A personalized and tasteful design is important for eBooks. Its lack can reduce the pleasure of reading or make the text completely illegible. This often applies to complex and decorative elements. The preference for such layouts comes from our experience with printed books. The above mentioned layouts are often chosen by beginners but sometimes also from experienced authors who would like the text to look nice. And why not after all? There are so many inspiring layouts out there. But often the peculiarities of the new medium are not taken into account.
One of the numerous advantages offered by eBooks is that they meet the needs of each reader – from the usual one to people with impaired reading or visual skills. The same text looks differently on each eReader, smartphone or tablet. This flexibility is possible only through a functional layout.
How to create an optimal solution for all readers?
It’s easy with the following guidelines:
Keep it simple!
Columns, text boxes, background colors and tables are a familiar design medium for magazines, newspapers and books. Yet they are not recommendable for eBook formatting since they lead to errors in many reading programs – they make the text almost illegible. For example, the text disappears on colorful background/pictures in the case of black and white displays or it becomes grey for color blind people.
Tables can be misleading: it makes sense to use tables for the structural presentation of content. If a table is misused for multi-column formatting or multilateral enumerations, this leads to incorrect implementation. For example, long tables are not fully displayed by many reading devices.
That’s why it is recommendable to use the KISS principle: simple layout is preferred over elaborate and rigid formatting!
Content accessible to everybody
Every reader should have access to the full content. For example, when a graphic contains relevant text for better content comprehension, this information might not be accessible for certain groups of people. Then the text cannot be read automatically and converted to Braille lettering, it would be shown in a bad quality by many eReaders which have a lower black/white resolution. That’s why it is better to use a picture only as an illustration and to add the important information in the text as well. This should be taken into account especially in the case of illustrated books for children where a lot is told through illustrations. The eBook should be created in a way that allows the content to be comprehended only through the use of text.
Useful Structure and Linking
The right formatting facilitates the quick access to content. A good structure is important especially for guidebooks and books of non-fiction. It is helpful when the reader is provided with an overview through an informative list of contents. Therefore, use specific chapters and subchapters. In addition to that, chapter allocation should be consistent and uniformed. Thus the reader can find the chapters and subchapters very quickly. Through the linking of the list of contents and the respective headlines, the reader can easily find the desired information. These links are ideal for endnotes since the reader can find the additional info with one click and then go back to the original text.
Would you like to learn more about optimal eBook formatting? You can find everything about it as well as a lot of tips for preparing your source file for eBook conversion on XinXii in the XinXii Style Guide.