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Formatting Your First eBook

EBook Formatting for Beginners

Ebooks are becoming more popular by the day and writer’s are taking advantage of the relatively simple production process in getting their books online. Unfortunately, some seem to be unaware there is a procedure that must be followed in order for their words to be readable on a hand held device, an eReader. Following are a few basic formatting tips that will give your readership the best experience possible.

Fonts

  • Do not use a variety of very fancy fonts especially the curlicue scripts where some strokes are lighter than others. Use Times New Roman or Verdana.
  • Keep the font size at 12pts. Under 9pts your readers will squint or over 14pts their eyes will wander over the page.
  • Don’t mix up the fonts using serif and San-serif in the same block of text.
  • Retain one colour your text – although you can flirt with colour in the headings and title.
  • Bold or italicize text repeated throughout the document is a real pain. Don’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Use capitals at the beginning of a sentence only.
  • Underlining specific words to get your point across is an insult to your readers.

 

Paragraphs

  • Always indent the first line.
  • Make sure there is a separating space between paragraphs so they won’t run together.
  • If you hit the paragraph return bar many times to separate text it causes blank lines on the eReader. Format your space between paragraphs in your word processing format.
  • Be consistent with paragraph spacing.

 

Page Margins

  • Make sure page margins are consistent – usually 1.5″ left, right, top, and bottom.

 

Page Backgrounds

  • Do not use a brightly coloured, solid background for a page with a contrasting colour for the text. This will immediately put your readers on edge.
  • If you do choose a background colour make sure it’s consistent throughout your publication. Don’t alternate between many colour combinations for every page.

 

Page Numbers

  • eReaders scroll in a continuous manner so page numbers are redundant.

 

Arranging Text

  • Use sub-headers for large continuous blocks of text.
  • Use bullets and list numbers sparingly.

 

Punctuation

  • Never leave two spaces after a period. The second space creates a gap between sentences and sometimes causes rivers of white space.
  • Do not use exclamation or question marks to get your point across – they have their place.

 

Headlines

  • Bold your headline – don’t use fancy fonts, outrageous colours, italics, etc.
  • Watch your hyphenation.

 

Subheaders

  • Always use a slightly larger size font than the text – it’s ok to bold.
  • Keep subhead close to the text – don’t leave gapping spaces between or it looks like the heading is floating.

 

Logos

  • It’s okay to include your logo but put it in its place – randomizing placement causes distraction.
  • Hyperlinks are fine although they shouldn’t take away from your text.

 

Headers and Footers and Borders

  • Because an eReader will scroll text, headers, footers, and page numbers are redunant.
  • Encasing each page of text with a colourful border in a variety of widths is a waste of time and a turn off to readers.

 

eBook Covers

  • If you design your own cover make sure it’s interesting and attractive.
  • Watch out for copyrights in cover design and images.
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