First, an apology to the previous commenters. My blog lets me post, but won't let me comment on comments. Is this normal? I feel I've fallen in Blogger Never-never Land.
Back to the subject: Why is it so important to go through the steps of the Smashwords Style Guide before e-pubbing, even on Amazon.com? Because our marvelous software programs do TOO many things for us, like automatic spelling correction, aUTO mATTIC caps lock correction, lotsa good stuff. But the things they fix don't necessarily carry over into the final form, and may be undone in the e-pub final form.
Things to look for:
1. Open your manuscript and click the paragraph sign to make hidden commands show. If you see a little reverse arrow where you've hand-indented a paragragh, remove it and get the indent by using the Enter key from the end of the previous paragraph. Every time. Throughout the whole book.
2. Remove extra paragraph signs. More than 3 confuses the system. You don't need them for an e-reader anyway. The Insert--> Page Break is the correct way to move to a new chapter or force a page move, as in the beginning dedication, acknowledgement, and title pages. Be sure there is at least one space before and after the Page Break.
3. Spaces show up as a tiny dot. Remove extra spaces. Look for them at the ends of paragraphs. Remember when we were taught to put 2 spaces between sentences? Now it's one. Do a Find and Replace: "type" an invisible 2 spaces in the Find blank, and only one in the Replace blank. Since a colon (:) requires 2 spaces, do a Find for :(one space) and Replace :(two spaces). Unless you're sure you don't have a single colon in your book.
4. Got italics? It's possible to have italics run from there to the ever lovin' end of the book! Just insure that there is a space after the italic word/phrase/sentence.
5. Do you use the Styles feature of Microsoft? I never did. I just set up a manuscript every time. Smashwords Style Guide says to select your whole manuscript (Contr-A), take away the style, then set up a new style specifically for your manuscript so the whole thing is in the same style. I found this difficult with Word 10 because each item must be de-selected. I compromised on some of the choices, and it worked out well.
6. Identify each chapter title by going to each one, selecting, and then click on the Style you want--font, bold, type size, center or left margin, however you want it to look. If you want to define a new style and name it "Chapter Titles", use the small arrow toward "New Style" and make yourself happy.
6 b. If you ever decide your manuscript font needs to be changed in font name or size and Select All to make that change, it will change the chapter titles as well. I've had to do them over. Bite the bullet, breathe deeply. It doesn't take that long. Use the number or title search to move quickly through the pages.
Now what type file does your target e-publisher require? For example, CreateSpace needs PDF files. Easy. Just "Save as..." Just so I didn't send them the wrong file, I saved as "LovesSecondVerse pdf.pdf". No changes to the original file, and I can see the PDF formatting with the title. Sometimes I have to trick myself into not making mistakes.
Remember, you have a choice. You can pay someone to do this for you. For Amazon's Kindle file conversion, the price is $69, but that doesn't seem to include all the above formatting. For their CreateSpace, it's $169. For Smashwords, their army of approved freelancers on Mark's List have fees starting at $20/hr, and it will take a few hours depending on what you deliver to them. If you would rather write than format, the option exists. If you really can't deal with your own software to do the formatting, pay someone else.
So much of this has been like learning a new language, which I've done 9 times. I don't remember much Arabic because, when I left Saudi Arabia, I never intended to return. Formatting for e-publishing has been like solving a puzzle, though, and I'd like to do it again.
Questions? Type in a comment. If I can't comment on your comment, I'll just post an answer. That seems to work today.