Formatting Poetry Ebooks

By Amanda Greenslade

I get asked regularly by writers how they should format their Word documents to make them ready for ebook conversion. Today's blog article is focused on poetry.

A potential customer asked me recently:

"From what I read poetry is more difficult or different to set up in an eBook.
Do I send you the Word file set out in A4 page size and just change the margin settings?"

My answer to this enquiry was:

Ebooks don't have controllable margins or page sizes, unless we do fixed layout (which I tend to do only for children's picture books and image heavy, design rich non-fiction books like cookbooks). If you would like to send me the files I will be able to give you some free advice about whether to go one way or the other.

Basically Reflowing Ebooks (or Reflowable) tend to be easier for people to read on all types of devices, including mobile phones. Fixed Layout ebooks are more for tablets like ipads, nexus and Kindle Fire, but can be made more beautiful as the book designer gets to control the entire page design, like in a printed book.

So in other words it matters not what size page you use in your manuscript or what margins you use. Try to imagine people reading your poems on a mobile phone. That is much much smaller than A4, which is fine. The text simply reflows to fit whatever screen size they're being read on. And if mobile phone readers can only see the first few lines of the poem before swiping, that's OK.

If part of your poetry writing style requires very specific formatting, spacing, and visual display, then Fixed Layout ebook might be a better choice for you. In that case set your Microsoft Word document to A5 and you'll be able to design it in Word within a fairly close range to the size of an iPad.

For more information please view my video about reflowing vs fixed layout ebooks here:

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