Proofing Your Ebook Files
Your ebook comes in two file types: an EPUB 3.2 file compatible with the majority of e-reading devices and apps (including iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play) and a KPF file for Kindle devices and apps.
The easiest way to proof the EPUB file is to either open it in iBooks on any Apple device or in the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions on PC.
To preview your KPF file, you’ll need to download the Kindle Previewer software (https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000765261). This software will allow you to view how the book will look on various Kindle apps and devices by changing the device type in the preview options found in the top left corner.
Before you proof the files, here are some important things to note about ebooks:
- Unlike print books in which typefaces and font sizes are fixed, ebooks give readers the choice or whichever typefaces and font sizes the app or device allows. Although it is possible to code an ebook to include the same typefaces used in a print book, there are no guarantees the app or device will use them. In fact, many will suppress this option and use only the typefaces native to the device or app. For this reason, it’s best not to get hung up on if a heading or portion of text doesn’t look just like it does in the print book. It often can’t. What matters is that headers are clearly headers and that text offset from the main body text in some way is still visually distinct, regardless of the typeface.
- 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.
- 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 smartphones) 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.
- 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. This is often unavoidable. What matters is that the image itself is viewable on the screen.
- Most ebooks will have two hyperlinked navigation aids that each function as a table of contents. These are often referred to as the logical TOC and the HTML TOC. The logical TOC is required by most ebook stores. This aid is typically displayed in a window to the side of the main text or in a pop-up window when you click on a button at the top of a page. It typically links to the start of each chapter. The visual appearance of the logical TOC is defined by the app or device you are using. The HTML TOC is placed within the book and closely mirrors the TOC in the print version of the same book. This TOC is optional but strongly recommended, especially for nonfiction books. This TOC can be formatted to match the appearance of the rest of the ebook text. It can also contain more (or fewer) links than the logical TOC. For example, the logical TOC might have links to just the start of each chapter, but the HTML TOC can link to all levels of subheads within the chapter.
- Footnotes and endnotes are rendered differently by different apps and devices. For example, iBooks displays notes in pop-up windows when you click on a note reference in the text, but other devices may take you to a section in the book where the notes are listed. Since the app and device developers are the ones who decide how notes are displayed, we don’t have much control here. The important thing to check for while receiving your files is that all notes are present and correct, however they are rendered.
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, 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 us are to either send a screenshot 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.