Smashwords Formatting, Part 2

Creating Word Styles

***Part 1***Part 2***Part 3***Part 4***Part 5***

Smashwords’ Meatgrinder doesn’t recognize a lot of stuff that you may use in Word.  Do you center your chapter headings?  Your **** breaks?  They aren’t going to be centered when Meatgrinder gets through with it.  That baby just spits it right out all Left Justified and stuff.

For everything you need to do in your document, you have to create a corresponding style.  This is a bit time consuming, but you only have to do it ONCE and your styles will be there for one-click access for every formatting thereafter.  Spend some time creating them now, less work later…I think it’s a valid playtoy.

See that bar at the top of the screen, left hand side, that says “Normal”?  Click your little arrow to drop down the box.  At the end of the list of predetermined, Word-created styles, you’ll see “More”—click it.  It brings up a neat little box on the right-hand side of your screen where you can create your styles.

As you can see in the picture, I have 7 styles.

  • SWBookTitles
  • SWCentered
  • SWChapter
  • SWItalics
  • SWName
  • SWdedication

That’s it.  Just 7.  Now, let me show you what to do.

In your style box there is a button for “New Style” near the top.  When you click it, it brings up a new gray box where you’re going to build each style.

I’m only going to go in depth on one style, then give you a quick look at what you’ll do for the other six.


This will be the Title on the first page of your book.

In the Based On: box, choose “Heading 1”.

Make your font Times New Roman, Size 16, Click the “Bold” button, and Center your text (justification buttons are found under font box).

At the bottom left hand side of the Style box, you see “Format”—click it.  Go to “Font”.  Make sure you have the right specifications at the top, matching those mentioned above, and you will have to manually fix the “Complex Scripts” beneath to match.  Times New Roman, Bold, 16 pt.  Click Ok.

You’re back at your New Style screen.  Check the little box above your “Format” button that says “Add to Template”.  Click Ok.

Tada!  You have a new style.

Quick View of the other styles I use:


This will be your name on the title page.

  • Based on: Normal
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 14
  • Centered justification

Make your corresponding TNR and Size 14 changes under “Format:Font”.  Be sure to check your “Add to Template” box and click Ok.


This will be used to put italicized words and phrases in your book.  If you just use the Italics button up top, it won’t handle the Meatgrinder.

  • Based On: Normal
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 12
  • Click “Italics” box

Do your corresponding changes under “Format:Font”.  Check your “Add to Template” and click OK.


Duh.  Obviously.

  • Based on: Heading 1
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 16
  • Bold

My preference is Left Justification but you could very well Center it.

Make corresponding changes in “Format:Font”

Click “Add to Template” and OK


I use this for my section breaks (*****)

  • Based On: Normal
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 12
  • Centered

Make corresponding changes under “Format:Font”, check “Add to Template” and Click Ok.

(Alternatively, if you prefer scenebreaks that are blank space, set a new style similar to the SWItalics style, only DON’T set it to be italics, but add a 12pt “After” space in the Paragraph section.  Mine is titled SWScenebreak).


I use this in the back matter for promoting my other novels so the titles stand out.

  • Based on: Normal
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 14
  • Left Justification

Double check your correspondences in “Format:Font” and add the “Underline Style” ______.  Check “Add to Template” and click OK.


This is used to italicize and center your dedication at the beginning of your ebook.

  • Based On: Normal
  • Times New Roman
  • Size 12
  • Italics
  • Centered

Check corresponding “Format:Font” make sure they match. Don’t forget to “Add to Template” and Click OK.

There you have it.  All of your styles are ready to go.  Now that you know how to create styles, you can easily create any more that would be useful for your book.  Make one that is regular text but has underline to underline the titles of your books in your biography, etc.

Please proceed to Part 3; don’t forget any of your baggage and for the gods’ sake, pick up your trash.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them and I will attempt to respond promptly with either an answer or perfectly crafted bullsh**.  I’m not an expert!

If you’re looking for ebook formatting tips for files OTHER than those used at Smashwords, let me refer you to ebook god Guido Henkel and his nine part series on crafting the perfect ebook.

***Part 1***Part 2***Part 3***Part 4***Part 5***

12 thoughts on “Smashwords Formatting, Part 2”

  1. Loving this easy to follow process but I hit a snag in Part two. I pasted my file from JEdit back into word but when I click the arrow by normal in my toolbar I do not have the “more” option. Do you know of another way to get the Styles box to appear? Thank you!

    1. Hi Edie! Does this help?

      Go to Format > Styles and Formatting. On the right, you’ll see the the Styles and Formatting task pane.

      You might be working in a newer version of Word than I’m familiar with:) I just googled and got that, so I hope it helps!

  2. Hi, I just came across your formatting tips, two years later. Worked through the newest version of the Smashwords-styleguide but my ePub is still looking weird. What I couldn’t find information on is if the page needs to be formatted in some specific way – page size, margins, …?

    I exported an ePub file for my novel Hedge Games from Scrivener and it looks great. But Smashwords insists on a word-file for extended distribution, so I used the nuclear method in Pages (I’m on a Mac) and followed the Styleguide. The resulting ePub when exported from Pages to ePub format looks horrible – way too much text on the page. Weird?

    1. I’ve never used anything but Word to format for Smashwords. I’m not certain you can make a perfectly compatible formatted doc in Pages, which would explain it coming out messed up. I own and work off both a Mac and a PC, and I’ve found word docs I format using Word for Mac fail or give me errors a large majority of the time. I just think Smashwords system is set to work best with original Microsoft Windows Word.

      However, it’s not true you need a word doc for extended distribution. You can upload a fully formatted epub and that’s all that’s required to distribute your book to retailers. The only drawback to uploading an epub is that your book won’t convert to PDF or some of the other obscure formats the meatgrinder spits out for direct download on the Smashwords site. An epub will get you extended distribution, and if done correctly, looks way better anyway.:)

      1. I assume you’re referencing the epub on Smashword’s site, because the retailers have perfectly functional samples for potential readers. Smashwords is a distribution system. Most authors use it to reach distributors such as iTunes, the libraries, or other retailers we would otherwise not have access to. I personally don’t sell many books through Smashwords itself, and that’s not my goal. My goal is to sell through the major retailers. You pick your battles. A fully formed epub is my preference, so I’m not bothered by a missing sample on the aggregate’s website. Good information for someone who might want to know this, though!

  3. You say: “SWTitle
    This will be the Title on the first page of your book.
    In the Based On: box, choose “Heading 1”.”
    I tried this today, because the Hulu specs (for a book I was formatting for Hulu) demand Heading 1 for the title on the first page, and SW rejected the Word file. So I styled the title on the first page as Normal, centered, bold, like I usually do, and submitted it again and it went thru OK.

    1. Double check that your TOC formatted correctly. The heading style tells the meatgrinder how to create the toc. Without it, it won’t.

      I’m not sure why you would have any issues using the based on heading style, since that’s SW guidelines standard. But I’m also not familiar with a website for books called Hulu, so their guidelines may have differed from SW.

  4. Oh, shoot, I meant Lulu, sorry. (Watching too many movies.) Lulu’s specs are way different from SW’s. I always format the ToC for SW as normal – no headings – and it always works OK.
    From the SW Style Guide: “As you type out your ToC items, make sure your text is in the Normal paragraph style, just like the rest of your Smashwords document, or give it a custom style that either makes it flush left or centered. DO NOT create your ToC in Heading style.”
    Anyway, my point is that formatting the Title, on the first page as a Heading, seems to flummox the Meatgrinder and get your book rejected.

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ebook and Print-On-Demand Formatting + Proofreading


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