The 7 Deadly Sins of ePublishing

This guest post is written by Dori Young of Your Office Guru.

If you publish online, you need to read this.

Online publications like e-books, e-zines and e-reports are now a standard method of delivery. They’re cost effective for you to publish and provide instant gratification for your reader.

That’s why business owners use ePublishing to get information about their products or services in front of prospective customers; often in the form of opt-in rewards.

However, there are special considerations when ePublishing that are often overlooked, resulting in a disappointing experience for your reader.

I call them the 7 deadly sins of ePublishing. Make sure you’re not committing any of them.

Sin #1: Assuming Your e-Publication will be Read Online

Just because a consumer prefers an electronic delivery method, doesn’t mean they will read your publication online. There are many people who prefer good old hard copy when reading publications. I have a hard time reading long documents online and I prefer to print out ebooks and articles.

One reason is that I often get inspired as I read and take notes, and your reader might too. Nothing is more frustrating than downloading an epublication where the author has given little thought to the hard copy reader.

Sin #2: Not Using Page Numbers

Think of page numbers as address numbers on houses. You may know what street you’re on, but without the house numbers, you don’t know which house you’re looking for. Also, the page definitions in .pdf readers can differ from the actual document (the screen shows you’re on page 8 but in the document, it’s really page 9) and can mean frustration for a reader looking only to print a specific page of your epublication.

Sin #3: Over Use of Images & Color

Visual appeal of epublications is extremely important, but epublishers can get a bit carried away and create epublications so graphically intensive that the “hard copy” consumer has to go out and buy new ink cartridges just to print it out.

ePublications full of graphics and images take longer to download and take up more storage space. At the very least, create a “print-friendly” version for your readers (see sin #4).

Sin #4: Not Creating a “Print-Friendly” Version

Simply converting your blog, webpage or document to a pdf does not alone make it “print-friendly.” A “print-friendly” epublication has 3 critical elements:

1) Fewer, smaller or, no graphics/images

2) Is in grayscale

3) Has single line spacing (see Sin #5).

Keep in mind print-friendly versions take less time to download, print ,take up less storage space and, let your readers know you respect their resources.

Sin #5: Using Wrong Line Spacing for “Print-Friendly” Versions

Most default line spacing for word processors is now 1.5. This is fine for short epublications or 1-2 page hard copy publications. But for any “print-friendly” epublication longer than two pages, use single spacing. The reason is that while the extra line spacing looks great, it causes your epublication to print on more pages.

Sin #6: Not Using Enough Formatting

Great content for epublications often comes from existing sources like a website or blog. While the content may be re-purposed, you still need to take your epublication’s formatting seriously and ensure it is formatted properly. Formatting serves several very important purposes such as:

• Grouping and categorizing information

• Directing the reader’s eye

• Emphasizing information

• Ordering information and/or processes

These are just a few of the roles of formatting, all which help to increase the readability and retention of your content.

Sin #7: Not Following Web Formatting Guidelines

Some print formatting techniques don’t translate well to epublications. Here are several guidelines to consider when creating your epublication:

1) Underlining shouldn’t be used in an epublication unless it is an actual hyperlink; this confuses readers

2) Italics and script type fonts should be avoided as they are hard to read online

3) Use san serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica for epublications, but for “print-friendly” versions, use serif fonts (like Times New Roman)

What “sins” have you committed when epublishing?

This post was written by Dori Young, an industry veteran who has 17 years of computer training and training development experience, is a Master Microsoft Office Specialist and, owner of Your Office Guru. Your Office Guru offers live, online, instructor-led Reboot Camps designed to help users become more productive using Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and Small Biz Reboot Camps that teach small businesses how to be more effective using technology.

{Top Image Credit}

Dori Young

Founder at Your Office Guru
Dori Young is an industry veteran who has 17 years of computer training and training development experience, is a Master Microsoft Office Specialist and, owner of Your Office Guru. Your Office Guru offers live, online, instructor-led Reboot Camps designed to help users become more productive using Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and Small Biz Reboot Camps that teach small businesses how to be more effective using technology.

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12 Comments

  1. Tamsen Horton

    Thank you for such great tips! I am working on content right now and will have these guidelines right next to me.

    Reply
  2. Mom @ Cube2Farm

    I totally agree! I really struggled with these issues when self-publishing my own book. The only solution I could come up with is rewriting the book for each media-type that I deployed to. For instance, I read all the guidelines for publishing on Kindle and then formatted my book specifically for Kindle and published it to Amazon. Then I perfected the formatting for the PDF version which I distributed as my preview copy for reviewers. Then I went out to createspace and finally re-formatted for the beautiful print version with black-and-white photos, graphics and tables. The print version is lovely to hold!

    Reply
  3. Michelle @ Find Your Balance

    I agree wholeheartedly! My solution for cookbooks is to absolutely include the 4 color big photos everyone wants to see of food, but then the last pages are 4×6 black and white recipe card sized versions of the same recipes. So you can view online in color or print out the last few pages of cards and save a few trees/ink cartridges.

    Reply
  4. Debra

    Thank you so much fro this article. While I am new to blogging and have not yet produced an ebook (yet!), I read many and you have hit the nail on the head with all my previous frustrations. I always print out at least the most meaty sections of an ebook or course to highlight and make notes on. So many of those sins conspire together – like the lack of page numbers in a 40 page document means the person who likes to print has to refer to the table of contents (hopefully numbered) to figure out what pages to print as they are reading through.

    A newbie question: Would you create 2 different versions for the online reader versus the printer/offline reader right down to what images are included?

    Reply
  5. Isabelle Ciacchella

    Indeed e-publishing is getting more and more used as it brings a lot of advantages from sharing, to reading pleasure, and getting your audience engage. There are differences though between an e-book, a e-brochure an an e-catalog. Here are some tips for an e-catalog, applicable for a e-brochure.

    Reply
  6. Krista

    Great Article! Thanks for the tips I am actually currently working on an Ebook and loved reading this article =)

    Reply

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