Smashwords formatting limitations

Other publishing platforms may allow many types of formatting, but Smashwords isn’t one of them! So, whether you’ve seen ebooks look like this or like that, remember—you surely haven’t seen them on Smashwords.

It’s easier to list what Smashwords doesn’t allow than what it does, so here’s a list that includes the most (but not all) things that…

…Smashwords DOESN’T ALLOW:

  • Fonts other than: Times New Roman, Garamond and Arial (with the last two being depreciated)
  • Font size greater than 20pt
  • Use of color or highlights
  • Use of first line indents and paragraph space (either first line paragraph indents or block style paragraph method [space between paragraphs])
  • Tabs
  • Space bar spaces (excessive spaces created by hitting your space bar)
  • Kerning
  • Compressed or expanded fonts
  • Poor covers
  • Tables
  • Columns
  • Text boxes
  • Mixing multiple text or paragraph styles for your body
  • Automatic footnotes and indexes (or automatic anything for that matter)
  • Text wrapped around floating images — only in-line images allowed (above/below text)!
  • Automatic bullets/numbering
  • Drop caps
    (a drop cap is the large initial capped letter you may see in the first paragraph of a chapter in a print book)
  • File size larger than 15Mb
  • Paragraph space before
  • Paragraph space more than 10pt after
  • Line spacing other than single or 1.5
  • Multiple consecutive paragraph returns
  • Section breaks
  • Images other than JPG and PNG
  • High resolution or print quality images
  • Justified text
  • Frequent and/or dramatic font size variations
  • Repeating titles/entries in the Table of Contents
  • Custom symbols (such as é î ® Ω Σ)
  • Headers and Footers
  • Page numbers
  • Other indents besides the “first line”
  • Automatic ToC and Index
  • Multiple conflicting paragraph styles
  • And many others…


  • Not to put the cover inside your manuscript
    (Meatgrinder automatically inserts your cover image into your .epub and .mobi files, so if you do insert the cover image it’ll cause the cover to appear twice in these file formats.)
  • Not to use page sizes other than letter or A4
  • Not to write “Printed in the United States,” because this is your Smashwords ebook, not your print edition. In most cases, your book will fail Smashwords’ manual review and get rejection from Premium.
  • Not to encourage readers to visit a specific retailer to leave a review. “Please remember to leave a review for my ebook at Amazon” –again rejection from Premium
  • It’s not necessary to place your ISBN inside your ebook
  • If the book is also available in a print edition, do not name retailers, just write, “This book is available in print at most online retailers.”

LINKS TO AMAZON – please do not link or refer to any other digital download source other than Smashwords or your personal blog or website. Retail partners don’t want to see links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., or mention of the Kindle or Nook. You wouldn’t advertise your worst competitor in your book, would you? Well, Apple really doesn’t like to sell books that advertise Amazon, either 😉

AUTOVETTER – is software that inspects your document upon submission for formatting errors according to the Smashwords Style Guide.

PREMIUM CATALOG – is a collection of books that get distributed to major retailers because they meet Smashwords Style Guide requirements.

MEATGRINDER – is software that creates reflowable ebooks that look great on any e-reading device. “Reflowable” means that the text of your ebook will easily flow across all screen sizes, whether your book is read on a small screen like a smartphone, or a larger screen like a tablet. Reflowable books enable your customer to click a button, and instantly enlarge the font size for more comfortable reading.


Also known as Nat Mara & Bookaholic at Fiverr.
Graphic designer, ebook architect, book typesetter, and digital nomad with more than a decade of experience.

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