Sunday, July 19, 2015

Making Redacted Text in Your E-Book

A recent post in the Boards Writer’s CafĂ© asked:

“In my novel I have a scene where the characters find a document that has redacted passages and phrases, like in the movies. Couldn’t find any font or trick in Microsoft Word that could achieve this effect. Any ideas?”

You can do it in Word and have it work well… if you then convert your file correctly before you upload to KDP.

First, you need to use Word’s Text Highlight Color command. One of the color choices on that palette is Black. It’s designed to be used over white- or light-colored text, but, in this case, you want it over black text so nothing readable shows up. In the spot where you want the redacted text, you could place a series of “words” into your story that are actually bunches of XXX XX XXXXX XXX XXXXXX. Then highlight them with solid Black. If you try to just use blank spaces it probably won’t work. Kindle devices usually truncate multiple blank spaces down to one space. You need to use actual letters instead.

The one conversion method that always works for me is to use Calibre to convert your Word file to an EPUB file (not a MOBI file). Upload that EPUB to KDP and the highlights are retained. That solid Black redacted text should work on any Kindle device or app. The XXX words will also mask the redacted text from any viewers that happen to use the “Night” setting on their device and their device happens to make the highlights disappear, though that shouldn’t happen. I have always had my highlights work with this method, even in “Night” mode.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Non-Justified Text on Kindle Devices

Recently there was a post on the Kindle Formatting Forum where the Original Poster complained, as many people have done over the years, about Kindle devices and apps insisting upon always justifying body text. In fact one response to the post said exactly that:

“Obviously all Kindles and apps display justified body text and always have.”

Well, that’s not really true. It’s just what most people have accepted because they didn’t know how to write the correct code. Kindles have always—or at least as long as I have known them—displayed pretty much exactly what your HTML code says to display, at least as far as justification goes. If you want to have ragged-right body text, all you have to do is say so.

I have posted several examples of roughly the same place in my forthcoming book, Kindle Formatting for Smart People, to show how this ragged-right formatting works correctly on a variety of Kindle displays.

Kindle Previewer Fire simulation:

Kindle Previewer E-Ink simulation:

Kindle Keyboard screenshot:

Kindle HD 6 screen shot:

Kindle for Mac screen shot:

Exactly how to do this, I’ll cover in another post, but you can see that it really does work, so don’t let any of the so-called formatting “experts” insist to you that it can’t be done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Text Character Drawing

There was a post on the KDP Formatting Forum recently that asked if it was possible to draw a figure composed of text characters and have it display correctly on the e-book page. This would be sort of like the printouts that you used to see for sale at shopping malls and county fairs, where they would take a video photo of your child and then print it out on a black ink printer using alphanumeric characters as the image pixels.

The Original Poster was told that the only way that it could be done, and display correctly across all e-book devices, would be to include it as an image of some kind: GIF or whatever.

This is not true, as I show below. This example is from a Fire HD 6 but it is the same as what showed in iBooks on my desktop Mac.

Click on the image to enlarge.

If I get time, I may discuss how to do this, though, frankly, there's not much call for it and it takes a bit of work.