If we avoid the first four errors of self-publishing (poor content, cover, title, and editing), we can still ruin our hard work with formatting errors. Just because a book looks good in Microsoft Word, doesn’t mean it’s going to convert nicely to an e-book. Even one conversion error will lower a reader’s esteem for our work; numerous ones will cause them to stop reading altogether.
Here are some formatting errors I’ve encountered with books. These mostly relate to e-books, but I’ve also seen some of them in printed books:
- Missing paragraph indents: A new paragraph is not indented but is flush left.
- Errant paragraph marks: A new paragraph starts mid-sentence.
- Inconsistent paragraphs spacing: Some paragraphs have no space between them, while others have a full line—or more— between them.
- Hyphenation problems: A hyphenated word appears in the middle of the line, instead of at the end. Sometimes there is a space after the hyphen.
- Random font point variations: A sentence, phrase, word, or even letter is larger or smaller than the rest of the text around it.
Many of these formatting errors are more noticeable as we resize text in a reader. Regardless of how careful the file conversion is, we must read (not scan) the converted file to find mistakes. I’ve also noticed a disproportionate number of errors towards the end of books, suggesting that people stopped checking or got in a rush as they neared the end.
Converting a file is tricky and checking the results is tedious, but these are critical steps if we are to produce a quality product with no formatting errors.
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