Last Minute Formatting Tips Using Scrivener And Kindle Previewer

How to Compile a kindle ebook in scrivenerIn my last post I addressed how to make the most of Scrivener for your manuscript, and today I’ll explain the formatting that needs to go on in Scrivener so that the compile into a .mobi file is seamless.

Before we start, I should explain that a .mobi file is the file that is required for an upload into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The same type of formatting applies to .epub files as well though which are commonly used for the other outlets of ebooks. I will also mention tips referring to Kindle Previewer which is a free piece of software that you can download directly from Amazon. You can waste a large amount of time going backwards and forwards between Scrivener and Kindle Previewer checking that it looks right, so these few tips will save you hours. I found these out when I published a Christmas Book of short stories called The Christmas Number One, and in the Christmas spirit… it’s good to share.

Justify Margins

After you’ve finished writing your manuscript this is the first formatting step. I’m not sure why the compile doesn’t do this automatically because all books have justified margins. I’d wait until the end of writing to do this because the jiggling around of the text when writing in this format is off-putting. Highlight the entire manuscript and click the ‘Justify the Text’ button on the toolbar. Beautiful straight margins will adorn the flanks of your text and you will feel that you have brought order to the chaos of your world.

Manuscript Font

I change the font in the manuscript at the beginning of writing to Times New Roman, Regular, 18 for two reasons. Most eReaders can display Times New Roman so you don’t have to worry about your beautiful format being compromised, and secondly, I simply prefer to look at larger text on a page.

‘Compile’ Section

Within the ‘Compile’ settings you will need to change a number of things in order to have your .mobi file looking like it should.

Check the ‘As-Is’ Box

On the ‘Contents’ page you must put a tick in the ‘As-Is’ box for all of your text pages. You must do this to keep the justified margins included in the compile.

‘Pg Break Before’

If you have chapters, ensure that you tick ‘Pg Break Before’ on the folders in the manuscript otherwise you’ll have chapters starting straight after the previous one on the same page.

Format As…

I choose the ‘Times 12pt with Bold Folder Titles’ in the Format As… drop-down list at the top. But beware, when you select this it can change other settings that have been previously changed by you, so make sure you select it at the beginning.

Title Font

On the ‘Formatting’ page you can change the font of your titles. I prefer to have the chapter titles larger than the rest of the text, so in the ‘Section Layout’ half of the box you can click on the title, then the capital A button on the toolbar, and then increase the font size. (I use 18 for titles)

Title Padding

Again it’s personal preference, but I don’t like the Chapters starting at the very top of the page, so in the same section as the Title Font, you can increase ‘Page Padding’ which refers to the gap between the top of the page and the title. (I choose 2 lines)

Meta-Data Title

This caught me out when I was compiling and I managed to catch it with the next tip because it only shows up on certain devices. Once you have chosen “Compile for… Kindle eBook .mobi” at the bottom, a Meta-Data option appears on the left hand side. This holds the general data for your document. The title of my document in Scrivener was not the same as the title I wanted for the book, so I needed to change it here. This field appears as a header on every page of the new Kindle Fires so it needs to be right.

Kindle Previewer

This simply does as it says. You can view your document in the Kindle format before finalising your document. The beauty of this tool is that you are able to look at your book as if it were on all of the differing Kindle devices; straight Kindles, Fires, iOS’, etc. I advise that you methodically go through them all after compiling just to make sure that the changes look exactly how you wish them to be.


As a self-publisher you are in complete control of how your book appears. Quality is perceived by the look and feel of your book, the quality of your edit and the cover. If you don’t concentrate on these, and make sure that they’re the best they can be, then you are giving room to the traditionally published books to have an advantage. This stuff’s important.

I hope this has been of use to you. The next post will be on how to produce a front cover to KDP’s requirements.

May I wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas for 2012, thank you for sharing the journey with me, and I hope to grow both as a writer and a blogger in 2013.



13 responses to “Last Minute Formatting Tips Using Scrivener And Kindle Previewer

  1. Merry Christmas Mike, to you and all your family. I’ve just finished reading the first of your Christmas stories and it’s uncanny how it (almost) could mirror what’s actually happened this year! A lovely story, well written and engaging. Also it’s interesting reading the technical stuff in your blog even if it makes little sense to this average reader!
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again……CONGRATULATIONS! Keep it up!

  2. Mike, thanks very much for drawing my attention to the “Title Padding” option. Definitely something I have overlooked in my use of Scrivener. Tell me, have you tried Scrivener with GDrive yet?
    All the best in 2013.

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