Thrilling quiz, I know. But here’s the answer: they use the tab key or spacebar to indent paragraphs in a Word document.
You should NOT use the tab key or spacebar to indent paragraphs in your eBook manuscript doc.
The results won’t be entirely catastrophic– the world will keep spinning, but your eBook might come out on the other end looking like a mess.
To make your eBook as pretty as can be, AVOID the tab key and spacebar for paragraph indents. Instead, use the paragraphs settings in the formatting palette in Word to set indents to the first line of each paragraph. The ePUB conversion process will go smoothly and your readers will be happier, too.
How to automatically switch tab indents to proper eBook manuscript indents
What if you’ve already indented every single paragraph in your 400 page masterpiece by using the tab key? There is a quick solution for SOME folks (it depends on your version of Word). In some versions of Microsoft Word (I’ve heard that 2007 can be buggy in this regard), you can use the Find and Replace functions in the EDIT menu. Simply put “^t” in the Find field and nothing in the Replace field. Click Replace All.
Presto! You’ve erased all the tab indents– unless, as I mentioned above, you’ve got one of the “buggy” versions of Word. (Which is why it’s best to go back through your document and check your work manually).
Then, if you’d like to add proper indentations, go to the Format pulldown menu and click Paragraph. From there you can set the indentation for the first line of each paragraph. Apply that setting to the whole document, and get ready for another Presto! Reminder: you should always go back through your entire manuscript to check formatting before conversion, just to make sure it all looks good.
[Thanks to BookBaby author Shawn Bird for pointing out that simple trick.]