This is #4 in our 5 part series on how to easily self-publish your own books. The information in this series is taken from Self-Publishing Tips and Tricks. You can receive your free copy here.

Tips to format your ebook for publication

Change your Word document into an ebook

Once your book is edited and you’re ready to publish it, you will need to change your book into an ebook. An ebook is typically a reflowable document file, which means that the text will flow from page to page in an eReader. It will adapt to the reader’s preferences, and makes it possible for them to view the text in large or small fonts. Files such as ePub and .mobi are reflowable text files.

On the other end of the spectrum, a PDF is also an ebook, but each page is set “in stone.” It is a fixed page document. In other words, the contents of one page will permanently stay on that one page. You cannot resize the page. It is difficult to read a 8.5 x 11 PDF on an iPhone, especially if the text is small. That is why reflowable text files, such as ePubs, are preferable files for eReaders.

What file types do e-tailers accept?

KDP will accept an ePub, Word document, Kindle KPF, or an html file of your book.

Smashwords will accept an ePub, or a perfectly formatted Word doc (not docx).

All of the other e-tailers will only accept ePub files.

My book, “Book Formatting for Self-Publishers,” includes a section about how to format your Word doc for Kindle and Smashwords:

Smashwords also has a free document that explains how you can format your Word doc specifically for Smashwords:

Another option is to use Jutoh, which will also create beautifully formatted books. I now use Jutoh to create all ebooks.

Tip: If you use any of the above methods to make your ebook, do not include your book image in the beginning of your ebook file. Amazon and other e-tailers will add that for you.


An ePub is the best file to have, not only because all e-tailers will accept it, but because it also provides a NCX table of contents, which helps the reader to easily navigate through the chapters in your book.

So, how do you change your Word document into an ePub?

I would recommend using Jutoh, as mentioned above. It will turn your Word .docx file into an ePub, .mobi file, as well as a number of other files. However, your Word document will first need to be properly formatted using the methods listed in my book, mentioned in the previous section, or the Smashwords formatting guide. After you’ve formatted your Word document, simply follow the Jutoh instructions to create your ebook file.

If you have Word and a Mac computer, you can make an ePub yourself, using the Mac application, “Pages.”

Here are some tips to format your book into an ePub, using “Pages”:

1. First of all, follow the advice in my book, or in the Smashwords guide, and then…
2. Select each of your chapter headings and format them in Header 2 style. You can change the appearance of Header 2 so it looks exactly how you’d like. Just make sure that the chapter headings (and anything else you’d like to come up in the NCX table of contents) is in Header 2 format. Header 2 format will start the chapter on a new page in an eReader.
3. Make sure there are no manual page breaks before the Header 2 text (or extra paragraph marks). Otherwise, a blank page will show up in your ebook at the end of each chapter.
4. Once the ePub is formatted, upload it to the program “Pages” on the Mac computer. Then go to File and Export it as an ePub. Make certain that the two boxes on the bottom of the first screen are not checked.
5. You can check your ePub file using an iPhone, iPad, or other ePub reader. Here’s how:
6. Download “Book Proofer” to the Mac
7. Plug your iPhone or iPad into the Mac
8. Open iBooks in your iPhone/iPad
9. Launch Book Proofer
10. Check the box in Book Proofer so it will choose to sync with your iPhone or iPad
11. Go to File in Book Proofer, and select the ePub you’d like to check in your iPhone/iPad. It will automatically download to your iPhone/iPad.
12. Open the file on your iPhone/iPad.
13. Check the drop down list next to “Library” and make sure your chapters are all there, and that the links work.
14. Check that everything else looks good in the document.

If you’d like, you can check your ePub to make sure it will pass inspection at Apple, or at other e-tailers. Sometimes image files will get flagged if they are improperly named with spacing between words. For example, if an image file is named “Lots of bunnies.jpg” instead the correct “Lots_ofBunnies.jpg”. If this happens to you, rename the image file and reinsert it into the Word document. Save it, then make your ePub again.

Here is the link to the online validator:

How to make a mobi

Jutoh will make a perfect .mobi file for you, but there are other ways to get perfect .mobi file, as well.

KDP Kindle will accept both ePub and .mobi files for upload. While you do not need to have a .mobi (Kindle) file to upload to KDP, there may be a situation when you will need a .mobi file. Perhaps you would like to send a review copy to a friend or reviewer who would like to view it on their Kindle. They would need a .mobi file. If you’ve already uploaded your ebook to the KDP platform, it is easy to download a .mobi file to your computer that you can share with others.

If you do not use Jutoh to make your .mobi file, here is how to receive a free .mobi file of your book:

1. Go to your KDP dashboard and click on “Bookshelf.”
2. Find your book, and click on the three dots on the far right side (just to the right of the “promote and advertise” button).
3. Click “Edit eBook Content.”
4. Scroll down the page until you find “Kindle eBook Preview.”
5. Click “Preview on your computer.” Go to “Step 2” in that section and click on the highlighted MOBI link. That will download a perfect .mobi file to your computer.
6. Then click “Bookshelf” again to get out of the editing screen. (Don’t save any changes–just exit out.)

eBook cover size

To upload to the e-tailers you will not only need an ePub, but also a cover image. Be sure that it is the right size.

Amazon KDP recommends that the height of the image be 2,500 pixels, and requires it to be in jpg or tiff image format:

Nook Press recommends a minimum height of 1,400 pixels, and requires it to be in jpg or png image format. They request that the file be less than 2 megabytes in size:

Next week, we’ll give you tips about how to format your print book for publication. It will be #4 in our 5 part How to Self-Publish Your Books, Tips and Tricks series.

Series Links: 1 2 3 4 5


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