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Friday, September 4, 2015

Formatting: What It Is and Why It’s Important

This is a guest post by Andrew Purdum.
You know that getting your eBook formatted is important. It’s vital to having that polished, finished feeling that your readers deserve. Without proper formatting, you run into errors inside of your book. I’ve seen situations where text would skip pages and leave blank space. Other times, images would resize themselves and become distorted. Your e-reader is designed to interpret HTML and CSS coding, and if you don’t utilize that coding, there’s no telling what could happen when the customer opens up your book. But what exactly happens once you send off your manuscript and the formatter begins working on it? Well, a whole heck of a lot.  
Let's start with the basics. What does a well-formatted eBook include?
Metadata: The Metadata stores all the important data such as the cover, title, description, tags, author name, and relevant links. It's what the reader sees when they search for your book. Whenever you type in a book or author name into Amazon, it’s searching through the meta-data to find what you’re looking for. Many times this has to be manually added in on each individual publishing service. 
A Table of Contents (TOC): Your table of contents is interactive, meaning it contains links to every chapter in your book. It's a responsive table that not only shows where everything in your book is, it's also a transportation system. In Kindle, the TOC can be accessed with a single click no matter where you are in a book. All you need to do is click on the chapter that you want to head to,  and it automatically takes you there. 
The Cascading Style Sheet: Imagine your CSS as a recipe book. It contains instructions on how to style every aspect of your book. Need the heading to be a cursive font? No problem. What if the paragraphs are supposed to have an indent? Easy-peasy. For every aspect of your book, including certain types of images, there should be a registry within your CSS. All you have to do is insert the "style" property and it converts automatically! It's especially useful if you don't like the look of a certain aspect of the book. Instead of manually changing the font of every chapter heading, you can simply go into the CSS and change the font.  
HTML Coding: This is a big one. Your entire book is written in HTML coding. It's what websites are made out of. Ebooks use HTML to be responsive to what device they're being read on--iPhone, iPad, Surface Pro, Kindle--it doesn't matter. When your book is properly coded, it'll appear beautiful on every available device. Just make sure that the HTML is set with the CSS so that your styles will present themselves correctly. 
Those categories are the bulk of what make up the eBook formatting process. Everything else more or less falls into one of those categories. HTML coding and the CSS styling categories are the biggest, most time-intensive parts of formatting. They're what most people get stuck on.  If you're formatting your own book, I would highly suggest taking some time to learn how to utilize them to the fullest. This website is an excellent resource. Go get equipped with the knowledge you need to be successful! 
If you're writing a book right now and don't want to format it, or don't have time to do it, I'd like to help you get it to the world. I'm a professional ebook formatter, and I'm ready to help you shape your book into the masterpiece it is. Learn more about me, and when you're ready, let's get to work. 




Andrew Purdum is an entrepreneur, ebook formatter, and blogger. He can be found writing out articles and giving away advice at theauthorblog.com, or working with clients at purdumformatting.com. He believes strongly in authorship through entrepreneurship and uses his skills to help authors succeed in the digital age.