Skip to main content

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, or working with clients at He believes strongly in authorship through entrepreneurship and uses his skills to help authors succeed in the digital age. 

Popular posts from this blog

El Deafo | Cece Bell

And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel/Memoir. Number of Pages: 233. Perspective: First. Location: Virginia.
This graphic novel follows the author throughout her time as a young girl in the 1970s and her experiences losing her hearing from meningitis at the age of four. She learns how to make friends and accept herself. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This was a beautiful story about someone who copes with becoming deaf. I took an American Sign Language course in college and we talked a lot about the deaf culture; it was interesting to learn about some of the daily challenges that someone who is deaf faces. This book explains those challenges in a way that children can understand and relate to. We have come a long way with accessibility since the 70s, but we all could use …

5 Reasons Why I Hate Book Series

Many of you know that I hate book series. If at all possible, I try to stick to stand-alone novels. A few rare trilogies land on my bookshelf and an even rarer few get a good review. Here are my reasons why I hate trilogies: 

1. The first book is perfected.

Authors have an unlimited amount of time to perfect the first book. They may have many rewrites and rejections before it is finally accepted by a publisher. By that point, the book should be pristine. The author may not have a deal with the publisher for a series yet, but once the first book proves its worth, the publisher will definitely ask for the rest of the series. Depending on the popularity, the author will be forced to get the next books out quickly—unless you are George R.R. Martin. There will be less time to perfect the story and it will be sent out without many rewrites, as to appease the fan-base. As a result, the rest of the series suffers in comparison to the debut. 
2. The waiting is torture. 

Part of the reason why the …

Hex | Thomas Olde Heuvelt

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay 'til death. Whoever settles, never leaves."
Genre: Horror. Number of Pages: 384. Perspective: Third. Location: New York.
Hex is the story of a town that is cursed by a witch with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in houses and just stands and stares for days at a time. The people of the town can never leave and are plagued by the fear of what would happen if the witch’s eyes and mouth are ever opened. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This book started off kind of funny and light-hearted. The middle starts to get a little creepy and suspenseful, and the end is downright strange. It was an enjoyable book, but you’ll have to wait a long time for the climax. The bulk of the action happens in the last 50 pages. For me, that felt rushed and left me with more questions than answers. 
Hex was originally written in Dutch and translated to English. With that in mind, I am utterly impressed with the flow and readability of the story. Th…

Ten Things Writers Need to Know

This is a guest post by Heather Weidner. I was asked recently what advice I would give to someone who wants to write. Here’s my list…
1. Read. Read. Read. 

Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn about the genre. Learn about techniques and style. See what works and what doesn't.

2. Seek out writers like you. 

Find a writers' group. I write mysteries, so Sisters in Crime was a perfect fit. I am also in the online community, Guppies. They have tons of resources and advice. And they are so supportive and helpful. 
3. There are a lot of books out there on the craft of writing. 
My favorite is Stephen King's On Writing. Invest in books that help you. But use your library too. FREE is good.

4. If you are serious about writing, find a critique group. 
It's an investment in your time to read the submissions. Make sure that the feedback is helpful. Critiques need to be constructive and not personal. My critique group specializes in mysteries and crime fiction. And that works fo…

5 Things I Would Have Done Differently Before Self-Publishing

This is a guest post by Mark Benjamin. 
About three-quarters into 2015, I decided to self-publish. My novel was stuck in that phase of completed / nearly done, and I had been agent shopping for three years prior, and the brief thought (if at all) of self-publishing had been pushed out of my mind by the traditional method. That is, until my wife, Lucy, sent me the Amazon Kindle Publishing link. At the end of May 2016, my debut novel, A CHANGE OF HEART, Book One of The Royal Blood Chronicles, was released, an urban fantasy novel bringing back vampires from whence I first found them, cue in Lestat and Louis. There was a lot to learn throughout the entire self-publishing process; emotions ranging from doubt to hope, anxiety to determination, fear to belief. I would like to share my experiences, then and now, and how I would have done things differently.

1. Just Do It
Those three words are the beginning and end of it all. The story hit me and I ran with it. I could have waited until I thought …

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required