Proofing Your Ebook Files

If you are new to ebooks, the most important thing to know upfront is that an ebook does not duplicate the look of a print book. It merely emulates it. A print book’s typefaces and font sizes are fixed on the page. An ebook’s typefaces and font sizes are fluid, chosen by the reader. This also goes for things like line spacing, page margins, and justification. Essentially, an ebook file can have a hundred different looks on a hundred different screens, whereas a print book looks the same from one book to the next. When proofing an ebook, you are primarily checking to see that all distinct elements in the print book are rendered as distinct elements in the ebook (i.e. headings in the print book show up as headings in the ebook, block quotes in the print book show up as block quotes in the ebook, lists in the print book show up as lists in the ebook, and so on). You are not checking to make sure they look exactly the same as they do in the print book.

Your ebook comes in two file types: an epub file and a mobi file. The mobi file is compatible with all Kindle devices and apps and is formatted for upload to the Kindle store through the Kindle Direct Publishing program.* The epub file is compatible with the majority of other devices and apps, including iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play. The epub file has been coded to meet the standards of EPUB 3.0 set by the International Digital Publishing Forum, the standards required by most ebook stores.

The easiest way to proof the mobi file is to download a Kindle reading app (https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=sv_kinh_3) or to load it directly to a Kindle device.

The easiest way to proof the ebup file is to either open it in iBooks on any Apple device or in the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions (http://www.adobe.com/solutions/ebook/digital-editions.html) on a PC.

Before you proof the files, here are some important things to note about ebooks:

  • Ebooks function similarly to websites. Ebook reading apps and devices function similarly to web browsers. Like a website, an ebook file is coded using HTML. Like web browsers, e-reading apps and devices vary in how they render the file’s coding. One might do a stellar job of displaying an embedded list (a list within a list) while another might not display it in such a way that it looks like an embedded list at all. If one app or device doesn’t display special formatting well while others do, the problem is likely with your e-reader’s settings, not with the ebook file.** Try playing with the settings to see if you can get a better result. If you can’t, it might be possible to adjust the file to compensate, but there are no guarantees.
  • Page breaks, line breaks, and chapter breaks are likely to fall in places they don’t in the print book. This is unavoidable. Each device or app has a different screen size, meaning some (like those on smart phones) will have fewer words per page and some (like those on tablets) will have more. These factors make it difficult to predict where breaks will fall.
  • Many people who read ebooks have strong preferences for how the text is justified (either fully justified [the text aligned on both the right and left margins] or left justified [the text aligned on the left margin and ragged along the right margin]). Most e-reading apps and devices default to fully justified text unless the option is disabled by the reader. To ensure the text is rendered as left justified when the option for fully justified text is disabled, the file itself needs to be coded as left justified. The ebooks I produce follow this standard. If you want to switch between fully justified and left justified text when proofing the book, play around with the justification or text settings of your app or device.
  • Image placement can also be problematic. Depending on the size of the screen the ebook is read on, the placement of an image might force an odd page break to occur. Again, this is often unavoidable. What matters is that the image itself is viewable on the screen.
  • E-reading apps and devices vary in how they render the same ebook file. One might do a stellar job of displaying an embedded list (a list within a list) while another might not display it in such a way that it looks like an embedded list at all. If one app or device doesn’t display special formatting well while others do, the problem is likely with your e-reader’s settings, not with the ebook file. Try playing with the settings to see if you can get a better result. If you can’t, it might be possible to adjust the file to compensate, but there are no guarantees.

When proofing your ebook, here’s what to look for in addition to any typos that might be lingering:

  • Make sure all hyperlinks in the table of contents go to the correct chapters.
  • Make sure all hyperlinks within the text are clickable and point to the correct website or email address.
  • If your book has footnotes or endnotes, make sure all note references are clickable and point to the correct note.
  • Check all images for clarity.

I have already gone through the above list on my own, but it’s still wise for you to do your own proofing for quality assurance.

If you find something that needs to be fixed, the two best ways to alert me are to either send me a screen shot of the problem or send me a description of the error referencing the chapter title and opening words of the paragraph that contains the error.

*If you need a mobi file for use on a non-Kindle device, I am happy to generate on for you.

**A common issue iBooks is that the app’s default setting is to fully justify text and add end-of-line hyphenation, which can create odd looking headings. If you find your headings aren’t displaying well, try turning these settings off.