on your own desktop. If your input file is perfect,  it takes only a few minutes longer to go through Mobipocket. If your input file is not perfect, going through Mobipocket can save days of  grief,  plus the pain and embarrassment of seeing your poorly formatted eBook available for sale on Amazon.

It is now possible to upload your MS Word file directly to Kindle Direct Publishing, download a Sample to view and proofread... thereby avoiding the pain and embarrassment of seeing your poorly formatted eBook available for sale on Amazon, as described above.

The necessary steps to a perfectly-formatted MS Word file start with the link at the bottom of this article.

Some people claim that MS Word is inherently messy… that, straight out of the box, it contains errant codes that you should strip out.

While that MAY have been true with early versions of Word... and Word may still be messy, but I am now convinced that the Kindle software knows how to ignore any errant codes.

However it is true, that, as a file is edited and re-edited, cut and pasted, converted, and backed up and saved here and there… it picks up garbage… and that does need to be cleaned out.

The first step, then, is to make sure your MS Word file is clean before you even think of converting it to Kindle.


  1. I've used your tutuorial to publish a book on Amazon for Kindle and want to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH! It is called "Rent A Muse". I'm working on a new project and am having difficulty getting my chapter headings to stay in the middle of the page. I use the centering icon and can't see any formatting characters that would do this. Sometimes I find a heading in the middle but most are left justified. Any suggestions? Thanking you in advance.

  2. Mitch,

    A common "feature" of "re-flowable" text is that the chapter headings seem to move back and forth when you flip back and forth among pages on the Kindle or previewers.

    Is that what is happening to you?

    I think that is why Mobipocket Creator tries to keep the chapter heading left justified, even if we try to make it centered.

    If you really must have centered headings, you might want to try Calibre. That's a free to download (donate ware) program you can find by just searching the name.

    I haven't written a tutorial on it, but it's pretty easy to use to use if your file is already formatted and ready to publish, as yours is.

    It has also been discussed in some comments on this website.

    1. Hey CJ,

      firstly love your site, it's easy to read and very helpful.

      Regarding this comment here:

      "A common "feature" of "re-flowable" text is that the chapter headings seem to move back and forth when you flip back and forth among pages on the Kindle or previewers.

      Is that what is happening to you?

      I think that is why Mobipocket Creator tries to keep the chapter heading left justified, even if we try to make it centered."

      I'm having some very tedious problems with my chapter headings. If I leave my Kindle app and bookmark the page, when I come back to the page, my chapter headings (which are centered and bold with Headings 1) become left justified and without bold.

      When I scroll back a page, the correct page is there in duplicate with the correct chapter heading format.

      This has been bugging me for months, and I have nuked my files to death, created many test files and used MobiPocket and Calibre, still the problem persists.

      I am using the Kindle app on my Nexus 7, and the KDP previewer also has the same issue.

      I explain it further here:

      Any help you can provide would be extremely welcome!!

      All the best,

    2. Matt,

      I haven't tested that particular "feature" is some time, and Amazon makes changes all the time, so we can hope they have fixed it by now.

      Give me a few days... I'll do some testing and see if I can find a solution.


    3. Matt,

      I did a test, and it looks like nothing has changed... the headings still move to the left as you flip back through the eBook.

      As you know, some people claim that putting the Heading tag in the paragraph just before the actual heading will solve the problem, but I have not found that to be reliable.

      For now, I'm sticking to my claim that it's better to left-align Headings... thereby avoiding the problem altogether.

      Remember... that's just one of the several compromises we make when we go from print to digital... .

    4. Hi Cj,

      firstly, thank you for the quick response! I really appreciate it.

      I'll keep my Chapter headings left-aligned for now, and will keep an eye out for a software update from Amazon.

      Thank you again,


  3. Hello Mitch,

    I was looking for more info on Kindle publishing when I ran across your neat little site. I don't really see any need to go further.

    Since it looks like you are nice enough to answer questions, maybe you would answer one of mine.

    I'm a little confused about Kindle Select/Not Select. Either way, about a previously published article... IF a piece is already published on a blog, then as I understand it, you can't publish to Kindle Select...or all of Kindle??

    But, suppose the article is removed from the blog, and *then* submitted as unique. Is this ok?

    And as I understand, it could be republished after 90 days to a blog or whatever.

    Hope this makes sense. I sure would appreciate your insight! I'm doing my research for my new site.


    1. Hi Norman,

      I'm sorry, I can't help a bit!

      I have all I can do, just trying to keep up the formatting and publishing side of things, so I don't know a thing about Select or any other marketing matters.

      But... thanks for THINKING I must know every thing! [smile]


  4. I recently read that Kindle 8 has now made formatting in Word 4 Windows much easier making the need to use mobi files unnecessary have you tried uploading a word document lately?

    In the Kindle Newsletter they mentioned that the new Kindle uploader now accepted bullet points and word tables quite easily without having to create pictures and images. I would be interested to know if you have tried the new Kindle 8 uploader.

    One of my students uploaded straight from word instead of using a mobi file and she said the formatting worked perfectly.

    I would be very interested in your thoughts on formatting and uploading straight from Word.

    Pam Brossman

    1. Hi Pam,

      Yes, it is now possible to upload a "perfectly-formatted MS Word file" directly to the Amazon KDP, with good results.

      That is now my most-recommended method, and it is, in fact, discussed in this very article (the one in which you posted your comment).

      That means you don't have to create a Mobi file yourself, but it doesn't mean that no Mobi file is used.

      The Amazon KDP creates the Mobi file on the way to the publishing process.

      You can and SHOULD download that Amazon KDP-created Mobi file and proofread and test it on your own physical Kindle before proceeding to the Publish step.

      That is explained here:

      Create Kindle eBook Sample

      Concerning Kindle Format 8... it shows great promise, but currently is mainly useful for fixed-format books, such as children's picture books and comic books.

      However... I did miss that Kindle Newsletter that mentioned bullet points and tables... would send me the link?

      I have not added Kindle Format 8 to my tutorials because I feel that it is -- currently -- useful to only a small percentage of readers.

      You can read more about it here:

      Create Kindle ebook with MS Word or work with HTML… which is best?

      Thanks much for checking in!

    2. Greetings,
      I was thrilled to come across the idea of just loading the Word file, but the spacing looked bad on the previewer, as though it was set at 1.5.

    3. Rebecca,

      Good for you for checking it!

      If it doesn't look good on the Kindle Previewer (the one you download to your computer), then there is probably some garbage stuck somewhere.

      Did you go through the entire clean-up process?

      I've never yet seen a Word file that didn't benefit from that clean-up... even those from expert Word users.

      I recommend that you make sure you've done all the steps... and try again.

      If you are afraid to try something... such as the CTRL-Q to reset all paragraphs, or the apply Normal to entire file... just make a copy of your file and work only on the test file.

      Both of those are likely to make dramatic changes for the better... but you may have to go back through to restore some formatting.

      By doing them on a test file you can decide whether they are worth the trouble.

      If no progress, ask again.

  5. Hi Dear CJ:

    Was able to previously publish to Kindle on a seriously old MAC with Word 2004 with your help. Thank you!

    I need to tweak the book and now have a new Mac running Word 2011. My original Word 2004 doc translates beautifully except the photos—they go really small.

    Can you please advise on where to fix them? Here's what I'm doing:

    • open Word 2004 doc through Word 2011 and save down to Word 2004 compatibility
    • Make text alts and save as html
    • Run html through Calibre and convert to Mobi
    • Run Mobi through Kindle Enhanced Previewer

    Again, just need to know where to fix pictures. They remain in correct position, just go mini.

    Thanks a bunch!


    1. Hi Catherine,

      I'm so glad it was useful!

      Amazon Kindle has made so many great updates that it is now much easier than what I may have described before.

      I don't have a MAC, but I think your best route would be to stay right there within Word 2011.

      Go to an image you want to "replace" and right click on it and "cut" it out, leaving your "properly formatted" tag in place.

      Then, from the Ribbon Menu, Choose:
      Insert | Picture

      Then go to the location of your good pictures and choose the one you want.

      It should just pop right into place with all the old measurements, etc, in place... with nothing new except the clean new image.

      (Don't try to copy and paste: that SEEMS TO WORK... but doesn't do it quite right.)

      Then, when all images are in place, just upload your MS Word 2011 file directly to Amazon KDP, as explained here:

      MS Word to Kindle Quick Look: Create Kindle eBook Sample

      I THINK that will work:

      If not, please ask again, and I'll try again.

      And... let me know if it DOES work... that's good to know, also.

  6. Hi CJ,

    This is an addendum to my earlier comment. Did further testing and here's what I found:

    • When I take my Word 2004 doc and open it in Word 2011, convert to html, run through Calibre to convert to Mobi and preview it in the Kindle Previewer on my desktop (without uploading through the Kindle web site), it looks PERFECT!

    • When I take the Word 2004 doc, open it in Word 2011, convert it to html (or leave as Word doc) and upload it to Kindle to convert, it goes goofy in the Kindle Previewer with what I described in my earlier comments to you.

    • Just tested again: Word 2004 opened in Word 2011, html, Calibre convert to Mobi, then upload to Kindle, FINE on Previewer. YAY!

    With the last one working, if it looks ok in Kindle and Kindle DX and in the basic previewer, is it safe to say it will be okay on everything else?

    Thank you so much,


    1. Catherine,

      I'm glad you are being so careful!

      Things happen and things change every day, so there is no absolute guarantee... but from your description, my best guess is that it will work fine.

      If not, it's fairly easy to fix and upload again.

      Let me know when the "Look Inside" is active, and I'll download the Sample and test it on my various (4) Kindles.

      Good Luck!

    2. Oh my gosh, CJ. THANK YOU! I hope to have everything finalized to upload next week. Happy Weekend!

      PS: Best to let you know when it's available through this comment section?

    3. Yes, please... that would be good.

    4. Hello CJ:

      Just went live. The book title is "Need It? Want It? Get It! Your How To Guide For Creating The Life You Deserve." Link:

      Thank you in advance. Heartfelt appreciation . . .


    5. Catherine,

      Your cover looks great on all my Kindles...

      And the text looks nice and even...

      BUT your Table of Contents is not active... at least not the Samples... and it is not linked to the "Go to" Table of Contents, (which allows the reader to jump to the Table of Contents from any where in the book).

      I can't see any pictures... apparently the Sample is not long enough.

      Did you use my tutorials to create your table of contents?

      If not, how did you do it?

      It is not a big deal to upload a fixed book.. you just upload it right on top of the old one... and it goes live in a short while, so don't worry about that.


      (Fellow Student of Unity)

  7. Hi CJ:

    Thanks so much for taking a look. I did use your tutorials for the first edition. I opened that Word 2004 doc in Word 2011 on my new Mac and copied it in.

    I will look again at your tutorials to fix this . . . hopefully it will go easily.

    Glad to know we share a like-minded thought "thread!."


  8. I'm having terrible problems previewing my book. It's OK if I just use the upload using Word, the simple Kindle way. But I've been told I must preview on Kindle Fire etc, which means using the uploaded previewer. My problem is converting the Word doc to html. Every site says 'save as web filtered' but Office/Word 2011 doesn't have this option and nothing seems to work. I am technophobic and going frilly round the edges trying to sort this out. I'm on a Mac, by the way. Also thank you for your hint about centering chapter headings, I will left justify mine now. Hope you can help.

    1. Clodagh,

      If "the simple Kindle way" works for your file, then you don't need to convert it to html.

      While that was once necessary, Amazon has improved the software to the point that Word directly to Amazon KDP is the best way.

      The only reason to convert to html would be if you wanted some exotic formatting that Word can't do.

      You should, however, download the MOBI file (that Amazon KDP offers you after it has converted your Word doc to MOBI) and preview it on a real Kindle, if possible, or on the desktop Kindle Previewer.

      The Kindle Previewer isn't perfect, but it will catch most errors, such as wrong fonts, missing pages, and uneven spacing.

  9. I am not getting it and I wonder if there is someone who you can pay to upload your book to Kindle?

  10. Billy,

    Do you mean you have your book ready for upload and the upload isn't working for some reason?

    If so there is probably some small thing that is causing the problem. If you will explain more fully, I'll try to walk you through it.

    Amazon doesn't let contractors upload your book for you, but it's easy enough if you get on the right track.

    If you have a problem with getting it formatted, ready to upload, I'd suggest that you contact Hitch at she can format it for you and get it ready to upload.... plus help you understand what you need to do next.