How to Format Images for Kindle

Formatting images for Kindle is a huge drag. The official KDP FAQs are laughably underdeveloped here, basically telling you that the four most common image types are supported (gee, thanks!) and not much else. Personally, I have completely redone the images in my textbook Game Theory 101: The Complete Textbook at least three times now, most recently because the way Kindle compresses images changed without any notice. I am writing this post to impart my knowledge on you.

Here are the most important time/money saving tips:

  1. This process is going to suck. You will think you are doing everything right, then the Kindle uploader will find a way to completely screw you over. An image will stop appearing. The image will appear blurry. Your document size will suddenly explode. You will become unbelievably frustrated at some point. Accept it now, and understand you will likely have to do some experimentation to fix these problems later.
  2. Kindles (and the .mobi file extension) were created to display text. Images were very clearly an afterthought. However pretty your image looks on your computer screen, it is not going to look nearly as pretty once you have uploaded it. Sorry.
  3. Do not use fine lines in your images. To compress file sizes, KDP evidently eliminates random lines of pixels from your images. If parts of your image contain lines that are only one or two pixels thick, those lines may magically disappear in the final version. In other words, make your images as blunt as possible. You can’t control which lines disappear, but that will not matter much if no single line is crucial to the image as a whole.
  4. By extension, if your image contains words, be careful which font you use. I originally used Cambria in many of my game theory payoff tables, but Cambria has a lot of numbers and letters with very thin lines. (The middle part of an e has this feature, for example. Without that middle line, you are looking at a c.) I switched over to Franklin Gothic Demi. It is blocky and ugly in PDFs. But Kindle is not PDF world. Blocky texts look great in Kindle world. You can also consider bolding other fonts to manually create blockier text.
  5. Do not create images larger than what you are using for your final product. In the normal publishing world, you should blow up all of your images, save them as large files, and shrink the dimensions once you have put them in the file. This ensures that the dpi (dots per inch) of the images remains large, which is important for printing purposes. But Kindle world is not the normal world. Following normal advice leads to two problems. (1) Kindle will randomly decide to remove lines of pixels, creating the problem described above. (2) Kindle will retain the larger file size, thus increasing the size of the document without changing the quality of the image on the screen. This means you will be unnecessarily paying greater delivery costs.
  6. You should also compress your images. To do this, I use IrfanView, which is the greatest image cropping software ever created. Simply paste the image into IrfanView and press “s” to save. When you choose to save as a JPEG, it will give you a range of quality options from 0 to 100. I suggest selecting 50 here, which is in line with KDP file size control guidelines. If you choose a smaller amount, the colors of the image will start to bleed into one another. Anything more hardly changes the observable quality of the image in the Kindle but sucks up file space. (And we want to shrink this to save on delivery costs.)
  7. Finally, some basic infromation: If you are writing your book on Word, you need to use the INSERT -> PICTURE command. If you copy/paste an image directly into the document, the image has a nasty tendency of disappearing when you upload the book. If you have a lot of images in your book, I suggest adding this to Word’s quick access toolbar.

Following these guidelines has decreased Game Theory 101‘s delivery costs by $0.03. While that might not seem like much, if you sell eight copies a day, that’s almost $90 over the course of the year. It has also increased the attractiveness of the book, which one would imagine correspondingly increases sales.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips, and I will be glad to add them here.

25 responses to “How to Format Images for Kindle

  1. Thanks for the tips. Good stuff.

    I’m having an issue where all of my images are 7.5″ x 6″ in Word, but some of them randomly shrink down to smaller images by the time they get into Kindle. It’s very frustrating. Sometimes I have remake the image and insert it over again, even though it seems the same.

    Have you found a consistent way to format the images in Word?

  2. Thanks!

    The problem I’m having is that I have pictures that I’m putting into Word which are smaller than the maximum size, but some (but not most) end up shrunken down on the kindle, even though they look fine in Word or if converted to PDF.

    If I make them specific dimensions in pixels, they show up random sizes on Kindle. If I change the properties of the image in Word to 6″ wide, MOST end up the right size on Kindle, but some still mysteriously shrink.

    It’s probably some combination of Word, dpi, pixel dimensions, and image size settings in Word, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out the issue, and just have to randomly change things until one sticks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I THINK I’m doing everything “right,” but in previewing my book, my pictures are showing up as a camera and red triangle with exclamation point. (Pictures are JPEG, under the KB limit & 72 dpi.) Just tried Irfan set at 50; same result. If I upload with a PDF instead HTML filtered, most of the photos work but the text doesn’t look good. Any chance you can help me with this?

    • Not really sure what’s going on here. I have heard that the system is terrible at converting PDFs, so that may be the issue.

    • Steve and christa… Hi. I’m having the same problem. yesterday the pictures were working fine in the previewer but other formatting was off. So I fixed everything and now the formatting looks great but no images… just the camera with red triangle. If you found a solution please let me know.
      Thanks,
      Mark

      • I ended up just uploading the whole book straight from Word! It did work, though the ONE thing (I think) that I could not get to convert correctly was that some of my chapter numbers were not centered at the beginning of the chapter. I decided images and time were more important than this, ๐Ÿ™‚ and uploaded like that anyway. I am pleased with how the images look.

    • If the pictures aren’t showing up, you’re probably either not uploading them, or you’re uploading them not in proper relation to the HTML file (that is, they’re not in the directory the HTML file knows to look in.)

      When uploading in HTML format, you need to put the HTML and the folder containing the images (should be called something like Your Title_files) into a .ZIP file and upload that.

      So if I were uploading a book called Big Bugs, I’d have a file called BigBugs.html (or BigBugs.htm) and a folder called BigBugs_files. I’d copy both into a compressed file called BigBugs.zip and upload BigBugs.zip. (You should be able to copy them to a compressed file in any newer Windows operating system from the right-click menu. It says Send to –>Compressed (zipped) folder.)

  4. Thanks! I’ll keep trying various changes to see if I can get it to work. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi. I got the images to appear in the Kindle Previewer!!!! I did this by using a program called Mobipocket Creator to open and covert my Word Doc to a PRC (mobi.doc, I think)… I then uploaded this to Kindle and downloaded the kindle preview file and viewed it in the previewer. It looks good. I still have some formatting issues (or should I say, new ones) that need to be worked out in Word and then go through the mobi process build again.

      hope this helps someone.

      Mark

  5. rick daccardi

    My question is what layout do I chose to format the illustrations? square, tight, in line, behind text? what is best? I have so far found nothing regarding this issue

  6. Can anyone help a first timer, please? In the KDP previewer, most of the images in my ebook are fine, but those that I created with MS Word and then saved as .jpeg have been replaced with an icon showing a camera and an exclamation point. I have searched everywhere, but can’t find out what this means or how to fix it. Very frustrating, so I’d really appreciate some help. Thanks.

    • What do you mean “created with MS Word”?

      • I pasted two images into Word so that I could get them in the same ‘picture’ (e.g. a tortoise and a dinosaur). Then I took a screen shot, copied the screenshot into Word, and saved it as a picture in .jpeg format. I did something similar on Paint.net, but both types were replaced by the strange icon in the KDP reviewer.

  7. Instead of pasting pictures into Word, you need to use the “insert” feature.

  8. Firs timer too. Having problems with pictures when combined with words. To solve the camera looking pictures when viewed on kindle, I converted (saved) the pictures to TIFF instead of JPEG format. Do not copy and paste pictures into word. Instead, insert the pictures using the insert found in MSWord.

  9. Hi, William! Iยดve noticed that images are OK and centered n my Kindle paperwhite but they go “left” in Kindle reader for android. Since I guess many people will also use the cellphone to read – as myself – do you have a clue on what might be wrong there? Thank you.

  10. After I upload it converts the file to KDP or whatever and when I preview all the images show up as red x’s. Am I supposed to be able to see them in the preview? I embedded them as .jpg in a .doc file using the insert picture from file commands. But file types are supposed to be supported. What can I do?

    • You should be able to see them in preview. Unfortunately, I can’t really say what the exact problem is for you or give you advice on how to fix it. =/

  11. It doesn’t matter what you do. Kindle still finds a way to fuck it up. I’ve converted the EXACT SAME FILE the exact same way and gotten different results five minutes later. There’s no rhyme or reason to it at all. Have spent days trying to get 195 illustrations into a format that works. You fix one thing, and another screws up ten pages later. Total crap.

  12. UPDATE: Problem solved. Convert the file to Epub using Calibre, then open it with the Beta version of Kindle Previewer 3, then use THAT mobi file as your Kindle image file. Believe it or not, it worked.

    • Boy did I want this to work for me!! Sadly (x 1 billion), it did not…

      Even with this process, my mobi file is still shows the three imprint logo files in my file at an absurdly small size (meaning: the height of a line of text). Meanwhile, they look FINE in the Epub and html files. #argh

  13. Have 50 short early aviation history stories I’ve assembled into a 2 volume anthology. I’m considering unbundling and doing a Kindle for each story. Text & images are in each story. Most of the images come from Google, Gutenberg, Archives.org, or other scan. Originals no longer exist. My wife is an Adobe guru and can massage each image to 300 dpi, maybe a little more depending on the clarity of the scan. Process = copy from the Web, paste into a MSWord document, massage in Adobe CS, convert to Jpeg. How much world-of-hurt will I encounter in using the Kindle prep?

    • A lot, but a manageable amount. You definitely don’t want to have to do the entire process twice, though. That would be a world of pain. I’d try doing two or three, then upload a test document through KDP to check to see if you are doing it right.

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