Formatting Your Manuscript for eBook Distribution

formatting your manuscript

Between the writing and eBook distribution steps comes the conversion to ePub step, and properly formatting your manuscript goes a long way toward how smoothly the conversion process will go.

Publishing a book through a traditional publisher is no longer the only way to get your work distributed worldwide. With eBook distribution available to everyone, the barriers for the distribution of books have been leveled – but now a writer is faced with new challenges that traditionally were the publisher’s, like marketing, promoting, tracking sales, etc. While the eBook revolution is certainly liberating, it does require the author put on some new hats.

Another issue to address comes before all the book promotion assignments. BookBaby makes the process of converting your native document to a digital book simple, but there are a number of guidelines you should follow to ensure your finished eBook looks and functions exactly the way you imagine it will.

Between the writing and eBook distribution steps comes the conversion to ePub step, and properly formatting your manuscript goes a long way toward how smoothly the conversion process will go. BookBaby’s guidelines to formatting your document include:

1. Proof your files for proper spelling, grammar, and syntax

You are your own editor! We don’t proofread your work (after all, creative spelling and grammar might be part of your writing style or a character’s language) – it is up to you to make sure that the document you send us for conversion and eBook distribution is meticulously proofread before you upload it. Once your book has been converted to ePub format, it’s too late to fix a typo!

2. Don’t use tabs or the space bar to format paragraphs and individual lines

While it may look the way you want it to in a Word or text file, tabs and spaces wreak havoc when converted to eBook format. Use the “Format/Paragraph” menu or alignment buttons in the toolbar of your text-editing program if you want indents.

3. Metadata and credits first

If you choose to include the publisher’s name and address, date of publication, copyright info, ISBN number, or collaborative credits in your digital book, do so within the first two pages of the document.

4. Use standard fonts

Use standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Courier New. Not all fonts are supported by the eBook format and eReaders.

5. Don’t use very small or very large font sizes

We recommend 12 point size font for body text and 14-18 point for chapter titles.

6. Resize large images

Resize large images to 300 pixels high if you would like them to display in-line with text. Cover and full-page images should 800-1,000 pixels high by 550-700 pixels wide. Logos or simple images should be 75-100 pixels high. Do all image resizing outside of the document with image editing software, then reinsert them in your document (i.e. don’t resize your images in Word or a text editor). All images must be in .png, .jpg, or .tif format, 72 dpi, and in RGB color mode. And don’t try to resize smaller images by simply increasing the pixel count. A 4″ x 4″ image at 72 pixels will get severely pixellated if you just increase the the pixel count to 300 and keep the dimensions the same. Downsizing an image will retain it’s clarity, but it needs to be scanned or created at full size at 300 pixels for best results.

7. Do not wrap text around images

All images (except full-page images) should be set in-line with text.

8. Extract content that is displayed in tables or sidebars and list it as ordinary text

Tables, inserts, and sidebars will not display properly in ePub format. Tables and graphs can always be included as images.

9. Use Times New Roman for all text and symbols

Special symbols may not convert properly to ePub unless they are characters in a standard font set. It’s best to choose a font like Times New Roman for all text and symbols.

10. Don’t refer to page numbers

Do not include any elements that refer to page numbers other than your formatted Table of Contents. Pages in your document will not coincide with the “pages” on any given eReader.

Follow these guidelines, and you’re on your way to successful eBook distribution! If you need more information, check out our FAQ, email, or call 877-961-6878 (12pm to 8pm Eastern).

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  1. Hi there,
    Do I leave the cover in the final manuscript file or delete it and the uploaded image is used as the cover?

  2. Hello,
    I want to do an e book from different sort of files. It is a course manual. I have Powerpoint slides that I want to include, I have word files that I want to include, I have PDF files that I want to include. How shall I beguin?

  3. My book has already been published in UK by a traditional publisher but I have e-book rights. This is volume one of a two volume historical novel. What is the procedure if I want to have it put into ebook form?

  4. I already have a book in paperback and ebook with Amazon. I have my files. Does book baby have the same file specifications as kindle publishing direct and createaspace. I used kdp and createaspace. What do I need to do to publish my book with book baby?

    • Thanks for your comment Debra. We do accept the same formats for your new eBook and Print On Demand books. I suggest you call one of our publishing specialists at 1-877-961-6878 in either or Portland, OR or Philadelphia-area offices to go over all of the technical issues.


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