You don’t need fancy software to create an e-book, especially if you want to keep it simple and straightforward. It’s possible to convert a Word document into an Adobe Acrobat PDF, the most common e-book format. This can be read online or in mobile devices. While it won’t have a lot of photos (you need a good layout program for that), it gets your message across. Here is an easy guide to creating an e-book, plus formatting tips to help make it an enjoyable read.
Customizing the page size and margins
Microsoft Word’s default size is 8.5 x 11 inches, the size of a short bond paper. But e-books are usually 5.5 x 8.5 inches (some are 5 x 7 and 6 x 9). To adjust the size, go to the Page Setup menu.
Then set the margins, using the Format menu. Allot at least .75 inches all around the document. If you plan to include a header or a footer, increase the top or bottom margins. Also remove the Mirror Margins option, since e-books will not be viewed as a spread (with left or right pages) but as single pages.
Tips on making headers or footers
Headers and footers allow you to put the title of the book and the page number. That’s very useful for your readers (especially if you have a long e-book). Do adjust the fonts of the headers and footers: make it smaller, or make it a lighter color or italicize it. This helps distinguish it from the main book (or what publishers call ‘the body text’). If you have a very long title, you can choose a shorter version for your header or footer. If you have a very long e-book, you can also change the headers to reflect the chapter title instead.
Pick a readable font
Don’t make your readers squint! Chose at least 11 points for font size, and stick to standard fonts that can be found in all devices. Good choices include Times and Times new Roman, Century, and Palatino. These fonts are also generally easier to read than non-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica. Those two fonts are better for shorter text, such as chapter titles or the crossheads (mini-titles that introduce a new section within a chapter, such as the one we used in this blog post: ‘Pick a readable font.’
Tips for adding photos
Adding too many photos make a file very large, and can make it difficult to control your layout. So, it’s better to have just a few but very helpful and beautiful photos. Save them in .gif or .jpg format, and crop out any unnecessary clutter or background. Using lower-resolution photos can help manage the size of the file.
Add technical pages
These include title page, copyright page (with your name, title of the book, etc). You don’t need an ISBN number unless you want to sell a hardcopy of the book. For simplicity start numbering your pages starting with the title page. At the end of the book you may want to include information on you, and a way for readers to contact you.
Save in PDF
Go to the Print menu and select the ‘General’ pull down menu. Choose ‘Save as File’ and select Acrobat PDF from the array of file types. Then, the ‘Destination’ should be ‘File.’
Compress your e-book into a smaller version so it’s easier to download and share. Read our article on marketing your e-book to help spread awareness and attract readers.
Photo from new-www.allyou.com