How to Format an Ebook the Simple Way

Word iconby C. K. MacLeod


One of the easiest ways to format an ebook is to begin with the tool you probably already have—Microsoft Word. 

I know, I know. HTML & CSS enthusiasts and InDesign evangelists everywhere have just engaged in a collective shudder. 

But hear me out. Not all self-pubs have access to expensive design software or the time or interest for the required learning curve. Many of them do have access to Microsoft Word, though. Why not begin where they're at? That's what Joel Friedlander and Aaron Shepard have done. You're welcome to take it up with them. wink

So, having gotten that out of the way, if your manuscript is in Microsoft Word, there are several things you can do to ensure a smoother transition from Word to ebook. Your first step is to clean up your book in Word. Here's what you need to do:


  1. Remove headers, footers, and page numbers.
  2. Remove underlining in headings.
  3. Remove footnotes.
  4. Remove two spaces after end punctuation.
  5. Remove manual tabs and spaces.
  6. Remove text boxes.
  7. Remove tables formatted in Word. Reinsert them as images instead.
  8. Avoid using the list buttons on the ribbon to create bulleted and numbered lists.
  9. Choose photos over clip-art.
  10. Decide if you need an index.
  11. Use italics to emphasize words—but sparingly.

Read more at the Beyond Paper blog.

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