Self-published eBooks shouldn’t look any less professional than traditionally published eBooks. Here are some helpful eBook formatting tips.

eBook formatting tips??? BORING! I wouldn’t blame you if your eyes just glazed over and your brain fogged up.

But here’s the thing: it’s important to at least learn the basics of eBook formatting. The final eBook you publish should come out looking like something you cared about, labored over, and handled like a professional. If it doesn’t, why would a reader spend their time and money on it?

In other words, you need your eBook to look beautiful and function properly, NOT seem like a garbled mess. Proper manuscript formatting can make all the difference.

To help you format your manuscript properly for eBook conversion, I wrote an article for the Bookarma Blog sharing a number of simple eBook formatting tips for independent authors. If you need help with your eBook conversion, let us know, we’d be happy to help. BookBaby offers both a singular eBook conversion option AND an eBook conversion with distribution.

Here is an overview on preparing your manuscript:

  • Proofread. It’s an obvious first (and last) step. Check for proper spelling, grammar, and syntax. Once your book has been converted to ePUB or .mobi format, it’s too late to fix a typo.
  • Use consistent formatting for paragraph and line spacing/indentation throughout the document. Do NOT use the space bar to format/indent paragraphs or individual lines.
  • If you choose to include the publisher’s name and address, the date of publication, copyright information, your book’s ISBN number, or any appropriate collaborative credits, please do so within the first two pages of the document.
  • Use a standard font for your document (Times New Roman, Courier New, etc) — and remember, many eReading devices allow the user to customize their font preferences, so a fancier font — in addition to complicating the conversion process — will probably just get “lost in translation” anyway.
  • Don’t use very large or very small font sizes. I’d recommend 12pt font size for your body text and 14-18pt for chapter titles.
  • Extract content that is displayed within tables or sidebars and list it as ordinary text. Tables, inserts, and sidebars will NOT display properly in ePub format. If you’re using BookBaby for your eBook conversion and have questions about how to best display this content, write to info@bookbaby.com. We’re happy to help.
  • Do not include any elements that refer to page numbers other than your formatted Table of Contents. On an eReader, whatever the user isolates on their screen is a “page,” so all headers, footers, footnotes, and indexes will be deleted.
  • Do all image resizing outside of the document, then reinsert them before saving. All images must be in .png, .jpg, or .tif format, minimum 72 dpi, and in RGB color mode.
  • Do not wrap text around images. All images (except full-page images) should be set “in-line” with text. This is because eBook text “flows” across the page according to the reader’s font settings
  • Be aware that special symbols may not convert properly to ePub unless they are characters in a standard font set. This is another reason why it’s best to choose a font like Times New Roman for all text and symbols.

For more eBook preparation information, download our free PDF.

Read More

Seven basic – but important – questions about eBooks

How to format your eBook

The Top 10 Articles on eBook Formatting

eBooks 101: Standard Vs. Fixed Layout

Preparing your document for eBook Conversion

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Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 570 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

2 thoughts on “eBook formatting tips for self-published authors

  1. I have a baby book written but can’t seem to get it formatted correctly. I went to fiver and had someone do it but when I tried to put it on amazon the format was still incorrect. Do you have any suggestions or input or can I send you what I have so you can fix it or tell me where I’m going wrong?

  2. I have a baby ebook written but can’t seem to find a way to format it correctly. I need help!

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