Conversion troubleshooting and FAQ

This page covers common issues when converting a Word document to ebook files on Pronoun. If you uploaded your own epub and mobi files, please see this article for information about errors.

General Questions

Design Issues

Formatting Issues

Upload Errors

______________________________________________________________________

Something in my book didn’t convert as expected.

After reviewing our manuscript guidelines, we suggest following these steps to double-check your formatting:

  1. Turn on non-printing characters in Microsoft Word to check paragraph breaks, page breaks, and other spacing elements
     
  2. Turn on Styles Guide/Inspector in Microsoft Word to check that headings (for part titles, chapter titles, and subtitles) are properly formatted
     
  3. Accept or remove all Track Changes in your manuscript, as they can interfere with our ability to detect your styling

When all else fails, deleting and re-typing content can help clear unwanted formatting. You can also try opening the manuscript in Google Docs and then saving/downloading it as a .docx file.

Some formatting issues might not be immediately obvious. For example, if you override Word’s default styling for headings, the heading won’t look like a heading in Word but will still convert as such in your book. Similarly, copied and pasted text can retain hidden formatting.

______________________________________________________________________

Why doesn’t my book look exactly like my manuscript?

Reflowable ebooks need to be properly formatted to meet industry standards, and as a result, they don’t look exactly like their original manuscripts. Instead, Pronoun formats and designs your ebook to look beautiful on every screen, for every reader.

Think of your manuscript as a recipe for our conversion tool to create and format your ebook. To give an example, underlined text in your manuscript won’t appear underlined in your ebook. Instead, that’s how our conversion tool recognizes block quotes.

Our conversion tool also designs your book’s interior. Pronoun offers a variety of professionally designed layouts for authors to choose from, each with a unique look and feel.

No matter which one you choose for your book, our conversion tool will style your chapter titles, subtitles, scene breaks, fonts, spacing, and more. As a result, there’s no need to “style” your manuscript yourself (such as change font styles and sizes, include headers or footers, etc.).

______________________________________________________________________

How do I edit my ebook files?

The first step is to edit your manuscript in Microsoft Word. Then, follow these steps to convert your revised docx to ebook files:

  1. Go to the book upload step on Pronoun
  2. Click Upload a new .docx or .epub file
  3. Upload your edited manuscript
  4. Click Create my book

Our conversion tool will create your new ebook files, which you can immediately download and open. Please feel free to upload and convert as many manuscripts as you like. 

______________________________________________________________________

I need more space between paragraphs/lines.

Type a line of nothing but two asterisks (**) in your docx, and it’ll convert as a blank line in your book. See our manuscript formatting guidelines for details.

______________________________________________________________________

Why doesn’t my book have page numbers?

Reflowable books don’t have “pages” in the traditional sense. They adapt to different screens, meaning they vary in length from retailer to retailer and device to device—they lack fixed page counts altogether.

As a result, we create a hyperlinked Table of Contents from the headings in your book so readers can tap a chapter title and instantly jump to that spot in your book. 

______________________________________________________________________

My book has duplicate front matter.

Pronoun automatically creates your book’s cover page, title page, copyright page (optional), and Table of Contents. We suggest deleting this front matter from your manuscript before creating your book to avoid duplicates.

If you would prefer to use your own copyright page, de-select “Include a copyright page” after uploading your docx.

______________________________________________________________________

The first few words of my chapter are/aren’t capitalized or indented.

Our layouts feature a first-paragraph design: the paragraph is un-indented and the first four or five words are capitalized. We don’t apply this design if the first paragraph of the chapter is shorter than 15 words.

Here are two examples of first paragraphs using the layout Shelley:

______________________________________________________________________

“We couldn’t find any chapter titles in your manuscript.”

Retailers require books to contain a complete Table of Contents linking to every chapter or section. To ensure that our conversion technology recognizes your chapter titles and includes them in your TOC, please do the following:

  1. Insert a page break before each chapter or section title (instructions)
  2. Format each chapter or section title as Heading 1 (instructions)

 

What if my book doesn’t have chapters?

For picture books, short stories, novellas, articles, and other works without chapters, we suggest adding a heading of your book title before your first paragraph and an “About the Author” page at the end. Then your TOC will have two chapters: “Your Book Title” and “About the Author.” (Sections like “Dedication,” “Acknowledgments,” “Note to Reader,” and “Other Books By” work too.)

For poetry and cookbooks, we suggest styling your poem/recipe titles as Heading 1. For plays, you can style the act and scene titles as headings.

 

I added page breaks and Heading 1 formatting, but my chapter titles aren’t being recognized.

Make sure your chapter titles aren’t formatted as a list. This sometimes happens automatically in Microsoft Word, or when you export your manuscript as a .docx file using another word processor.

Make sure your chapter titles are really formatted as Heading 1. In Microsoft Word, check your text styling by turning on Styles Guide/Inspector. If you use Pages, which has different default text styles than Word, you may need to rename the “Heading” style to “Heading 1.” (Select the style and click the arrow to rename it.)


Make sure you’re pressing ENTER (not SHIFT + ENTER) to insert a hard line break after your chapter title. To check that you used hard line breaks, turn on non-printing characters in Microsoft Word. Hard line breaks are represented by little pilcrows, and soft line breaks are represented by little arrows.

______________________________________________________________________

“Chapter titles styled as Heading 1 must be preceded by a page break.”

Most likely, there’s a page break missing before one of your Heading 1 chapter or section titles. We suggest turning on non-printing characters and Style Guides/Inspector in Microsoft Word to more easily see your page breaks and Heading 1 titles.

The issue might also be that you pressed ENTER to break a chapter title into two separate lines of Heading 1 text. (For example, “Chapter One” on one line and “The Adventure Begins” on the next line.) Our conversion tool thinks your chapter starts with two titles instead of one.

To fix this, we suggest putting your entire chapter title on the same line (e.g., “Chapter One: The Adventure Begins”). Or, you can format the first title as Heading 1 (“Chapter One”) and the second line as Heading 2, 3, or 4 (“The Adventure Begins”).

______________________________________________________________________

“Chapter titles cannot also be formatted as a list.”

Chapter titles won’t convert properly in your book if they’re formatted as a numbered or bulleted list, even when preceded by a page break and formatted as Heading 1 text.

How to remove list formatting using Microsoft Word:

  1. Open your manuscript in Microsoft Word
  2. Highlight the entire document
  3. Click Format > Bullets and Numbering
  4. Click None or Remove

How to remove list formatting using Google Docs:

  1. Open your manuscript in Google Docs
  2. Highlight the entire document
  3. Click the bulleted/numbered list icon
  4. Click the bulleted/numbered list icon a second time
  5. Click File > Download As > Microsoft Word (.docx)


What if I don’t see the list formatting?

Microsoft Word sometimes applies this list formatting automatically. The easiest way to see it is to highlight the chapter titles in your document. You should see the bulleted or numbered list icon selected in the toolbar.

If you’re using a program other than Word, such as LibreOffice, the list formatting might be automatically applied when you export the file as a docx. You might need to use another word processor, like Google Docs, to remove the list formatting.

______________________________________________________________________

Some retailers won’t sell books that mention or link to their competitors. Please make sure your book doesn’t contain:

  • Links to retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  • References to specific retailers (say “leave a review on your preferred store” instead of “leave a review on Amazon”)
  • Images that include specific retailer logos or names

You can link to your personal website, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads), Pronoun book page, or Pronoun author page instead. 

We recommend using Pronoun book page links, which will automatically redirect to the appropriate retailer in your published ebook files. For example, Kindle books will link to your Amazon product pages while Kobo books will link to Kobo. 

Note that your book can contain retailer links if it’s only being distributed to that retailer. For example, a book only going to Kobo can include Kobo links.

Additionally, you can include Amazon links in your mobi file (which isn’t sent to other retailers).

______________________________________________________________________

I got an error that says “File can’t be opened.”

This error means we couldn’t open (and thus convert) your manuscript. Here are some common reasons why:

  • Your file isn’t really a docx. Instead of saving your manuscript as a docx file using a word processor, perhaps you simply changed the file name to add the “.docx” extension. Please follow these instructions to save your manuscript as a .docx file.
     
  • Your docx is blank. We can’t convert files that don’t contain content. Please upload a full book manuscript.
     
  • Your docx is password protected. Please disable password protection and upload your file again. 
     
  • Your docx contains a bad link. Try removing all links from your document, checking especially for bad links to external websites. If you copied and pasted text from a website, it might contain a hidden link even if you reformatted the text later. Also check for broken links to images. Make sure to follow our instructions to properly insert images into your manuscript.
     
  • Your docx is corrupt. Perhaps an issue on your computer corrupted your file or perhaps the file is very old. If you can open the file, try copying its contents into a new document. You can also try opening the manuscript in Google Docs, then saving/downloading as a .docx file.

______________________________________________________________________

I got an error that says “Manuscript is too large.”

Generally, manuscripts with millions of words or dozens of large images are too big for us to process.

If your manuscript is too long to convert, consider dividing it into multiple shorter volumes. You might publish a series of shorter books instead of a single long one. Or, try including smaller or fewer images in your book.

If you think you received this error by mistake, hidden formatting could be causing the issue. Turn on non-printing characters in Word and look for unnecessary page breaks and section breaks.

______________________________________________________________________

I got an error that says “Corrupt image.”

Your manuscript contains at least one corrupt image whose bad data caused conversion to fail. To find and remove the corrupt images, follow a process of elimination:

  1. Remove all images from your docx
  2. Convert your manuscript into an ebook to confirm that there are no other issues
  3. Insert your images back into your docx one at a time, converting your manuscript every time you add an image
  4. When conversion fails, remove that image from your manuscript
  5. Continue inserting images and converting until you've added all images back to your docx

If you know the file names of your images, skip the above steps and just remove the images mentioned in our error message.

______________________________________________________________________

Have questions?

Email publish@pronoun.com and we’ll be happy to help.