How to Format an Ebook the Simple Way

Word iconby C. K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

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:

Quick-Steps

  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.

Scrivener Cheat Sheet (Downloadable)

Scrivener

by C.K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

Scrivener is a wonderful tool for writing and producing book-length works. It allows you to

  • move chunks of text around with ease
  • organize research notes, references, and even notes to yourself—in the same project file
  • convert your book to ebook, web, and print formats

Help for Beginners

When you first open the program, though, it can seem a little confusing. This downloadable cheat sheet will help you to begin using Scrivener right now. Print it and stick it on the wall next to your computer.

You'll notice that I've listed the commands associated with the more common "writing moves" and grouped items by stages of the writing process.

Did I miss a Scrivener move in my cheat sheet? Feel free to leave a comment below.

A version of this post was originally posted at the Beyond Paper blog.

Image by Alan Reyes

How to Design A Book Cover in Word

Word icon

By C.K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

Did you know you can design an ebook cover in Word? I'd have hardly believed it unless I'd tried it myself. Until now, I've been limping rather awkwardly in GIMP. But creating a cover in Word has blown things wide open for me.

Idea to Ebook cover31Jan14_01

Graphic designer Derek Murphy wrote a tutorial that helped me to create the cover on the left. I am not a designer, but I learned an awful lot about design principles just by following his steps. He's a great teacher.

I entered the cover in the Ebook Cover Design Awards competition on the Book Designer blog. You can see the results here. (You'll need to scroll down three-quarters of the way to see the cover.) Not bad for the first time out.

ECDA-GoldStar-Mar-2014

If you have Word 2010 on your computer, and you'd like to try your hand at designing a cover just for fun, give Derek's tutorial a try. It's so much easier than designing a cover in GIMP.

Cover Design Quick Steps

  1. Follow Derek Murphy's tutorial to the letter.

  2. Convert your Word cover into a JPG or PNG using one of these tools.

Read more at the Beyond Paper blog.