Formatting, conversion & file formats – a brief introduction

Formatting is the process of designing the look and feel of your book – including cover art work. Design work takes place once you have completed writing your book and immediately prior to sending it to the printers.

Typically design is undertaken with bespoke software applications. Once completed, the end product is an electronic file. If you require printed copies, you send this file to the printer. This is what is meant by print ready manuscript. While CyberBooks does not undertake any of the services associated with this activity, we can, if requested, suggest specialist book design service providers.

If you wish to produce a book suitable for reading on an eReader then the file has to be converted into a format suitable for eReaders. Which is what we at CyberBooks do.

There are two basic design formats for eBooks – flowable and fixed format.

Flowable formats are typically designed to respond to user-controlled settings of the eReader. For example, if a person wants to change the font to a larger size, the text will automatically reflow and the number of pages for the book will increase. Flowable formats are ideal for text intensive books – for example novels.

Fixed formats on the other hand give the designer complete control over what is on the screen at any given time. Fonts and text styles are maintained regardless of user controlled settings. Fixed formats are often ideal for conversion of printed books that are image-heavy, design-rich or contain highly complex layout with tables, side boxes, etc. Children’s books commonly use fixed formats.

Both formats can be converted into one of two file types – ePub and Mobi.

  • An EPUB file is the most widely accepted ebook format on the market. It’s the industry standard, used by Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Google for their ebook distribution platforms. ePub files have the extension .epub.
  • MOBI is the format that’s ideal for Amazon Kindle. Mobi files have the extension .mobi.