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Free ways to check your ebook format

Free ways to check your ebook format 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote
by Nancy J Price

Although you can check your ebook formatting is correct after you upload it for publishing, it’s a lot simpler to make sure it’s all set up correctly before pressing that submit button.

If you have any changes to make, skipping repeated uploads to services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or to Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press will save you a lot of time, too.

Check out these two free programs that can help you make sure that your ebook’s format meets all the standards.

Calibre

calibre-ebook-programCalibre (seen at the right) is an open source “e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.”

Among its many features, Calibre features an excellent ebook viewer (can read multiple formats), and will even help you convert your book from one format to another — such as a Word document to .epub. Downloads available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

Website: Calibre-ebook.com
Price: Free

Sigil

Also open source, Sigil — subtitled “The EPUB Editor” — lets you look at your book in a few different ways, by selecting book view, code view or preview view. (You can even use their WYSIWYG editor in the book view, to make it very clear what you’re changing.) Want to make sure your code is okay? There’s an integrated FlightCrew EPUB validator to help you with that.

Website: code.google.com/p/sigil
Price: Free

Also consider

Putting the programs to work

When you’re proofing your ebooks, here are a few things you might want to check:

  1. Is the table of contents (TOC) displaying correctly — and do all of the links work? (Amazon calls this an “Active Table of Contents.”)
  2. Are your chapter numbers/titles properly formatted?
  3. Have you entered your metadata? (title, author name, genre, description.)
  4. Do you have page numbering enabled? (For most ebooks, you should not.)
  5. Do you have specific formatting or special characters? (For an ebook, you should typically not have anything other than bold, italic, and larger font sizes for chapter headings.)

For specific advice, check out the Kindle Simplified Formatting Guide, the NOOK Press ePub Formatting Guide, and Fixing Common Formatting Errors over at Smashwords.

Nancy co-founded SheKnows.com in 1999, and helped turn it into one of the top lifestyle websites for women. While serving as the site’s Executive Editor for twelve years, Nancy also helped launch five national newsstand magazines. A fourth-generation San Francisco Bay Area native, Nancy now lives in Arizona with her four kids and their menagerie. Dream of Time – her first novel – is available now, and you can see more from her online at nancyjprice.com.

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