eBook Formatting: What Page Size Should I Use?

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page size

What page size should you use when preparing for ePub conversion? Standard 8.5 x 11″ page size ensures any included images will be large enough for an iPad.

SPOILER ALERT: 8.5 x 11″ in portrait!.

I’m not a particularly technical person. When I’m involved in a discussion about the ins-and-outs of eBook formatting and eBook conversion, my eyes tend to gloss over and the other person’s voice starts to sound muffled and monotone, like the teacher from Peanuts.

So when I first asked an eBook conversion expert what page size I should make my manuscript document before conversion, I was happy to hear a very non-technical answer: “Uhhh, well,… it kinda doesn’t matter!”

You see, there is no fixed pagination with eBooks. The reader gets to customize their font, font size, and spacing preferences – so a book that is 200 pages in print could be 300, 400, 500, even 1000 “pages” on a Nook, Kindle, iPad, iPhone or other reader. ePUB files (the standard eBook format) are designed to make the text “flow” in this manner across multiple devices.

If text flows then there can be no fixed layout; if there’s no fixed layout then your manuscript file’s page size really doesn’t matter. After the ePUB conversion process, the text that was gently scooped up from your manuscript file will be displayed (in the correct order, of course!) according to user settings and preferences.

All that being said, if you’re writing your book in Word, we recommend just leaving the page size set to standard (8.5 x 11 inches) in portrait (as opposed to landscape).

Standard 8.5 x 11″ page size ensures that any included images will be at least large enough for the iPad. If you were to send us a document that you’d formatted to mimic a common eReader screen size (like 4 x 6, 5 x 7, or 5.5 x 8.5), most of your images will be too small for larger eReader/tablet devices.

Plus, you’ll be able to use that same 8.5 x 11″ Word file to print manuscripts on standard computer paper, and you’ll be able to convert it to an easily-printable PDF for any readers who prefer that format.

Let BookBaby handle your eBook conversion so you can worry about more important things, like writing and promoting!

 

BookBaby Editing Services

 

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Chris Robley
Chris Robley 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."

26 COMMENTS

  1. Wheeew~ thank you Chris! I have been working on my manuscript for over 10 years compiling notes, research and such.
    I am finally at the point of publishing my book and could not for the life of me find any info on what is probably the 1st thing to know.. the bloody page size. yikes.. hehe So it appears that there is no template… that is a relief. Thank you so much. TonyD

    • I agree. I had to ask the question in “answering format” since I could not find the simple answer. The thing is that you must start formatting your page size first before you do anything else. But no matter how I phrased the question there was no answer. And my problem is that I must first convert my paperback to the right ebook formatting before I make all the other changes–too many to mention.

  2. I was happy to see that reply too. But what about pictures? I’m adding pictures onto my A4 size paper before saving it to pdf. How will that appear on various electronic devices?
    I hope you can help with that too.
    Thanks a mill.

    • I use images in some of my ebooks and for me, aspect ratio and resolution are very important. Using the wrong aspect ratio will warp the images and a too-low resolution can compromise the quality. If you’re going to have a fixed layout, size does matter. You may find the following useful:

      “In the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines Amazon recommend producing files that are double the size of the Kindle Fire screen to support 2x zoom. So based on the dimensions of the latest Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ tablet this would make your ideal page pixel dimensions 5120 x 3200 (full page portrait), or 3200 x 5120 (full page landscape) or 3200 x 2560 (each page of a double page spread).

      The latest version of Apple’s iBooks Asset Guide recommends that content is produced at at least 1.5 times the screen size, which for the latest iPad Air would make the ideal page pixel dimensions at least 3072 x 2304 (full page portrait), or 2304 x 3072 (full page landscape) or 2304 x 1536 (each page of a double page spread).”

      Source: http://www.ebookpartnership.com/services/ebook-conversion/fixed-layout/preparing-files-fixed-layout-ebook-conversion/

  3. I’m trying to format a non-fiction book with images on most pages and found when previewing in KDP/Amazon the formatting was all over the place because a Kindle page is smaller than A4. I was looking for an answer as to the best size to format my document so I have the best chance of my book no looking unprofessional – I needed a minimum size for it to flow properly. The information on this page, unfortunately, didn’t help me in the slightest.

  4. Hi Chris,

    This is the first time I have seen the size that an eBook should be typed in anywhere.
    Lacking this information I have formatted my new first E Book to A5 size that seems to confirm to, for example, a kindle.
    Working to an average of 300 words per page I Therefore type in 12 point. My question is that if, as you recommend, working to standard 11 x 8 normal size, what size should I now type in. The same question applies to pages such as dedications, contents, etc.

    I am very confused.
    I hope you can advise
    Sincerely
    Don Morgan

  5. I wish to publish on kindle s book that has a quotation on a single page, followed by flowing text afterwards.

    Can I use some html style sheets to force this look and feel?

  6. Thank you :)

    This is very helpful, I’m looking to start putting my content together in an ebook and been researching how to properly format it. Going to downloads your templates now too. Thanks for that!

    Mozie

  7. You state Standard 8.5 x 11″ page size ensures that any included images will be at least large enough for the iPad. But image size and page are not the same thing. If images are not sized properly they will still look very bad on any size page and the larger the page the worse images can look. Most folks like to zoom in a little on images to see some detail, especially if the ebook is an art, photography, or has many images of importance. So simply stating making the page size large enough for the ipad really has nothing to do with making the images of proper resolution. On an 8.5 x 11″ page what resolution should images be?

  8. I prefer to use A4 sized paper to that my documents can be viewed and printed in the rest of the world and not just Liberia, Myanmar (Burma), and the United States, .

    Metric paper sizes are also far more logical than Imperial paper sizes, but that’s a discussion for another day.

    • Thanks for that comment… I was wondering that myself as I am in Australia and we use A4 etc. I didn’t even know what the measurements in this article meant!

  9. Great to come across some information that can help with self publishing for an e book. Struggling finding a publisher or agent who does not want money up front. Considering self publishing without any or too much cost. Thanks for the information Chris.

  10. I like the straight to the point style, but it still missed why i was searching for format sizes, and I’m still a bit confused.

    I plan to do ebooks heavily populated with pictures. I had in mind, a magazine style double spread look with picture on one side and text and possibly another small picture on the other. The amount of text will be too small to flow to another page.

    However, I see there are download size limitations. This must limit the amount of images I can include. Originally I considered at least 50 pages of images and text. I also wanted them to look good on a desk/laptop. Should I use an 8.5×11 horizontally? And keep my fingers crossed?

  11. I have looked at the ‘Building Your Book For Kindle’ that Amazon gives away but have a problem. All the measurements they give/show in the word program seem to be in inches. Alas, my Word program is in metric. So when it says something like ‘Indents at 0.5″ do I convert that into centimeters/millimeters through all the instructions or has somebody got an answer? I have been searching the internet for a solution but after an hour I am ready to give up even wanting to publish anything. Either that or I have to find someone, somewhere to do the formatting and pay them to do what should be easy if I had the metric sizes to make an attempt myself. Can anyone help me please?

    • Word defaults to inches and so do most tutorials on using Word (as far as I’ve seen). So you do have to convert. However, you can also globally change the default measurement system in Word to inches and change it back when you’re done.

      In Word’s advanced options section, you’ll see an option for changing measurements from centimeters to inches.

      Any titled measurement option will still have the same name but show inches instead. For example, the displayed size for “Letter” goes from 21.59 cm x 27.94 cm to 8.5″ x 11″, but you’ll still know it’s the Letter format and size.

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