The first step is to convert our document to HTML and do some basic cleaning on the code. As far as “confusing” goes, this part probably looks the scariest, but it’s not that bad. Just take it one step at a time.
Quotations and Apostrophes
Let’s get our quotation marks and apostrophes straightened out. Or, rather, curlied out. If you’ve come from a text editor, then you’ll notice some of your quotation marks are straight rather than curly.
Go to “Word Options,” click “Proofing,” and then click “AutoCorrect Options.” (If you’re not using Word 2007, there may be a slight variation in finding these menu items.) Under “AutoFormat,” make sure “Straight quotes with smart quotes” is checked.
- Do a Find and Replace operation.
- Put a ” in the “Find” line, and a ” in the Replace line. In the dialog box, they will both appear as straight quotes, but don’t worry.
- Click “Replace All,” and your entire document will be filled with curly quotes instead of straight quotes.
- Do a second Find and Replace operation.
- Put a ‘ in the “Find” line and a ‘ in the Replace line.
- Click “Replace All,” and your entire document will be filled with a curly apostrophe instead of a straight one.
When copy-editing, you should check to make sure your curly quotes are all going the right way. We can fix these things later, but it’s harder to see them.
Prepare to Find and Replace
At the beginning of your document, put a left curly quote, a right curly quote, left apostrophe, right apostrophe, and em dash. (Am I forgetting something?) Like this:
“ — ‘ ’ ”
And it wouldn’t hurt to do this one, too, just in case.
—“ (Only do this one if you never use this sequence. I never have this sequence, and if it’s there, then it was supposed to be —”. So below, when I put it in the Find and Replace, I’ll make it —”. Please don’t do this one if —“ would be correct in your document.)
Do not use two hyphens instead of an em dash, unless you’ve got it set up to auto-correct to an em dash, and you verify that it did become an em dash. Go to “Insert,” then “Symbol,” then “Special Characters,” and select the em dash. (I use the em dash so much, that I reassign the keystroke for the em dash to CTRL+M.)
Check how you handle ellipses. Did they automatically convert to a single characters, such as …, or did you put a space between each period, like this: . . . ? When you do the Find and Replace operation, you’ll need to know which to search for, and how you want it formatted in your final document.
One Last Thing
Check how you handle scene breaks within a chapter. Generally this is done with one extra, hard ENTER. Do you have a space in this line? Do you use three stars or some such thing? (***) We will need to find these scene breaks later, in order to format them, so it’s best to know what to search for.
Convert to HTML
While there are multiple ways to do this, I’m only going to show you the best and easiest way. The other methods require more intensive clean-up, and it’s just not worth it.
- Download and install Notepad++ for Windows, or Text Wrangler for Macs. You can use Notepad for Windows, but if you use Notepad, it can add whole hours to your work process later. DO NOT USE MICROSOFT WORD OR A WORD PROCESSOR.
- Get a free Gmail account.
- Email yourself the novel to the Gmail account.
- Go to that email, and under the attachment, click “View as HTML.”
- Once that page opens, right-click the page, and click “View Page Source.”
- Click in that page source, press CTRL+A, then CTRL+C.
- Click in Notepad++, then press CTRL+V.
- Click “Save As” in Notepad++, and make sure “Save as Type” is “All files.” Then save your document as “yournoveltitle.html”
Kindle accepts very limited HTML, and it does not accept the font tag, among other things. Probably, at the beginning of each paragraph, you’ll notice something like this:
<font size=”3″ face=”Courier”>
You’ll probably only have one or two of these, and the rest of the document will be the same. Do a find operation for what you have, make sure the replace field is empty (no space, even), and hit “Replace All.” Do the same thing for </font>.
If you have a lot of <p align=“center”> or <p align=“left”>, may as well replace those with <p>.
If you did not already fix the paragraphs, you might see some space after the <p> tag. We don’t want this space. It should be the <p> tag, and then your text. If there is space, highlight it, copy it, and then do a Find and Replace operation, replacing it with nothing, which effectively deletes it.
Now your document should just be your text, with only the following tags in it: <p> </p> <br>
Find and Replace
We need to do a number of Find and Replace operations to do some basic coding of our characters. We’ll take care of the design and format coding in the next few installments. You can use the little cheat sheet you made at the beginning of your document to highlight each character, copy it, and paste it in the Find box. Paste the following code in the Replace box, then hit Replace All.
|. . .||. . &.|
If you want the second version, but you used the first version in your document, you’ll have to Find the … and replace with . . &. .
There are other HTML Characters that might need coding, such as 1/2 and 1/4 and the like. Consult this guide to check if you have any other characters to convert.
The Next Installment
The next installment is the most fun, in my opinion: the design! Since we’re all creative types, this will probably be much easier than these. After deciding on the design, I will show you how to code your design, so you understand how it works. (We’ll also fix any lingering html issues at that time, too.)
Do you see any mistakes? Anything I missed in the clean-up process? Anything confusing? Anything I need to correct?