This is an ongoing series about formatting for e-books. In past posts, I’ve touched on a variety of formatting issues for those who are willing to tackle the job. If you want a deeper understanding of formatting try Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide. The other post in the series are: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. Some of the details of this post assume you’ve read previous posts in the series which cover the use of Styles or the Show/Hide function.
There are a variety of different breaks in your manuscript that you can use – chapter, scene and page. However, if these are misapplied and not corrected they can cause problems in the appearance of an e-book file. These issues will reduce the quality of you finished work and affect reviews and sales.
An incorrect break causes gaps in the manuscript when it is viewed by a reading device. I’m sure you’ve run across e-books that contain a break in content or even the end of a chapter where there’s a blank page before a single line and then a new page to begin the chapter. Try not to use more than four paragraph returns. If you use page breaks defined from the Word tab on the ribbon menu: Insert => Page Break then not all these may be accepted or kept when submitting to Kindle or Amazon. This can cause some spacing issues.
Generally, when you submit an manuscript to either Kindle or Smashwords chapters will be detected. Also, e-readers tend to adjust the content based on user configurations so the design of the final output is intuitive when displayed by the e-reader. However, if you do want to use breaks for a chapter then create these as a Style with a page break from the previous page. These are generally accepted.
To correct other breaks in your manuscript such as those for scenes. Turn on the Show/Hide and check for excessive use of paragraph breaks as mentioned above. Try to minimize the number used and also put in dividing text such as hash-marks (ex: ####). Using the Show/Hide makes large, manual breaks obvious to find and correct.
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