Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 17, 2013

Formatting Your Manuscript For E-Book Conversion Tips

There are three main file types currently associated with eBooks:

EPUB (.epub) – Short for “electronic publication,” this is the most popular open standard format for eBooks that allows DRM (digital rights management). It is also the format used with all the major retailers EXCEPT Amazon/Kindle. With EPUB, reflowable content ensures that text is displayed in the optimal manner for each eReader or smartphone device.

• Mobipocket (.mobi) – An eBook format that allows users to add a blank page at any point in the text for notes, bookmarks, corrections, and drawings.

• Kindle (.azw) – Amazon’s proprietary format is based on mobipocket, but it comes with its own DRM protections.

1) Once your book has been converted to ePub format, it’s too late to fix a typo! So proof your files for spelling, grammar, and syntax. Remember you are now your own editor! It is up to you to make sure the document you convert to an eBook is meticulously proofread. Even if you pay a company to do the converting for you, you still have to have it perfectly edited, so you might want to consider paying someone to edit your book prior to conversion.

2) Don’t use tabs or the space bar to format paragraphs and individual lines. While it may look the way you want it 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) Use standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Courier New. Not all fonts are supported by the eBook format and eReaders. The standard text size is 12 point size font for body text and 14-18 point for chapter titles. Another reason to use Times New Roman: Any special symbols may not convert properly to ePub when using other fonts.

4) The publisher’s name and address, date of publication, copyright info, ISBN number, and other credits should be included on the first two pages of the document.

5) 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. Do all image resizing outside of the document with image editing software, then reinsert them in your document.

6) If you pay a company to format your manuscript to an ebook, check to make sure of their specs. In general, you will need to 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.

7) All images (except full-page images) should be set in-line with text. Do not wrap text around images.

8) Tables, sidebars, and inserts will not display properly in ePub format, so extract this type of content and list as ordinary text. Of course, you can always included them as images.

9) 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.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Always chock-full of useful info, you are 😀 Thanks, Kathy!


  2. Such wonderful tips. Thanks Kathy. 🙂


  3. Kathy, this was super helpful!! Thank you! And thank you for that fantastic workshop on marketing at the NJ SCBWI. You are amazing!


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