Usually, most writer’s initial attempts to convert their finished Microsoft Word book into a supported Kindle HTML format almost never goes through without a hitch. Or rather, several dozen (extremely frustrating and stressful) hitches, mind you.
Because of this, we figured it would be an immensely useful idea to help everyone gain a more solid understanding regarding the basics of Microsoft Word to Kindle supported HTML conversion. And it’s exactly this solid foundation — in addition to some tips and tricks — to properly convert your finished Microsoft draft into supported Kindle HTML that we’ll be going about helping you achieve in this very post. So let’s jump right on into things, shall we?
>> The Basics
The basic Amazon Kindle book format is the most basic of HTML with a small amount of supporting Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) code. The converter that Amazon provides on their website supports a variety of different formats — most notably Microsoft Word/Doc formats — but usually ends up spitting out a “supported” conversion that’s absolutely riddled with formatting issues.
So what exactly can you do to help give yourself a better chance at converting your Word document into something that doesn’t resemble a tornado having gone through a word search?
>> Page Numbers & Needless Images/Captions
Page numbers and extraneous images (with or without captions — although captions certainly don’t help matters whatsoever) are arguably the biggest roadblock in the conversion process in regards to how clean the Kindle HTML format that’s spitted out is. These can be added to the post-HTML format quite easily (and even automatically) as well. In addition, you don’t need page numbers for Kindle books, so these can easily be removed.
>> The Web Page (Filtered) Format
Once you’ve removed any page numbers and needless images from your Word document draft, you’re going to want to go to File > Save As and save said document as a Web Page (Filtered) format instead of a .doc, .docx, .txt, etc. This will ultimately help to remove much of the Word-specific code that merely serves to just jumble and screw up the resulting converted HTML format.
If you happened to save your draft as a PDF then you can simply save it into a new HTML format in Adobe Acrobat Professional and other related programs.
>> HTML Resources
Thankfully for you (and all of us really) HTML is an extremely simple language — and is ultimately even more simple to quickly gain the gist of so you can clean up your converted HTML format. Arguably the best place to learn the basics of HTML before you get started on polishing up your newly formatted draft is the W3C tutorial (http://www.w3schools.com/html/).
While not entirely necessary, we definitely suggest learning how to clear out as much of the needless “bloat” code as you can in order to fix specific formatting errors more easily. Namely extra/needless <span> and <br> tags. The simpler HTML code you have for your Kindle book draft, the easier it’ll be to tweak and fix the aforementioned formatting problems more readily.
>> Help With Images
If there’s just no way around not including multiple images (regardless of whether or not they contain captions) into your Kindle book, one way to create a Mobipocket file and copy that to the device. While Mobipocket is no longer actively supported by Amazon, it is still an easy way to clean up your formatting and add in images. This can be accomplished quite easily via following these steps:
- Save and subsequently install Mobipocket Creator to your computer. You can download it here: http://www.mobipocket.com/en/downloadsoft/DownloadCreator.asp
2. Open the program.
3. Select “HTML Document” form the “Import from Existing File” option in the menu.
4. Browse to your recently converted HTML draft and click “Import”
5. Navigate to the new folder that was created in your My Documents/My Publication folder (this will be the exact same location as wherever your aforementioned HTML file was)
6. Copy any images that are in your book into this newly created folder.
7. In the Mobipocket Creator program, select “Build” from the menu and click the “Build” button.
8. Navigate back to the newly created folder and locate the new .opf and .prc files within it.
9. Hook up your Kindle to your computer.
10. Copy the .prc file into your documents folder and/or simply e-mail yourself the file to your kindle.com address in order to access it there.
As with everything else in regards to self-publishing your own Kindle book, this formatting process will get exponentially easier the more times you do it. We’ll also be providing more helpful formatting-specific articles to help you overcome any potential pitfalls in the future as well — so stay tuned!