Friday, May 3, 2013

Using Google Docs to Prepare a Document for Kindle Part II

Earlier this week, we discussed setting up a document, setting the paragraph indentations and line spacings using Google docs. Now, let's talk about setting your font types, headings and creating a clickable table of contents.

Setting Font Styles

Setting a font style is not much different than doing so in MS-Word. You can simply highlight everything and click on the button that shows the current font. You do not have a lot of options to choose from, but that is actually good. Ereaders don't do well with fancy fonts. So just choose either Arial if you want San Serif or Times New Roman for serif.

Photo by Bglasgow
The technique of highlighting everything and setting the font works for the type of
font, but doesn't help a lot with size of fonts if you have several sizes. Also, it doesn't help if haven't begun typing yet. You can set all your font styles including those of headings and subheadings all at once using the style tool.

First, type three lines of text into your document. It doesn't matter what you type, but I like to type "Normal, Heading 1 and Heading 2."

Above the text box next to the current font style is a box that may read "normal" or "heading X" (X being a number). Highlight "Normal" and set the font style and size you want for the paragraph text of your book. For instance, Arial 12. Then click on the box and a dropdown menu appears. Hover your mouse over the right hand side of the menu next to the word "normal" and an arrow will appear. Click it. Then choose update normal text to match. Now, you have set the normal text to that style for the entire document. If you already have text in the document, even if it is not highlighted, all the normal paragraph text (anything that is not specifically styled as a heading) will change.

If you have a full paragraph of text, you can set up an automatic first line indent and line spacing as well. You can also add whether or not to add a space before or after each paragraph.

Now, do the same for Heading 1 and Heading 2. You can also add formatting such as boldfacing, underlining or italicizing.

One advantage of mastering the style tool is that it simplifies changes. If you get half way through writing or formatting your Kindle book and you decide you want the subheadings in each chapter to be italicized, but you don't want to go back and change the format on each one, you can change then all at once just by changing the styling on Heading 2 (or 3 if you formatted that far down). So you change the format on any subheading in the book, highlight it and click the style tool and change 20, 30 or 100 subheadings all at once.

Of course, the other important advantage of the style tool is in creating a clickable table of contents. We will talk about how to do that later this weekend.

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