Kindle Formatting – Keep It Simple!


One of the first things I learned when doing my research on producing content for the Kindle is that the best strategy is simplicity.

At 600×800 pixels, the Kindle 3 screen is not large, and its formatting engine is fairly simple.  You can forget all those fancy CSS tricks you’ve learned to make your web site beautiful.

In a way, though, I think this is good: the important thing is to focus on the content, and not get worried about the details of how it’s displayed.  If your writing is engaging, the page or screen fades away, leaving the reader directly connected with your words.

Consider also that the world of digital publishing is not static: once you publish your paperback, it’s out there and won’t change.  On the other hand, the Kindle allows the user to change:

  • The font size
  • The typeface
  • The line spacing
  • Words per line

And even the screen orientation – although I don’t know why you’d want to read with the screen held “sideways”.  Furthermore, the Kindle is just one of many ways that people can read Kindle content.  There are programs for Windows and Mac, and of course iOs (iPhone and iPad) and the collection of Android mobile devices.  These have a diverse range of screen capabilities, so something that might work perfectly on one would look ugly and out of place on another.

With LiberWriter, we do our best to encourage this: the toolbar includes just a few formatting tools, but even better, has a small button that lets you hide the toolbar completely, leaving you a mostly blank screen where you can simply concentrate on your writing.  In the end, compelling writing is what will make the difference with your work.  Formatting things nicely can be fun, but ultimately it’s a distraction from the process of taking the thoughts in your mind and organizing them into a written work.

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