♆ Best eBook Format

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What is the Best eBook Format

Standard eBook file formats are the best option for books that contain mostly text content. These files can be distributed to the widest possible range of retailers, libraries and subscription services, and they are readable on all eBook reading devices and Apps.

These eBook files have re-flowable content, this means that there is no fixed page size. The text will always fill the screen in the correct format, and will change size depending on the personal settings of the reader.

If your book is fully illustrated, or has a style which must be maintained as per your manuscript – you may require conversion to Fixed Layout formats.

We are often asked how to convert a Word doc to eBook files. There are many free and accessible programmes that can help you to do this, or you can enlist the help of a conversion company like eBook Partnership. Whether you are undertaking conversion yourself, or submitting the manuscript to someone else, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with the basic principles of eBook formatting from Word, before you begin.

These guidelines are for manuscripts with simple layout (novels for example, or any book that is mostly text). Images, illustrations and photos can be included in standard eBook files, and you can incorporate some simple styles. However, if you intend to convert your file to eBook files using software, it is wise to prepare carefully in order to avoid errors which can then take time to troubleshoot.

If you are using our conversion service, we will be able to incorporate some style elements into the conversion, but in order for the file to be read easily across a very wide variety of devices, the format is deliberately simple.

This post will help if you are preparing your manuscript using Microsoft Word or similar software, prior to  conversion to standard eBook file formats, mobi for Amazon Kindle devices and Apps, and ePub which is the required file format for all other retailers.

The most important piece of advice we can offer is to keep it simple. Always bear in mind that the book will be read on a variety of different devices; mobile phones, Kindles, Nooks, PC’s, laptops, tablets etc. This means that the page sizes, font size etc will all be variable, so the original document must be clean and simple.

Guidelines for preparation.

Do NOT include any of the following:

✪ Page numbers (some devices will allocate page numbers to the eBook based on the preferences of the device owner, but eBook files do not have universal page numbers)
✪ Headers and Footers
✪ Borders, background colors or background images – not recommended, as these can look make the text faint or indistinct on grey scale e-reading devices
✪ Fancy drop-caps at the start of each chapter
✪ Different color text – see above
✪ Multi-column layouts – just use a single column
✪ Text Boxes – These can be included but bear in mind that the box may break if the text within runs onto the next page. This can happen if someone is viewing the book with a large font size, and therefore as less text on each ‘page’ or screen view
✪ References to specific eBook retailers such as Amazon or Apple, as the retailers do not allow promotion of competitors in products listed on their websites.
✪ Advertising – although you can of course, mention other titles, or your website or Facebook page.

Page layout:

✪ The page size is not relevant – A4 or letter is fine.
✪ You do not need to consider margins, just use the standard settings.

Manuscript formatting:

✪ Separate chapters with a page break (Ctrl + Enter/Return) – do not use multiple paragraph returns to move to the next page.
✪ Separate paragraphs with a single paragraph break – do not use double paragraph breaks.
✪ Separate sub-sections or sections within a Chapter with a centred break – usually  * * *  – do not use a double paragraph break.
✪ Do not use tabs or multiple spaces – if you want to indent a paragraph use the Word Quick Styles options. (See below for more information about Quick Styles)

Fonts and text styling:

Support for different fonts and styles is limited in many eReader devices, so again, keep things simple. Using Word’s inbuilt Quick Styles tool is a great way to save time and maintain consistent styles across your document – check out this video from Microsoft for an introduction to Quick Styles.


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