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.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.