Making your Own Ebook Part Seven – Finishing the Framework for the book

Now that you know how to set up the basics we can go through setting up the rest of the framework for the main pages so that you have a complete basic template to use for your E-books. Once you have a template all you will need to do is to replace the text and save under a different name and you are nearly ready to go.

Last time, we put in place one Chapter header and a Table of Contents. The TOC was set to display anything formatted with the Heading 1 Style. The next step is to put in place a few more chapters and then we can put in the “Front Matter” of Titles, Copyright page, etc. and do some final formatting before creating the Ebook.

If you are planning to do a number of books then you can save the final “blank” document as a template and use it as the basis for more books.

Adding new chapters

You can use Ctrl-Alt-Shift (combined) + “S” key to make the Styles list appear on the right of the page.

Now that we have the chapter style set up (Heading 1) it is easy to create new chapters. Simply type the chapter name in a new paragraph at the end of the previous chapter and click on the “Heading 1” style to format the title. Remember to keep the cursor in the same line as the chapter title, or you can always highlight the title with the cursor before clicking on Heading 1” This will format the heading and force it to start on a new page.

In my test file I have created 4 chapters and before I format the headings it looks like this…

Word 12 - Adding New Chapters 1Then I click the mouse in the first of the new chapter headings…

Word 13 - Adding New Chapters 2

 I then complete the rest of the Chapter headings and can update the table of contents. Before updating I have:

Word 14 - Adding New Chapters 3

Update the Table of content

Now we can update the Table of Contents

Word 15 - Update TOC

Add the rest of the pages

Now we can add the Title page, Copyright page and Acknowledgements page to complete the basic framework. As you probably don’t want these page headings to appear in your Table of contents it is best to set up a couple of additional styles. And remember that you can always add these manually to the TOC later if you change your mind.

The first thing I want is the Title page and in this example we will put in the Title, a Subtitle and the Author’s name:

There are built-in styles in Word for “Title” and “Subtitle” but if you don’t like these it is easy to modify these to create a style to suit YOUR taste – but stick to the basic font types and only mess with the size and spacing. In my test file I have modified “Title” and “Subtitle” and have added a new Style, “Author”.

Lets’s look at the process for setting up The Main Title. You can use the same process to set up the other styles once you know the routine.

Open your word file and go to the first page. Type in your “Title, Subtitle and Author’s name so that they appear as three separate lines. In case they have appeared in another style, and you need to reset them, use the mouse to highlight the three lines and click on “Clear all” at the top of your styles list. This will set them all to “Normal”.

Word 16 - Clear All

 Left click in the title of the book than Right click on the style “Title” and click on “Modify”. The built-in “Title” style in Word has an underline and is “Left Aligned”. Also, it has little space above & below so I went into “Modify/Format/Paragraph” set the Alignment to Centered and the spacing to 30 above and 30 below.

Word 19 - Modify Title Style 1

 I don’t want the underline so I went into “Modify/Format/Borders” and clicked on “None” to remove the border. Then Click on OK, and again to exit the dialogue box. We now have the title in a reasonable format.

If you have a subtitle for the book you can use the built-in style also and then modify it. I used 16pt Arial, Centered, with 30 pt space below.

We don’t have a built in style for “Author” so I created a new style called “Author” and another called “Centered”.

To set up a new style, click on the first of the icons at the bottom of the styles list: If you hover the mouse pointer over the icon it will show “New Style”.

Word 17 - New style

 When you click on “New Style” you get the usual “Modify” dialogue and can alter as needed. For “Author” I made it 16pt, centred, with 30 pt above in the paragraph spacing.

Word 21 - Settings for Author style

Using the same technique I created another style called “centered” and the only change I made on that was to center the text. This is a useful style to have in the body of the book for things like quotes etc.. In this case I used it to center the “by” line on the title page. If you have been following along you should now have something that looks like this:

Word 22 - Title page

 You may want to add other info on the title page, such as the Publisher identity, so just use the same approach to create what you need. Don’t be concerned about trying to put the publisher name at the bottom of the page as that will not work. Just put some spacing above it using the “paragraph spacing” settings in the modify dialogue.

If you look at my example above you will see that all the “Formatting Marks” are shown and there are no Paragraph marks between the lines. ALL the spacing is achieved inside the style.

If the text does not look the way you want it to be you can always change it. Right-click the name in the Style gallery and choose “Modify”. Make your changes and click OK. All text formatted with that style will change automatically to match the new settings.

Note: One point to note here is that we have NOT used Heading styles on the Title Page. This is deliberate. If we used Heading styles for some of the lines these might appear in the Table of contents (TOC) and we don’t really want that. I recommend using Heading Styles only for items that you want to see in the TOC.

Copyright page

You can now use the same techniques to create a new page for the Copyright info. When you create the page it looks better to have it appear as a separate page so you need to edit the Paragraph style, Line & Page breaks, for the top line to tell it to start on a new page.

Contents Page Formatting

The same approach goes for the Contents page, Just format the top line to get it to start on a new page and make the Table of Contents Title “Bold”. At this stage it is best to leave the rest of the contents alone as the E-reader will format it to show the list as hyperlinks.

Acknowledgements and / or dedication, Foreword, Preface, Prologue

Same process here and if you want the item to appear in the TOC format the header for the page as “Header 1”.

You should now have a series of pages like this:

Word 23 - Testfile


When it comes to the body of the text in the manuscript, there are generally only two options that are used to indicate the start of a new paragraph.

  1. Indent the first line OR
  2. Don’t indent, but leave a space between paragraphs.

There is a tendency today to both indent AND create extra space between paragraphs and this can cause some confusion when paragraph spacing is used to indicate the beginning of a new train of thought, e.g. The best option is to choose either 1. or 2., but not both. Number 1. is the more traditional approach, and still works well so that is the approach I usually recommend.

To add to the confusion, the default behavior is different for Kindle and EPUB. The Kindle automatically indents each paragraph, and must be told when not to, and the EPUB default is leave space between paragraphs.

So how do you create a solution that works for both?

What I do is to set the “Normal” style to have an indent and create a new style, based on “Normal” called “No Indent” and simply set the indent to zero. Then at the beginnings of chapters and where there is a “Scene change” in the text I apply the “No Indent” Style.

If you plan to indent paragraphs this HAS to be done in the style definition, NOT WITH TABS or SPACES! Just go into the “Normal” style and modify it:

Next time

We will go through what has to be done if you have already written and formatted your text and need to fix it!

©DavidCronin 2015 The Ebook Doctor

The Ebook Doctor — Part Three – Anatomy of an Ebook

When you know what an Ebook and E-reader really are, and how they work together, you can learn how to create files that will work properly for your customer/reader.

This post is split into two Sections. The first covers the principles and some useful tools for examining Ebooks. In the in the second Section we will take a detailed look inside the Ebook file.

In later posts we will get to the decision point on the format to use, the problems commonly found in Ebooks, and how to avoid them. And finally a step-by-step guide on how to get a good result.

Inside the Ebook?

Looking at the Anatomy of an Ebook will give you a feel for the overall structure of an Ebook and will give you a better perspective on why formatting your manuscript in very specific ways will help your file pass the import tests for Amazon, and other big book retailers — and make it readable on a much wider range of devices.


Simply put, the Ebook is a ‘packaged’ website, and an E-reader is a hand-held web browser.

The Ebook contains a series of connected web pages which can be displayed using a browser. The pages are stored inside a “Package” or “Container” file: MOBI/AZW (Kindle) or EPUB being the most common.


Although there are many Ebook formats out there, in practical terms there are only three that you need to think about when deciding on the format for your Ebook. These are EPUB, MOBI and PDF.

If your book contains mainly narrative text, and has only a small amount of formatting, then EPUB and MOBI are the most important formats for you. If you are producing a non-fiction book which has a more complex structure then a PDF files may be a better option for presenting the book.

MOBI is the core structure used by Amazon for their Kindle Ebook files. And, since Amazon is probably the biggest bookseller in the world, we all think of creating a MOBI/Kindle compatible file first. In reality, most professional designers will create an EPUB file first and then, when that file is ‘clean’, and passes all tests, it is converted into a MOBI file before uploading to Amazon. This makes the open EPUB structure the most important to look at in detail.

I will come back to the PDF format later, as a special case, because there are some difficulties when marketing PDFs through Amazon.


The EPUB package is really a ZIP file and if you change its extension “.epub” to “.zip”, the EPUB file becomes a true ZIP file which can be unZipped so that you can look inside and edit the files directly.

If you work on a MAC you can rename to “.sit” and you can extract in the usual way.

Unfortunately, you cannot just Zip the files again and change the extension back to .epub to re-create the EPUB file. Some of the files in the EPUB package cannot be compressed and you need some special ‘Tools’ to make the new file properly.

If you need to extract and re-compress EPUB files one great utility which does this is called eCanCrusher, from This is FREE to download and use and is a simple application designed to convert an EPUB folder into a compressed .epub file or vice versa. It needs no installation. To convert, you just drag/drop an EPUB folder or an .epub file onto the eCanCrusher application icon.

There is a version for both Windows and MAC at this link:


An Amazon MOBI files is a more complicated beast because there may be multiple formats inside the same ‘Package’. Amazon’s compilers will add the original source file, usually an EPUB, to the database. If you have worked with both EPUB and MOBI files you may have noticed that a Kindle book can be quite large compared to the EPUB file of the same book.

Cracking open a Kindle file is more complex than working with an EPUB but if you need to do so you can use KindleUnpack (formerly MobiUnpack) to unpack and inspect the contents of DRM-free Kindle Books or MOBI files. You can then modify the content as needed and rebuild the original with Kindlegen.

The program is Open Source and you can get it here…

And you can get more info here…

…but beware, disassembling and re-assembling a Kindle file may not get you back to an acceptable file. Also, if files contain DRM (Digital Rights Management) you will not be able to open them in the same way. You can find out more about the MOBI structure here…

As an aside – surveys of sales of files with and without DRM show very clearly that files WITHOUT DRM sell much better. The complexity of managing files with DRM is off-putting and many customers avoid them for this reason.

We will come back to the details of editing inside an Ebook package later but at this point it is best to just note that it is really better to get the structure and formatting set up correctly inside your Word Processor so you don’t have to crack open the final package later.

Testing the converted files is another very important step and if we go through a couple of cycles of “Convert file – Test – Correct original –Convert again – Test again” until we get the right result there should be no need to crack open the Ebook file. More on this later too.

Converting from Word Processor to Ebook

The purpose of the Ebook format is to display the book content so that it looks like pages in a traditional printed book. When we create the book content on a Word Processor, the file that is saved is not always in a format that can be displayed in a web browser (Depends on your word processor) so it needs to be converted into the language used to create web pages ‑ HTML / XML / XHTML.

When you convert a Word Processor file into an Ebook the conversion translates the text into individual XHTML files for each chapter, or section, and puts together a list of those files and a set of instructions to the E-reader to tell it the order in which to display the pages.

We also need to tell the E-reader the formatting to use when the text is displayed. Websites use ‘Cascading Style Sheets’ (CSS) to describe the way the type should look on the screen — the font, the position of text on the screen and whether it is bold or italic, the spacing before and after paragraphs, etc. CSS also controls the position of graphic elements like photos and illustrations. All the formatting that you impose on your book text has to be translated to CSS file if it is to look the way you want it to, so you need to take a lot of care to make sure that the way you format your manuscript inside your Word Processor is easy to translate accurately to CSS.

The important point here is not that you have to learn how to write HTML or to create a CSS file, but to know that if you format your original text in specific ways the conversion process will work seamlessly and your final Ebook will look like you want it to, and will pass the acceptance tests of the Ebook retailers.


The Epub standards have been around for a long time and most of the devices in the market are designed to use the EPUB Version 2 standard, first published in 2007. However a new standard has been available since 2011, EPUB Version 3. V3 is quite sophisticated and can use fonts in a different way from the earlier versions but most Ebooks are still produced using Version 2 because of the vast number of older E-readers still in the market that only support V2 and do not support all the functions built into V3.

In the next instalment we take a more detailed look inside the Ebook.

©DavidCronin 2015

Other posts in the series.