How to Get Properly-Formatted Poetry Into Your Kindle

It seems that the Web is full of people complaining about badly-coded poetry line breaks on Kindle. As I’m new to Kindle myself, I spent a couple of days lurking in fora on TEI, looking for a simple answer to the question of how one might encode that all-important visual scoring.

Think Occam’s Razor.

N.B. I’m only explaining how you can create working documents for your own personal use–in other words, how a grad student can avoid lugging 50 library books, 2-3 binders, and a laptop just to do research. Any copyright violations are your responsibility. Don’t compile and then publish other people’s copyrighted stuff without their express written permission.

This is a lot easier than it looks. You might even be able to dispense with the .txt file and create your content directly in .doc, but it’s good practice to put data in .txt, especially if you’re cutting and pasting.

1. Open a text file and type or paste your poem text.

2. Save it as .txt (specifically, UTF-8 — I also tried UTF-16 in Stanza, and Kindle vomited it back.)

3. Open a .doc (not .docx) file.

4. Copy and paste your poem from the text file into your .doc file.

5. View your hidden characters.

6. You must change any paragraph breaks to line breaks. On Mac, that means you have to replace all the hard returns (“Enter/Return” key) at the end of each line or the space between stanzas with line breaks “Shift+Enter/Return.” You may be able to do a Find>Replace command in MS Word, but I use NeoOffice and so have to do it manually. [UPDATE: here’s how to find and replace in NeoOffice.]

7. Insert a page break after each poem to create a single “book” within one .doc file.

8. Save it as Word 97-2000-XP (.doc). Give the “book” a title you’ll recognize (e.g., “Robin’s Comps Notes”).

9. Open an e-mail and address it to your “free.kindle.com” email to send it over Wi-Fi and avoid the per-page fee. Turn off your e-mail signature file to be on the safe side. You don’t need to put anything in the Subject: line.

10. Attach the .doc you created.

11. Send the e-mail. Wait a minute or so.

12. Turn on the Wi-Fi on your Kindle (Menu > Turn Wireless On).

13. Click Home > Menu > Sync & Check for Items. Your file should download to the top of your Home page. If it doesn’t, wait another minute or so and try again. Sometimes it seems to automatically update.

14. Turn off your wi-fi, click on your file, and read away! No more bulky binders!

* * *
For crazy long lines (some Hopkins, Whitman, etc.), try the smallest text size in landscape view. I don’t know how well this will work with some L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, but it should meet most of your manuscript-formatting needs.

If you’re looking to read more than just your own study notes, you can download all the free obscure classic literary texts you want to via Project Gutenberg and manybooks.net .

Thanks, Dad, for lending me your Kindle while mine’s on backorder.

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5 thoughts on “How to Get Properly-Formatted Poetry Into Your Kindle

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Abby, Robin Kemp. Robin Kemp said: How to Get Properly-Formatted Poetry Into Your Kindle: http://t.co/5Xk0ADx #poetry #kindle #e-book #gradschool #studytips […]

  2. randallweiss says:

    I don’t have a Kindle, yet, but thanks for the pointers.

  3. Rodrigo says:

    saved my life here!

  4. Tarabud says:

    Thanks very much! It was much help!

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