Formatting faux pas

Bad formatting in ebooks drives me–and most other readers–crazy. Huge gaps and chunks of white space, varying sizes of fonts, weird line breaks, odd symbols cropping up. All that is distracting and makes it hard to read, and looks very unprofessional. Why would I think an author can write a coherent and sensible story if they (or the publisher they selected) can’t get some basic formatting right? And I do mean the simplest, most basic stuff. Why didn’t the author LOOK at the file before putting it actively for sale?

Unfortunately, self-pubbing also means bad print books out there. This article from Booklife lists Top Five DIY Book Layout Mistakes. If you self-pub in print, never, ever make these errors. And consider the applicability of a few of these for ebooks. Also remember that you must format differently for digital versus print–don’t take your ebook file and dump it into print.

  1. Blank right-hand pages. It’s okay on left at end of chapter in print books. (Blank pages not needed at all in ebooks.)
  2. Page numbering run wild. Do not put page numbers on front and back matter.
  3. Running heads running wild.
  4. Ragged composition. For most books, use justified text.
  5. Odd-numbered pages on the left. Not applicable to ebooks, but for print–left are even-numbered pages, right are odd-numbered.

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