View Full Version : Layout & Structure basics

12-15-2007, 03:28 PM
Hi gang,

An eBook newbie here and I woke up this morning -- wondering if there are good formatting guidelines (basic do and don't advice) that I can study and learn from.

The last few days I have been Googling 'layout" and "structure" and I have found 100's of ezine articles about EBook basics about niche, titles, selling and so forth -- but very little information that educates me on the pure layout basics.

Things like:
1) page size
2) Margins
3) A Good cross platform TOC
4) Fonts
5) Free flow content (screen/device resizing and holding a good looking layout)

How do I create the basic layout that converts best into other formats: (HTML LIT PDF.....?)

Iím helping a friend that is currently using MS Word to write his eBook.

I am currently reading the thread here

which has a lot of good points -- but I'm wondering if there is a resource that is more of a good summary of the do's and doníts.

If anyone could post a few good links, I would appreciate it. Just need links. I don't mind the study and reading --- I'm just trying to find a few resources instead of reading and filtering through thousands of pages to a few good ones. (ezine burnt out this morning)

Thanks for any tips and advice

12-16-2007, 12:03 PM
The problem with your question is that there really is no general answer. Much of it depends upon the specific reader. For example, consider page size. In eReader, you don't really have control; the software resizes the pages for the device, so the same file viewed on a Palm TX (320x480 screen) will have a different page size than on a TE2 (320x320). And Plucker, for example, doesn't use pages. The entire file is one long "page", much like a web page.

Margins can be set by the user on eReader Pro, but are fixed for eReader Standard and Plucker. The user can select his own fonts for eReader Pro and Plucker, but not the standard eReader.

And I'm sure that there are many more variations with other readers. (Those are the only ones I'm familiar with.)

As far as tools to create the books go, the best I can do to help would be a guide I wrote for creating eReader books, based on text or Word files. You'll find it at:^!19684~!

Hope that helps!

12-16-2007, 02:54 PM
0) Use HTML

1) Use of a reflowable format like HTML, means your format should not be tied to any particular page size.

2) Do not specify margins

3) Use an opf file to specify the TOC.

4) Don't embed fonts. Instead just specify font families (serif, sans-serif, monospace, cursive etc)

5) See (0)

General guidelines for how to use HTML:

I really recommend learning to write HTML directly.

a) Use CSS and the class attribute to give your document semantic structure

b) Use percentages and or em to specify lengths. Use logical names to specify font sizes.

c) Split you document up into one file per chapter/section

d) If you insist on using Word, save the HTML file using the save filtered HTML option

12-16-2007, 06:56 PM
DTM and kovidgoyal

Thank you for your replies and especially since they are newbie questions - you have probably answered many times before.

I'm taking your advice kovidgoyal and have already begun work in a HTML format.

I've even done a compiler test run to see what to expect for problems. before I have the whole project moved over. Images didn't come up, but that is probably a path thing.

Its the darn TOC that still has me baffled. And of course this first project has a long TOC, 18 Chapters wiht about 6 sub-sections in each chapter.

I haven't done an eBook yet, but working in HTML -- I can use the tricks I've learned building websites - that helps alot.

to avoid a long TOC, I'm thinking I need to have an expanding menu (TOC) click on the Chapter and the sections appear.

I'm using sbookbuilder, and I will have to test if it will allow me to run a script.

Taking a MS Word doc and making it 200 html pages will take a bit of time - but I am already working on a template, using tables instead of div - only cause I can work faster in tables - need to learn div better.

my two biggest things to learn qucikly --- are building a good TOC and how a HTML can move into other formats like LIT.

anyway I just wanted to thank eveyone for helping me to get this far. Lots of reading - but I feel I am making progress. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr TOC :-(

does anyone have TOC ideas or even beter tricks and tips?

thanks again all,

12-16-2007, 08:11 PM
Just use <a> elements to create an inline TOC. I would suggest avoiding the use of tables as not all HTML->ebook format converters work well with tables.

You can create LRF files with html2lrf, .mobi files with mobigen and .lit files with the lit plugin for word (you can import the HTML into word)

12-18-2007, 12:58 AM
once again thanks

I forgot to ask an important qestion - to which there has been debate over the phone here.

Page width and page length.

Using HTML I thought to make it fluid 100%. But I was told today, that there have been numberous studies and anything over 7 inches, does not hold the readers attention (visual overload).

Are there suggested standards? px -- inch -- %


12-18-2007, 07:57 AM
More than 7 inches probably isn't comfortable to read, but let the reader decide that. Browser windows are resizable, so everyone can use the size that works for them. Every once in a while I come across a website that has a fixed width that I consider to be too wide, and it drives me nuts.

If you're creating columns, set the width in percent. Otherwise, you can just leave it alone.

12-18-2007, 08:44 PM
This site talks about mobipocket format, you might find it useful.

Good luck.

12-19-2007, 01:50 AM
thanks gang :-)