Avoid This eBook Formatting Mistake!


The #1 formatting mistake we see authors making when they prepare their file for ePUB conversion is using the tab key or spacebar to indent paragraphs in a Word document. If you want your eBook to be 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.  This will make ePub conversion a snap!

-Chris R. at BookBaby

See more tips HERE.

BookBaby makes self-publishing easy: From book printing, eBooks, distribution, cover design, and now editing. Since 2011, we’ve helped thousands realize their publishing goals, backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. BookBaby creates and distributes your printed books and eBooks to the largest distribution network, including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers worldwide.


  1. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check my manuscript. I used a manuscript ‘template’ to write my non-fiction book for teens. I believe it’s all right but you never know.

  2. It’s been three years in the making of my book. I have completed the first of four in a series about WWll. I’m already half way into the second. I enjoy writing and if I don’t have to start a bucket list too soon, then I expect to complete ten books before then. I hope that the first book will bring in enough revenue to travel and research the other books. As in the music industry, people use styles of other performers. As an aspiring author, I consider Louis L’ Amour and Michael Chricton as my mentors. Both of these authors have proved to have done their homework and their writings are educational & definately entertaining. My research of different publishers has brought me back full circle to ‘Bookbaby’. They seem to be on the ball in this constantly changing new system of publishing. Demograhics baby, demographics, that’s the way to make the bucks. Many thanks to the Bookbaby comapany and I hope to have a long and prosperous relationship with these folks. Over and out– Pete aka Max Von Altis (pen name)

    • Peter, thanks. We’re here for ya. Also, once you’ve completed your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the series, you might consider giving the first one away for free. We’ve seen a few authors do this with great success. They get folks hooked on the first one and then they buy up the other ones in the series. But don’t do it until you’ve got at least one of those later ones to sell!

  3. Chris,

    Just out of curosity is it possible that the computer (in word) doesn’t always do what it is supposed to do? For example, after I had completed the manuscript I went back on every paragraph and used the paragraph automatic settings at .3 inches. It did look very nice but bookbaby told me I had flaws on the indenting! Also, should the word format be set by the author for a certain spacing between the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next one or is that something bookbaby does? (I usually use 1.5 spacing between sentences and no more than 3 spaces between chapters…is that ok? Is it better for the author to seek their own ISBN? Thanks.

    • When you are proofreading your document for formatting errors the first thing to do is go to the View Menu and turn on Reveal Formatting. It’s also a button on your tool bar — the one that looks like a backwards letter P. If you are working with Apple’s Pages word processor, the command is reveal invisibles. This will allow you to see exactly what you have done. Every little arrow? That’s a Tab. Every dot? That means you hit the spacebar. Also, paragraphs don’t just mean the body text of your book. If you have a chapter heading, that’s a paragraph. If you try to center that chapter heading with the spacebar or the tab key, that’s a problem.

      As for ISBNs, no need to go hunt for your own unless you plan on publishing a bunch of other people’s books too. Ours are great.

  4. Not sure if I can save this in any of my places of saving things. Right now I am going through much but want to be able to publish a book some day. Biggest problem for me at this time is finding a way to get it typed up. So far I have been using Word Perfect and have had problems when working on a combination editing and joining two parts that make a whole chapter. Took me eight hours of work and had trouble because problems with mistakes were more often and hurting the overall effort. No smoothness at all. I can work two and three hour shifts but not the longer stretch without the glitches I was getting. Is there any word processor out there that won’t botch a job of that sort as you work longer on it.? I don’t want to have to rename a work every time I work on it just to get it the way I want it. Two renaming times is fine but more – with me it would be necessary at this rate – is just not fun, useful, or helpful. I’m slow and careful when it comes to my writing. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter that is driving up a wall. Barbara

    • Have you tried Microsoft Word? That is what I use. It ain’t perfect. But at least I don’t want to break my computer.

    • Oh, one other thing: we cannot convert to ePUB from a WordPerfect doc. So you’ll have to get it into Word, .html, .rtf, or .txt first before uploading to BookBaby. One more reason to switch!

  5. This strikes me as rather problematic – not sure how many people use tab-indents overall, but I know I’ve done so for much of my work.

    Perhaps the tool could be patched at some date to recognize tab-indentation and act accordingly?

  6. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of submissions (in this case on disc) of files improperly formatted. I was laying out a school magazine for printing and I don’t think there was ONE submission where the writer hadn’t used the computer like a typewriter.

  7. As my husband and I work our books, we have started each movie review in a Word file. Then I load it all into InDesign for the formatting. We’ve done 4 physical books this way, but now we’re looking at taking part or all of them to produce in eBook format.

    For me to produce it all into Word and remove all of the formatting to start from scratch and put in the correct formatting, should I copy out of InDesign and place into a text editor and then paste into Word ? Or do you have a better suggestion ?

    Thanks in advance. I have just found you and am really enjoying the education. I appreciate all that you are doing for your fellow authors.

    • Susan, feel free to send us the InDesign files if you want us to make the ePub (39$ for the first 250 pp/.25/page after that.)

      OR – if you have inDesign 9 or higher you can export directly to ePub yourself.


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