Formatting Services FAQ

If your question is not addressed here, please send it to

Table of Contents

Q1. How do I log in?

When you signed up for the formatting service, you should have received a confirmation email that gave you your login information. Just follow the instructions in that email. Start by going to and filling in your account name, then click the Login button. This will take you to your account page. From there, click on the book you want to work on.

Please note that computers and the Internet are subject to outages at any time, from a power outage to a machine failure. Rarely, but from time to time, the server is brought down deliberately to upgrade hardware or software. If you are unlucky enough to try to log in during such an outage, please be patient and try again in a few minutes. If you are ever unable to log in for more than 30 minutes or so, something is seriously wrong, so please report the problem to We will fix it as soon as possible.

If you misplaced your login information or have any other trouble logging in, just send a note to

Q2. Where can I learn more about marking up my manuscript?

The first place to look for information about marking up your manuscript is the sample manuscript for the fake novel Sam Speedo (The Bathing Suit Detective). You can see the before (the manuscript) and the after (the Mobi file, the EPUB file, the PDF file, and the HTML file) at

That should be enough to get you started. It’s really easy.

The next step is to read the user manuals at

If you run into problems, read through this FAQ. If that doesn’t solve the problem, send your question (with full details) to

Q3. How do I send you my manuscript?

First, log in to your author page then click on the book you want to work on to take you to your book page. Look for the red Upload button, but don’t click it yet. Instead, click on the Browse… button in the line above it to select the manuscript file on your computer that you wish to upload. Then, click the Upload button. After the upload is finished, you should see the newly uploaded file in your list of files.

Your manuscript must be a plain text file. The exact title of the file to upload is shown in the filename column on your author page.

Q4. What do you mean by “plain text”?

This is the kind of file that usually has a .txt extension and the kind of file that a text editor works with.

If you are using a word processor, you must use its “save as” or “save copy as” feature to save a temporary copy as a plain text file. This item is usually on your word processor’s file menu.

If your text editor or word processor gives you the choice, the preferred type of plain text file (its character set or encoding format) is UTF-8. Some word processors may call it Unicode instead of UTF-8.

You should turn off all the automatic formatting features of your word processor, such as smart quotes, automatic italics, automatic links, automatic lists, headers, footers, table of contents, etc.

Q5. Must I upload my cover image file every time I upload a new version of my manuscript?

No. Usually, sending it once is enough, unless you modify the image. Then upload the new version. We reuse it on every formatting run.

Q6. Are you a backup service for my manuscript and image files?

No, we are not. Please be sure to do your own backups.

Q7. How do I reload a web page

Occasionally, you may return to your book page (after uploading a file or after clicking the Mobi or EPUB or PDF button) before the processing has finished. In that case, you might see the new files yet. Give it a few seconds, then click on the red Refresh file list button.

Sometimes, depending on your web browser and how it caches web pages, when you click on a file (such as mobireport.txt), you web browser will show a previous version. On a report file such as mobireport.txt, you can tell by looking at the time stamps. If you are looking at a stale version of the file, the trick is to refresh or reload the page.

In most web browsers, you reload the current page by one of the following methods:

Q8. Did I produce a new EPUB file or not?

When you click on the EPUB button, you will get an EPUB file unless there are serious errors. Go to your book page to see if an EPUB file (such as stormy.epub) is present in your list of files.

Note, it can take from perhaps 2 to 30 seconds for the processing to finish, depending on the length of your manuscript. If you click on the EPUB button then immediately click on the Return to book page link, the new files may not show up. Give it a few seconds then refresh (reload) your list of files.

Q9. How do I read the EPUB report file?

After pressing the EPUB button (on your book page), typically within 2 to 30 seconds four things occur:

When you return to your book page, click on the epubreport.txt file to see the results.

Here is an example of a report file where the EPUB file was created but had some errors that prevented it from validating successfully. (The manuscript name for this example was xxx.txt.)

EPUB formatting started September 19, 2013 at 05:29:10 PM
Input came from a text editor text file (utf-8)
Starting to process manuscript xxx for EPUB
Generating HTML output
Warning: Cover image file has not been specified (add a <cover> tag)
Finished processing manuscript xxx for EPUB

Starting to run EpubCheck
Epubcheck Version 3.0.1

Validating against EPUB version 3.0
ERROR: xxx.epub/OEBPS/content.opf(45,37): item with id 'coverpage' not found
ERROR: xxx.epub/OEBPS/content.opf(45,37): assertion failed: itemref element idref attribute does not resolve to a manifest item element
WARNING: xxx.epub: item (OEBPS/cover.html) exists in the zip file, but is not declared in the OPF file

Check finished with warnings or errors

EPUB formatting finished September 19, 2013 at 05:29:14 PM


The first part of the report, up to the line that says

Finished processing manuscript xxx for EPUB


is related to creating the EPUB file. There were no fatal errors, so an EPUB file was produced successfully, but with the warning that the manuscript was missing the <cover> tag.

Everything after the line

Starting to run EpubCheck


and before the line

EPUB formatting finished September 19, 2013 at 05:29:14 PM


is the output of the EpubCheck program. Note that it has two errors and a warning. This does not mean the EPUB file was not created; it means the EPUB file does not pass the validation tests. In this case, all the messages are the result of the missing <cover> tag. Put that line into your manuscript and try again. For this example, I would add a line like the following

<cover> cover1.jpg


to the xxx.txt manuscript. Of course, be sure you have uploaded your cover image file (in this example, it is a file named cover1.jpg).

The trick to handling the errors is to fix what you know is wrong, then try again. Don’t worry at first about any of the errors or warnings you don’t understand, until there are no problems left that you do understand.

Q10. How do I fix EPUB validation errors?

Follow the suggestions under How do I read the EPUB epubreport.txt file?.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, see Specific EPUB validation error messages question below.

The next step would be for you to compare your manuscript with the known-good sample manuscript

If that still doesn’t solve the problem, send full details to, so the error message can be added to the FAQ.

Q11. Specific EPUB validation error messages

(This section will be filled in as problems arise.)

Q11. Why isn’t the first line of the first paragraph of a chapter indented?

The common convention in fiction is to indent the first line of paragraphs except for paragraphs that begin a chapter or that follow a break (such as a scene break).

This refers, of course, to the typset, finished book, not necessarily to a typewritten manuscript submitted to a traditional editor or publisher. This may be at the heart of the confusion some authors have about the subject. If you were taught in a typing class to indent every paragraph of a manuscript, that was for the purpose of preparing a typescript to submit to an agent or editor, not the typeset version of the printed book.

It is usually thought of this way: The purpose of the first-line indent is to separate paragraphs, not to mark the start of a paragraph. Thus, the first paragraph of a chapter or scene does not need to be indented.

Of course, there are exceptions, and it is not the end of the world if you prefer a different style. Book designers are free to style their books however they like. Nepo Press is not quite that flexible. You can adjust some aspects of your book’s formatting, but not everything.

Nepo Press follows the convention. If, instead, you would prefer to indent all paragraphs, you can control that for Mobi and EPUB and HTML by editing the style sheet (make a custom version of style.css and htmlstyle.css, named perhaps custom.css and htmlcustom.css) as described elsewhere in the documentation and change the appropriate paragraph style. That is, change the lines

p.first {text-indent: 0; }
/* p.first {text-indent: 1.25em; } */


to comment out the first and uncomment the second, like this:

/* p.first {text-indent: 0; }  */
p.first {text-indent: 1.25em; }


A similar change for PDFs is not possible at this time.

See also the <indent> and <noindent> tags discussed in the Advanced user manual at

Q12. How do I set the file encoding to UTF-8?

# -*- mode: org; coding: utf-8 -*-


Then, save the file and it will be in UTF-8 encoding. The line above also sets the mode to Org Mode, which gives a lovely outline processor. Pressing S-Tab (shift tab) cycles through the 3 views—try it, you’ll probably like it. If you don’t want Org Mode, then use the following line at the top of your manuscript:

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-


Q13. How do I mark italics it one fell swoop?

In preparing an existing manuscript, the italics (and bold) need to be marked with asterisks. You could do this by reading through your manuscript and looking for any word or phrase that was in italics and then putting an asterisk before and after it. This is the hard way and should never be necessary.

Instead, use your word processor’s ability to search and replace by pattern and/or formatting.

Exactly how you do this depends on the word processor or text editor you use. One obvious way to find out how is to read your word processor’s documentation or to Google for something like “Microsoft Word how to search for italics” or “LibreOffice how to search for italics”.

If your word processor does not have the ability to search and replace by format (or if it is difficult to figure out how to use it), no problem. Just open your .doc or .docx file in LibreOffice, mark the italics, etc., then return to your favorite word processor. LibreOffice is not only free and easy to install, but it has a great search and replace feature for searching and replacing by pattern and formatting, and we have a video or two showing exactly how to do it (see

If you use Microsoft Word, this link might help: It explains how to search for italicized words and phrases. Basically, you click on Replace then the Find tab, click in the “Find what” field, click on the Format button (you may need to click on the More button in order to see the Format button) then choose Font. From the Find Font window, in the “Font style:” list, choose “Italic”, then click OK. Finally, back in the Find and Replace window, just go through your document clicking on Find Next and adding the asterisks.

(The above web page mentions the Edit menu. Depending on your version of Microsoft Word, you might not have an Edit menu. In that case, click on the Home tab and look for the Editing pane near the upper right corner. If you don’t see the Editing pane, you may need to click the little arrow near the upper right corner (or press Ctrl+F1) to expand the “ribbon”.)

Q14. How do I search and replace by patterns or formatting?

See the previous question.

Q15. How do I install LibreOffice?

Go to and follow the instructions. It is very easy to install.

Q16. Can I use italics in chapter titles?

Italics are no problem in chapter titles, but EPUB does not allow them in the table of contents. An EPUB file will still be created, but it won’t pass EpubCheck validation.

So, if you are only making Mobi and PDF files, the following will work:

* Chapter One <break> A *Really* Important Chapter


If you are making EPUB files also, you could do it this way:

* "Chapter One <break> A *Really* Important Chapter" "Chapter One - A Really Important Chapter"


Note the difference. In the second example, two items are supplied, each within double quotation marks. The first item, containing italics, is the title to be used in the body of the book. The second item, with no italics, is the title to be used in the table of contents.

Another way to do it would be to supply three chapter titles: one for each of the three formats, like this:


* "Chapter One <break> A *Really* Important Chapter" "Chapter One - A Really Important Chapter"



* Chapter One <break> A *Really* Important Chapter



* Chapter One <break> A *Really* Important Chapter



Q17. Is there a complete list of available tags?

Yes. Read the user manuals at

Tip: Each user manual has an appendix named List of Tags, which serves as an index to the tags discussed in that book.