Three ebook formatting tips, part III

Ebooks follow different formatting rules than books printed on paper. That’s because a book made of ink on paper is a different platform for presenting information than a book made of digital bits on an electronic screen. Even though the same content (your book) is being presented, the platforms will need to be handled differently, just as certainly different production methods are used for a play presented on stage and on a television screen.

Because of that, there are a number of things you might do when formatting a paperback but never would do when constructing an ebook. Following are three tips about what to differently.

Despite being an electronic medium, currently ereaders can show only a few fonts. So if you use a fancy script font for a handwritten letter that appears in the story, your extra work will go to waste in an ebook. Further, readers select which font and font size (aka point size) that they want to read in, so even if your font choice is of one an ereader can handle, your extra work still may go for naught. Also, be aware that when uploading your ebook to a print on demand site, sometimes their software will not be able to read a nonstandard font, resulting in garbled text. In addition, only use one typeface family and ensure it’s a common one at that; this minimizes the chances of atypical characters – such as bullets in bulleted points – from appearing strange in the ebook. Finally, you generally only can use regular, boldface, italics and underlines with your fonts, so a strikethrough likely won’t show up on some ereaders, causing readers to be confused about what you meant.

Forced formatting
Turn off such functions as AutoCorrect, AutoFormat, Format As You Type, and Track Changes when you construct your ebook. Often ereaders will not be able to read the instructions that are created by these functions, meaning your text won’t appear as you wish it to in your ebook. Typos even can be introduced into your ebook by using functions such as AutoCorrect.

Always check your hyperlinks before uploading an ebook. A broken link only makes you as an author (and any service you may offer) appear unprofessional. Often the problem is a missing http:// in front of the web address entered in the hyperlink. Another good reason to check is that sometimes the hyperlink leads to the wrong page, which only confuses the reader.