Ebook Formatting: How to Create Standard, Text-Heavy Ebooks

Thursday, March 24, 2016

If you’re on track to creating a text-heavy ebook, you’ll need to know the basic programs, options, and helpful tools available to you.

Basic Styles and Ebook Formats

The two major ebook formats for simple, text-heavy ebooks are EPUB and Amazon’s MOBI (for Kindle). In your book creation tool of choice, (Microsoft Word, InDesign, PressBooks…) make sure to use styles and formats. Most people prefer to buy pre-formatted templates that have these styles built in. You can also create your own template using the options, but you’ll want to keep it consistent throughout your book.

A Few Standard Ebook Guidelines

The major ebook device manufacturers install a standard set of fonts by default on their device. If you use any font other than Times New Roman, you may be preventing readers from using their device to customize the fonts they want to see. Besides, using fonts that are too wild can be more distracting than appealing.

The majority of e-readers cannot display color, so be sure your ebook looks good in greyscale. Keep images simple and small in size, so that your entire book remains under 10MB. In standard MOBI and EPUB, you can’t make your text wrap around images, so just insert them under the text. If you include quotes, tables, or graphs you may want to take a screen shot and insert them as images. Use png, not jpg. If your book is non-fiction, make sure you offer a table of contents to allow readers to find the sections they need.

Ebook Creation Tools

Most writers use Microsoft Word to type out research papers, jot down book ideas, or create the next great American novel. But there are alternatives like OpenOffice, NeoOffice, LibreOffice, and Apple’s Pages word processing programs. InDesign is another option, specifically geared toward designing beautiful interiors for print books and ebooks. InDesign is a complex, page layout program used by professional book designers.

Ebook Creation Templates

Book design templates, when used correctly, can be your best friends for ebook formatting. Several vendors have created templates and guidelines offering a whole slew of designs appropriate to different genres and artistic tastes. All templates are able to convert to both print and ebook formats (PDF, EPUB, and MOBI) with no elbow grease necessary, saving you the hassle of doing messy conversions yourself:

  • Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates – while not free, this is a great option because of the wide variety of professional designs offered. You paste in your text and export to PDF for print, EPUB, and MOBI.
  • PressBooks – a clould-based publishing system built by WordPress that offers over 50 unique templates. PressBooks also offers a book cover generator. After all, what’s a book without its cover? PressBooks interiors generate PDF for print, EPUB, and MOBI files and offer IngramSpark publishers a discount.
  • Scrivener – this little tool packs a big punch in helping you stay organized. It allows you to write your book in scenes and chapters, with a designated space to keep your research notes clutter-free. Scrivener lets you export (compile) to PDF, MOBI, EPUB, doc, Markdown, and other formats.

Use these templates and tools to format your book by applying styles to your paragraphs and headings to create a beautiful ebook formatting ready to deliver to online retailers.

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Carla King

Carla King is an adventure travel author and technology journalist who has been self-publishing since 1994. She is the founder of Misadventures Media, a small press specializing in adventure travel books, and Author Friendly, a service that provides affordable publication planning, coaching, formatting, editing, design, and social media setup for independent authors. Her Self-Publishing Boot Camp educational series of books and workshops have helped authors make good publishing decisions since 2010. Find out more at AuthorFriendly.com.