Figuring Out Ebook Formatting


Much to the frustration of my later self, I didn’t figure out ebook formatting before I started writing my first book. This led to a lot of time-consuming mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Like what you ask? Like using tab indents instead of automatic spacing for new paragraphs, and having to trawl through one of my later drafts to remove all of the tabs manually. So I speak from experience when I say that if you’re planning to publish an ebook, do yourself a favour and figure this stuff out as early as you can because it’ll save you a ton of unnecessary fumbling down the line.

Though I don’t have plans to publish on platforms other than Amazon until the KDP Select period expires, I did make use of the Smashwords style guide to figure out ebook formatting. It’s clear, well written, has all the information you’ll need in one convenient document, and most importantly it’s free. I highly recommend it.

I also made use of Calibre, the free book management software that lets you convert to and from just about any format, including all the major ebook formats like mobi and epub. It’s a great bit of software that gives you complete control over the conversion process and even lets you preview your file by simulating certain devices so you can see how your document will be displayed.

That’s it really – between the style guide, Calibre, and OpenOffice, I had everything I needed to figure out how to format an ebook correctly. The process ended up being surprisingly simple, it just took a bit of time to understand how to wrestle the software in to compliance. At least next time I’ll already know all this stuff and won’t make the same daft mistakes. Onwards and upwards.

Photo by Zhao ! licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

1 thought on “Figuring Out Ebook Formatting”

  1. This is very useful info. I still deal sometimes with writers who create their paragraph indents by hitting the spacebar five times, and page breaks by hitting Enter as many times as necessary. Get to know your word-processing software. Format chapter numbers and titles consistently. This is all good advice for writers who plan to go the traditional route as well as for self-publishers.

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