I am lucky to have a CP who has coding experience with HTML and can transform a Word doc into MOBI and EPUB formats. It's a very detailed process. Takes confidence and patience to finish this endeavor. In August of this year you may have read about the formatting problems within a George R. R. Martin book where the header info appeared within the body of the text.
Remember the mistakes that could happen when auto replacing within Microsoft Word (MSWord)? Can is a verb, sure. But it's also the ending on pelican. Globally switching out all the can occurrences to cannot means pelican becomes pelicannot. Yeah. And even worse substitutions can be made. So things like that happen.
But the purpose of this post is to show how, even within the confines of MSWord, you can create a doc that holds up under MOBI and EPUB constructions. It won't be fancy with drop caps and embedded fleurons for time breaks, but it will not be flawed either.
It's called styles.
There is info on the Internet if you don't already have working knowledge of MSWord's styles.
Use them for your chapter headers, your front matter, your back matter, your subheads, any bolding or italicizing. But once you've seen a professional formatter, like my CP referenced above, deal with special features like italicizing, you may think twice about how many times you use that function.
In some cases it is content over presentation. But since Indie authors are coming under harsher reviews at times, it is best to have your form in good order too.
It's also called page setup.
We'll get into this in more detail in another post. But in general, don't use tabs within MSWord. Set up your ruler or your paragraphs for auto indent whether hanging or otherwise. Or use a table when needed.
It's further called previewing.
When you first upload to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and your other online venues, take the time to preview in each format offered, like the plain Kindle, then the Paperwhite, etc. I find that any wonky chapter breaks can be fixed with some time to play around with my Word doc. Then I keep uploading the new, improved version until they present properly.
So plan to have a few hours set aside when you upload if you are doing the plain-Jane formatting I speak of above.
Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor