Having taken a few books through the process of converting to the ePub format, I thought I would compile a list of things you should do to ensure your manuscript passes ePub validation. There is a great ePub file validator here http://validator.idpf.org/ but you will want to do all you can ahead of time to be sure your text is ready to be converted to ePub and can pass the validation.
Here are five typography tips that will help you successfully pass validation:
- Use styles for ALL formatting (both character and paragraph).
If you have only a few styles in use, then naming the styles is pretty straight forward (for example, paragraph styles could be named Heading1, Heading2, normal; and character styles could be NormalItalics, NormalBold, NormalBoldItalics). I have written books that have many levels of formatting and have used numbering upfront to keep things organized for me. (This is not necessary for the ePub format.)
- Use only one space (not two spaces) between sentences within a paragraph. The use of two spaces came into practice with the use of the typewriter, but was never considered proper typesetting.
- Do not hit the spacebar after the last sentence of paragraphs. After the punctuation at the end of the sentence, hit “enter”. This can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of as you may decide to break up the paragraphs differently after writing which can leave stray spaces. When all editing is done, go back through the document to eliminate any stray spaces. A script in InDesign or a well designed “Find and Replace” in Microsoft Word can help enormously with this.
- The gap or space between paragraphs is achieved through paragraph styles. Do NOT hit “enter” twice. There should not be any double or triple “Enters” in a row in your document. All space before or after paragraphs and titles is done strictly with styles.
- Do not insert page breaks to start new chapters. A particular style can be identified as the start of a new chapter (new page) when generating the ePub file. I always use Heading1 as my Chapter Title. If I want to use that same style for another purpose but not have a new chapter, I would create a duplicate style with a different name. I can then tell InDesign to start a new chapter with Heading1 and use the other style for formatting other than starting the new chapter.
Hope this helps. If you are really struggling, shoot me an email. I provide consulting services in converting to ePub format and I might have time to help out.
Share your thoughts!