Creating Kindle Docs

My fascination with the Kindle is two-fold. Yes, I love the reader itself because it’s just the right size and so easy to use, but it’s also the reader of choice for a growing number of people in my family. We have our own little community of Kindle users which continues to grow as older members upgrade and pass their old readers on to the younger crowd. Not only do we share books, but thanks to the Kindle Personal Document Service, I can create and share family stories quite easily.

No, you don’t need any special software to create a document to send to a Kindle device. All you need is an app that can save documents in Word format (.doc or .docx). Once your document is created and saved, send it on to the Kindle (or Kindles) of your choice and Amazon will convert your Word document into Kindle format before delivering it to the device(s). Here are some formatting tips to give you the best results possible:

  • Stick to one font throughout the document and use a standard font rather than a decorative one.
  • Take advantage of your word processor’s styles feature to format headings and paragraphs. Use the Normal style to define things like paragraph indention and space between paragraphs. Not familiar with styles? See the All About Styles fact sheet below.
  • To force a new page to begin at a specific point in the text, use the Insert > Page Break command.
  • Don’t use the Return key to add space within the document.
  • Using bold and italicized text is fine, but headers and footers, bullet points and fancy fonts won’t convert so leave them out.
  • You can include tables, if needed. Just remember that screen size is quite limiting and large tables will be difficult to read. Use the Insert > Table command to add you table to the document.
  • Take advantage of Word’s table of contents generator if your document is large enough to need one.
  • Images should be inserted using the Insert > Picture command to insert an image file. Don’t use copy/paste . Only use JPEG format for your images and insert them on a blank line using center alignment.
  • For e-Ink readers, generally an image sized at 600 x 800 pixels will fill the screen. Size limit for each image is 127KB.
  • It’s okay to use color images (not every Kindle is black and white) but e-Ink devices will display them in 16 shades of gray. My experience is that images with less contrast (like screen shots with lots of white background) look quite washed out on those screens.

You can distribute your document to your family using their Kindle’s email address. You will need to get that address from them and have them add your sending address as an authorized source for personal documents in their account. You can also send them the Word document and they can use the Send to Kindle app [Win & Mac – free] to send it to their device themselves.

What about those people who don’t have their own Kindle devices? There are free Kindle reading apps for desktops, iOS and Android devices, Windows Phone and Blackberries. If none of those works, there’s the Kindle Cloud Reader for browsers.

Creating content to read on a Kindle device is easy enough that it’s not only a great way to share your family history stories with your family, it’s also a convenient way to build your own research reference library on your own Kindle. Try it yourself and see!

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