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Smashwords Style Guide

Smashwords Style Guide

4.1 27
by Mark Coker

The Smashwords Style Guide has helped thousands of authors produce and publish high-quality ebooks. This free guide offers simple step-by-step instructions to professionally create, format and publish an ebook. It's required reading for any author who wants to distribute their book via Smashwords to major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble,


The Smashwords Style Guide has helped thousands of authors produce and publish high-quality ebooks. This free guide offers simple step-by-step instructions to professionally create, format and publish an ebook. It's required reading for any author who wants to distribute their book via Smashwords to major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster and Kobo. Smashwords also distributes ebooks to public libraries via OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360.

The Smashwords Style Guide provides a great primer introduction on ebook publishing. Over 500,000 copies downloaded!

Updated September 24, 2014.



Welcome to Smashwords!Do-it-yourself, or hire help? Good formatting examplesWhat Smashwords publishes, what we don’t publishHow to distribute books with SmashwordsHow ebook formatting is different from print formattingIntroduction to Meatgrinder: How we convert your book into multiple ebook formatsUnderstanding the different ebook formatsThe beauty and utility of simplicityAutoVetter helps identify common formatting errorsYour required source file



• Pre-Prep*Making Word BehaveStep 1: Make a back upStep 2: Activate Word’s Show/HideStep 3: Turn off Word’s “AutoCorrect” and “AutoFormat” featuresStep 4: Turn off Track ChangesStep 5: The Nuclear MethodStep 6: Hug a loved one

• Formatting*Step 7: Managing and modifying paragraph styles, fontsStep 7a. How to choose the best paragraph separation method (first line indent or block?)Step 7b: How to implement your chosen paragraph separation methodStep 7b-a: How to define a proper first line indentStep 7b-b: How to define trailing “after” space for block paragraphsStep 7b-c: Special tips for poetry, cookbooks and learning materialsStep 7b-d: How to define proper line spacingStep 7b-e: Managing font colorStep 8: Check your normalized textStep 9: How to automate the removal of tabs and space bar spacesStep 10: Managing paragraph returnsStep 11: Managing external hyperlinksStep 12: Designating chapter breaks, page breaks, section breaksStep 13: Working with imagesStep 14: Text justificationStep 14a: Centering textStep 15: Managing font sizesStep 16: Style formatting, symbols and glyphsStep 17: Headers and footersStep 18: Margins, page sizes and indentsStep 19: Add the Heading style to your Chapter headers (optional)

• Building Navigation*Step 20: Building navigation into the manuscriptStep 20a: Creating the NCXStep 20b: Creating the linked Table of ContentsStep 20c: Advanced link building (Footnotes, Endnotes)Step 20d: Troubleshooting and testing

• Front Matter*Step 21: Front matterStep 21a: Blurbs (optional)Step 21b: Title and copyright page (required!)Step 21c: Add a Smashwords license statement below copyright page

• The End of Your Book*Step 22: The end of your book

• POST-FORMATTING*Step 23: Preparing your cover imageStep 24: Review requirements for Premium Catalog distribution

• Uploading Your Book to Smashwords*Step 25: How to upload your bookStep 26: How AutoVetter worksStep 27: After you publish – check your workStep 27a: Check for EPUBCHECK compliance (important!)Distributing Your Book with SmashwordsStep 28: How Smashwords distribution works

• How to Market Your Book*Step 29: Read the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book)Step 30: Read the Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best-practices of successful authors)Step 31: Watch our video workshops on YouTube

• Helpful Resources*Send FeedbackAbout the Author

APPENDIXKeyboard shortcuts

Product Details

Mark Coker
Publication date:
Smashwords Guides , #1
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

I'm Mark, founder of Smashwords. Our mission is simple: we want to create the world's single best ebook publishing and distribution platform for our indie authors, publishers, literary agents and retailers. I'm co-author with my wife of Boob Tube, a novel that explores the wild and wacky world of Hollywood celebrity. I also wrote the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book for free), the Smashwords Style Guide (how to format, produce and publish an ebook) and The 10-Minute PR Checklist (helps entrepreneurs and business managers think more strategically about public relations. It's not written for authors, though some authors find it valuable.). When I'm not writing or working on Smashwords, I enjoy gardening, traveling and hiking tall mountains, the tallest of which has been Mt. Kilimanjaro. Write me at first initial second initial at you know where dot com (though please direct all support inquires to the "comments/questions" link you'll find on any Smashwords page).

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Smashwords Style Guide 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
kitykity More than 1 year ago
I'm an aspiring author myself, and I was a bit intimidated about creating an eBook--would I get the formatting right so that it's easy to read? How do I separate chapters? Can I use links? Mark answers all of these questions and many more in a very down-to-earth, easy-to-read format. Mark, thank you for the easy read!
eB00k More than 1 year ago
This review is for revision 6.16.12 of "Smashwords Style Guide" as released through Barnes & Noble for the Nook. I appreciate the efforts that Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords and author of this book, has made to make ebook publishing accessible for self-publishers via a generic word processing program like Microsoft Word. The content of the book was very good regarding the steps necessary to create a Word document that is compatible with the author's Meatgrinder ebook converter (the program used by Smashwords to convert an author/publisher's Word file into the various ebook files used by the various e-reader platforms). Unfortunately, Mark's overall approach is flawed because it takes a hostile view of reflowable ebook graphic design that can be summarized as: don't attempt it. In fact, very little attempt seems to have been made with the graphic design of the text of this book. Its layout and general appearance is, in my opinion, very poor and serves as a bad example to a new self-publisher looking for guidance. Plus, most of the samples provided in the book exhibit equally poor layout. What the author seems _not_ to understand is that the reader of a reflowable ebook ONLY has control of overall or general settings. They can control the "tightness" (perimeter margin, line spacing), scale (font size), font (in some e-readers), orientation (portrait vs landscape), and color (background color, brightness). What seems to have been missed is that the author/publisher still holds the majority of the control of and responsibility for the graphic design of the text layout of the ebook. This is because they control nearly all of the relationships of the elements in the book to each other. If implemented correctly as proportionally scalable attributes (hint: use "em" units), a layout can be created that is both beautiful, easy-to-read, and these benefits can survive reflow across a wide range of e-reader display sizes and shapes. I'm not talking about trying to make an ebook look identical to a printed book—that would be an obvious mistake because the graphic design must fit the medium. But most ebook authors and publishers who follow the approach presented in this book will probably produce an inferior product. What "Smashwords Style Guide" does is instruct the author/publisher how to prepare a Microsoft Word file for conversion by Smashword's Meatgrinder ebook converter. As such, it focuses primarly on the technical aspects. Graphic design, layout, and typography are discouraged and omitted. An author/publisher may successfully convert their Word document into an ebook but it will probably look ugly and have poor readability unless it employs the most simple layout possible. I apologize if it appears that I'm singling out Mark here—I do not intend to. I'm just explaining why I believe this book misses some very important concepts. The truth is, most ebooks have been published with poor layouts and the fault lies with the author and/or publisher—not a distributor like Mark. In many cases—especially with unskilled and/or untrained self-publishers—it is simply a matter of the author/publisher doesn't know what they don't know. And that's where I believe Mark missed a huge opportunity to help educate them. We're still in the relative "early" days of ebook publishing and we lack easy-to-use wysiwyg tools that can produce professional-quality ready-to-publish output. My advice at this point in time is to stay away from the automated converters like Meatgrinder. If you want to produce a truly world-class reflowable ebook, you will need to move beyond a word processor program and learn the fundamentals of good layout, learn to program html, css and xml and produce your own ready-to-publish epub files. Once you do, it is easy to convert to other formats like mobi with professional quality. Finally, I would like to close with a comment about digital rights management (DRM). "Smashwords Style Guide" advocates the avoidance of DRM. It espouses the philosophy that an author's/publisher's greatest problem is obscurity—not piracy. While I agree with this in principal, I believe Mark's advice is shortsighted because it fails to consider the legal ramifications of not using DRM when it is available. If your work is stolen and you have not taken all reasonable measures to protect it (such as using DRM), then you may be very limited in the amount of damages you can be awarded if you win your case. The decision is yours but you should be aware that the advice in this book is incomplete.
shannabelle More than 1 year ago
What an amazing piece of literary heart! I am truely pleased to see someone go through such painstakingly monotonous procedures to ensure the quality of readable material available. I am so looking forward to having my chance at finishing my manuscript and applying Mr. Coker's expert advice to my masterpiece. I love the passion that exudes from this book, it is so apparent that Mr. Coker enjoy's writing and loves to see written word in its most perfect form. He allows an uneducated wannabe the chance to become an uneducated/educated someone. I appreciate the quality and dedication and will refer any and all of my fellow key tappers to his literary gold mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book! I'm working on a book, and this showed me how to format it so that it will be successful! Highly recommended!!!!
Awapara More than 1 year ago
This book offer easy to follow instructions. It is a must read! And it is free!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great guide for publishing with Smashwords.
sandystarr28 More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of Smashwords books, and am sometimes frustrated with the frequent spelling and grammatical errors. Besides being talented enough to actually write these books, these brave people have to jump through so many hoops to "rewrite" them in order to pass the electronics eyes of the software that makes a book digestible for so many e-formats. Even if I could write a book, I doubt I would ever be able to format it to these guidelines. Many thanks to the authors who do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book to help you write an e-book correctly, I will definitely use the info for my book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This helps a lot! ~LinaD14~
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I have often had to create materials or review materials and without a doubt this is one of the best. A few grammatic and spelling errors aside, very comprehensive, informative and worth reading, even on a handheld device.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read to publish on smashwords. It takes you step by step like an idiot's guide.
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HEP More than 1 year ago
Very good outline. However, two things immediately noticeable . There is no contact number for the company and e-mails are not responded to, as far as my experience goes. The link list... Does not seem to work at all. I have not had the opportunity to upload a manuscript, but am trusting the instructions are correct. Appears worth the effort.
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AbeReader More than 1 year ago
Maybe i will publish a book so i can be ebook famous! This is a awsome guide. Give it a 5 please!