Ebook formatting - what's your preference

40 replies
I would have done a poll, but I'm not familiar enough with the
forum to know how to do it.

I'd like some opinions on the most readable ebook format. I am
currently creating one, and I want it to be easy on the eyes.

When you're reading or writing an ebook, what fonts/sizes do
you tend to use?

I was thinking of doing mine in size 16 Times New Roman font
and I've been trying to figure out if I should single space or
1.5 space it. I don't want to be making it look like a bigger
book with the big fonts and spacing, but I do want it to be
reader friendly.

Any suggestions or experienced opinions?

Thanks!
Tyson
#ebook #formatting #preference
  • Profile picture of the author artsub
    Normally Times new roman is the standard font with 12 size.
    But I normally prefer Arial font with 10 / 11 size. More than this size looks too much bigger font and doesn't looks nice to the eyes.
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  • Profile picture of the author bp.simms
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    • Profile picture of the author Tyson Faulkner
      artsub - Isn't 11/12 font size a little too small for something
      being read on the computer? I know not everyone who
      surfs the net has the best eye sight so I don't want anyone
      to be strained trying to read my book.

      bp.simms - What would you consider as a font size
      that's "too big" and how much space would you say
      is excessive? Like I said in the first post I'm not trying to
      "inflate" my ebook (I kind of like the short ones) I just
      want it to be very reader friendly.

      Has any of you had a bad experience with an ebook that
      you just couldn't read because it had bad spacing/fonts
      in it?

      Thanks for the help,
      Tyson
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  • Profile picture of the author TimGross
    It definitely matters whether an ebook/PDF is being created to be read from a computer screen or printed out. (Obviously, you can't force a buyer to print it out, but you can highly recommend it.

    For reading on-screen, Arial 14 point is my preference.

    For something printable, Times-Roman 12 point looks good.

    Either way, break up the text with sub-headlines etc, to make it easy to see what each section is about.

    Single-space or 1.5 space both work... As far as readability, keep in mind that the reader can magnify a PDF over 100% to make text bigger if they feel it's too small, so the thing to avoid is not having the width of the page too wide in the first place, otherwise when it's magnified it won't fit in an small monitor's screen.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    I like courier because I want it to feel kind of "old school" sometimes
    and like it's hot off the typewriter. I know it's a little silly. I just
    like the old look.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tyson Faulkner
      Thanks for the replies guys, I got my ebook done and ended
      up doing 16 pt times new roman, with single spacing.

      After reading it over I thought the 1.5 spacing seemed to
      spread it out too much. The 16 pt font doesn't seem overly
      large to me, though I could play with making it 14 and see
      how it looks.

      I tried keeping the paragraphs nice and short. Personally,
      I get intimidated by blocks of text and usually scroll down,
      which is definitely not what I'm going for!

      Now I never thought about changing it to courier font, I might just
      have to test it to see how it looks. Interesting choice.

      Thanks,
      Tyson
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  • Profile picture of the author Lambert Klein
    I use arial 14. Single space but with short paragraphs and plenty of white space. I use left/right margins of 1.25.

    May use courier for notes or testimonials if needed.

    This makes it easy to read, especially for us over 50 crowd. LOL

    Lambert
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    • Profile picture of the author ebooks4u
      Arial, Courier and Tahoma are the fonts I use for all my (PDF) Ebooks.
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      • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
        One thing I would suggest (based on real feedback) is not to use elements on your pages like a large repeating header image or a coloured background.

        Why?

        Because it uses too much expensive ink when printed out!

        Cheers,

        Neil
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        • Profile picture of the author Baystreet
          Originally Posted by Neil Morgan View Post

          One thing I would suggest (based on real feedback) is not to use elements on your pages like a large repeating header image or a coloured background.
          Even worse is an otherwise great Public Domain WSO ebook I purchased where every page was on a parchment graphic.
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          • Profile picture of the author Haltingpoint
            Originally Posted by Baystreet View Post

            Even worse is an otherwise great Public Domain WSO ebook I purchased where every page was on a parchment graphic.
            Its funny, I'm in the (very slow process) of creating my first product and it has a somewhat fantasy-based theme to it. I was considering doing the ebook w/ a parchment background and then I realized:

            "Crap, if people want to print this PDF they'll kill me because of all the ink they'll use!"
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            • Profile picture of the author Baystreet
              Originally Posted by Haltingpoint View Post

              Its funny, I'm in the (very slow process) of creating my first product and it has a somewhat fantasy-based theme to it. I was considering doing the ebook w/ a parchment background and then I realized:

              "Crap, if people want to print this PDF they'll kill me because of all the ink they'll use!"
              If it is something that you think would really benefit from the parchment background or other graphics then go ahead and do it. You could then include a plain text version for printing or a link where the customer could request the plain text version if you don't think many will want to print it out.
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              • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
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                • Profile picture of the author Tyson Faulkner
                  Hey Tina that's a pretty good idea.

                  Would take about 2 minutes to do too.

                  I think I'll do this:

                  Printable file in times-roman 12pt
                  Other in Arial 14 pt

                  I've noticed that I much prefer reading
                  times-roman on something that is printed.

                  Arial looks so blocky.

                  Thanks for the idea
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                • Profile picture of the author IMChick
                  Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

                  Just reading this thread made me think about how easy it would be to offer two versions in your zip file - one for on screen reading and one for printing. Would take maybe five minutes to do, if that and I would imagine customers would be impressed by your thoughtfulness.

                  Tina G
                  You know, that's a great idea. Would you bundle the two formats in the zip together so the download is complete at the point of purchase, either in separate files or a printer optimized and reader optimized tab on the pdf itself?

                  I've seen this as an upsell from some big names, but I can't exactly remember how it went -- something like 'click here for the free report, pay X for the report in Y format'

                  I think that any way that you can use the same content and give the customer choices with their purchase is a good idea. I personally hate video, and will not buy a product without a transcript. On the other hand, audio goes with me on my commute. Printable PDF's are now in this category.
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                  • Profile picture of the author spendsmarter
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                    • Profile picture of the author sladezer0
                      I think this question fits into this thread's theme - What are some of the best methods for creating an ebook to begin with? Example, from a word processor like Word and convert to HTML or PDF? I also see some compilers out there, zip & even .exe files?

                      Thanks!
                      Jason
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                      • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
                        Jason - standard is Word to PDF using any number of pdf conversion tools ranging from Adobe Acrobat editor through to scripts that will convert Word format to PDF using print functions.

                        Another option is to format your product in the word processor in Open Office which has a built-in function to convert to PDF.

                        Stay away from html and exe compilers - too many issues.

                        Jeff
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              • Profile picture of the author Haltingpoint
                Originally Posted by Baystreet View Post

                If it is something that you think would really benefit from the parchment background or other graphics then go ahead and do it. You could then include a plain text version for printing or a link where the customer could request the plain text version if you don't think many will want to print it out.
                That's a fantastic workaround--nice thinking. Of course now I need to decide whether it would TRULY benefit from a parchment background, because getting that to look nice w/ all the other images will be a PITA.
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  • Profile picture of the author Haltingpoint
    One tip I learned is to use serif fonts if you expect your work to be read in print, and sans-serif fonts if it is going to be read on a backlit screen (like a computer monitor).

    The reason being that your eyes have a hard time making out the little serifs (the accents on the letters) when it is backlit and it causes eye strain. When you are in print, many studies have shown that serif fonts are much better for recall/retention (upwards of 60% better) than sans-serif in things like direct mail.

    If you want to get into the science of it, here's a GREAT scientific look at various metrics associated with various aspects of fonts.

    Readability of Body Text in Computer Mediated Communication: Effects of Type Family, Size and Face
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    • Profile picture of the author Tyson Faulkner
      That's a great tip Neil, I have actually seen a few ebooks with
      a header style graphic set in it, and was thinking about doing
      it with mine. Now I'm definitely not going to. I never thought
      about it before but like everyone else I hate printing things
      out with giant repetitive graphics!

      That's an interesting article. It's amazing what tests and surveys
      different parties have done over the years. Though after
      reading it, it seems they didn't learn much. It did mention
      that 14 pt font was preferred by readers though. And seeing
      all the Arial 14pt font votes in this thread is changing my mind
      a bit.

      Thanks for the feedback!
      -Tyson
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  • Profile picture of the author ajal
    the problem u are facing now is not new to most internet marketers like myself I have faced it when i was writing my own first ebook. After lots of research from people i discovered that because of eye defect possessed by many people, they prefer 13 font size Times new roman with 1.5 spacing. try it out, and I know u will love it and will definetly thank me for this post.
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  • Profile picture of the author twannahiga
    Agree on formating, I think normally you would need at least a size 14 font to punctuate the text a little to get people to read it more easily. When people can read your information more easily, it makes it easier to digest! :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author gharold
    I was about to offer the same comment as Tina G.
    Page aesthetics increase the perceived value of the e-book.
    On the security tab of Acrobat you can opt for low resolution print output.
    Or as Tina G. recommends...offer a printer friendly version.
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  • Profile picture of the author cnailor
    Something I generally do when I know my eBook will be read online, is flip the orientation to Landscape and set the properties to open to full screen. And even though I use a 12 point font, when it expands onscreen, it appears bigger to those that read online, and the right size for those that print it out.

    Because it is so easily readable online, and turned *funny* when printed, it gets my book noticed both online and offline.

    Just a suggestion.
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  • Profile picture of the author knowmyrole
    Go for Openoffice to pdf.
    Has inbuilt security functions to protect the ebook.
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  • Profile picture of the author heidigroleau
    Would agree openoffice is probably the best FREE source for creating pdf files, it has all of the best features of microsoft word with the ability to create pdf files from scratch. If I'm writing a pdf report, I tend to use the arial font as its easy to read in the 12 size, I think that too big a font can put to much extra space in your report or ebook, making people think that your book is "padded out" to an unnecessary length. just my two cents!
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  • Profile picture of the author Lambert Klein
    Just recently purchase a report with text so small I almost asked for a refund. Since it was short, I just got my magnifier glass out instead...

    Lambert
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  • Profile picture of the author Ghalt
    PDF is the best way because it's the most commonly readable to most platforms.

    Arial 14 for on-screen.

    12-pt for printed.
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    • Profile picture of the author keyaziz
      I used georgia, 12 and also changed the colour of the text to a grey. This is what I was advised to do.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tyson Faulkner
        I'm not an expert by any means - yet!

        But I would advise against changing your font color to
        gray. I believe that black on a white background has
        been tested and proven to be the easiest color combination
        on the eyes.

        The closer you make the background and the text color
        the harder it will be to read it.

        If I knew how to code html into my posts I would give you
        an example. You can try it in a word doc though and see
        compare the two.

        -Tyson
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      • Profile picture of the author Lambert Klein
        Originally Posted by keyaziz View Post

        I used georgia, 12 and also changed the colour of the text to a grey. This is what I was advised to do.
        I think black text on white is best. Why make it harder to read?

        Sometimes simple is better...

        Lambert
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  • Profile picture of the author Tracy Yates
    I actually do some ebook formatting on the side as a service and I can tell you that mainly the fonts asked for by my clients are Times New Roman @ 13 or 14 and Arial or Tahoma @ 12 to 14.

    The latter of the two I believe would be best for online reading, or those that read ebooks directly from their computers, and the first option for those wanting a 'print out' option.

    I agree with the other comments that if you decide to use a background image for your ebook, or a header/footer graphic, then you should also offer a 'printer friendly' version of your ebook minus the graphics to your customers.

    And also, I strictly use OpenOffice Writer to create my ebooks, and the formatting I do for my clients. It's a free option and the PDF creation 'one click' process is terrific.

    Just my 2 cents


    Tracy
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  • Profile picture of the author Tracy Yates
    I think you could get away with using gray if it were a deeper shade closer to black, but not completely black. Such as #333333 or 80% gray. That might be all right.

    Tracy
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    • Profile picture of the author Haltingpoint
      Originally Posted by Tracy Yates View Post

      I think you could get away with using gray if it were a deeper shade closer to black, but not completely black. Such as #333333 or 80% gray. That might be all right.

      Tracy
      I've seen instances where a very dark gray can be used successfully, but those instances are few and far between. If you are going to go with a dark gray, you might as well just go black to be safe.

      For example, at my day job I made a sell sheet that used a dark gray font and it looked AWESOME on screen. However when we printed it you couldn't even read it because it was so faint. And of course it will look different on every printer.

      So your best bet is to just go with black to be safe.
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  • Profile picture of the author demeter
    I think that a book should look like a book--anything else is distracting to the eye and mind and gets in the way of absorbing the info. That is TNR 10-12pt, fully justified, single-spaced.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tracy Yates
    Sure, I'm not questioning that using the 'industry standard' of black text on a white background isn't the best way to go, just that it is possible, for the purposes of a 'read online' type ebook to have a darker gray tinted font.

    And that it can look decent.


    Tracy
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    • Profile picture of the author Haltingpoint
      Originally Posted by Tracy Yates View Post

      Sure, I'm not questioning that using the 'industry standard' of black text on a white background isn't the best way to go, just that it is possible, for the purposes of a 'read online' type ebook to have a darker gray tinted font.

      And that it can look decent.
      Correct. As I mentioned in my post, the dark gray looked fantastic on-screen.

      That said, you say "read online" type ebook. Unfortunately, what you may think of as something that will only be read online, someone else might think "hey, I'd rather read this on the train on the way to work" and print it out--thus leaving you with the situation I mentioned above and an unreadable ebook.

      That's why I really like the suggestion someone gave of having a graphically pleasing version that may have dark gray text for example, but "made for printing" version as well.
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      • Profile picture of the author JLRuffin
        You do make an important point. My understanding is that 14 point is readable for most people these days. However, one way to mix it up a little is to use the following fonts which are all pleasing to the eye.

        POPULAR FONTS:
        a. (Helvetica, Arial)
        b.(Verdana)
        c.(Georgia)
        d.(Times News Roman)
        :
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