eBook Formatting

It is important to note that eBooks are different from their print counterparts, particularly when it comes to formatting. eBook technology continues to evolve and each device and platform displays eBooks differently. Therefore the first rule to follow when preparing your book for conversion to an eBook is KEEP FORMATTING SIMPLE.


The best practices for creating an eBook are summarized below.


NOTE: In all instances you should consult the Help files included with your word processing software for details on how to set, modify, and apply styles to your manuscript. A little bit of homework before you attempt to convert your manuscript to an eBook will save you a lot of rework as you move through the process.

Formatting Styles

When it comes to eBooks, the simpler your formatting the better your eBook will look on an eReader device. As part of your preparation for converting your manuscript to EPUB format, you should familiarize yourself with the use of Styles. In Microsoft Word 2007 and later, the styles panel is displayed in the toolbar.
Figure: Styles Panel as Displayed in the Microsoft Word Toolbar


A well-formatted eBook only requires the use of the following styles, plus they are the only ones recognized by our converter:

  • Heading 1 (Title, Main Sections)
  • Heading 2 (Chapters or Sections)
  • Heading 3 (Subsections)
  • Normal (Paragraph or text style)
  • Direct (Inline) Formatting such as bold, italics, first level bullets, and first level numbered lists.
    Note: An error message displays during conversion if your manuscript includes second level bullets or numbered lists.Important Note: If you are uploading multiple files for conversion to EPUB format, such as a separate file for each section or chapter, EACH file must include Heading 1 style on the first line (Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.), otherwise you will receive an error message during conversion. Additionally, heading styles in EACH file must progress sequentially from Heading 1 > 2 > 3.

Fonts and Special Characters

To ensure your content displays on all eReader devices, use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Arial, or Garamond. If your file contains other fonts, your eBook’s text will automatically be converted to Times New Roman during the conversion process.


Special characters should be avoided. Generally, if a character is not on your keyboard, it may not convert properly. If your text includes special characters, please confirm they display correctly on an eReader device following conversion.

Page Formatting

Unlike their print counterparts, eBooks do not use page-based formatting, but rather are composed of reflowable text that automatically adjusts based on the selected font and eReader screen size. Page numbers, page breaks, headers, and footers do not exist in eBooks. If you leave them in your document, the Lulu EPUB Converter will remove them.


TIP:   Although page breaks are automatically removed during the conversion to EPUB file format, a page break is inserted before each use of the Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles to indicate the start of a new chapter or section. On an e-reader, this will make the new chapter start at the top of the screen. This also creates a new entry in the EPUB Table of Contentsthat will link to the chapter or section.

Text Alignment (Justification)

Typically, Align Text Left converts the best. Avoid using Justify Text as it does not convert well.

Spaces and Hard Returns

The Lulu EPUB Converter removes extra spaces and hard returns during file conversion.

Paragraph Separation

Proper paragraph breaks are essential for an eBook, otherwise paragraphs will bump into each other and your readers will not clearly see where one paragraph ends and another begins. Be sure to set your paragraph style to either block orfirst line indent format with additional spacing between paragraphs. For more information on how to modify paragraph settings, see Paragraph Formats.


EPUBs can support only first level lists (both bulletted lists and numbered lists). This means a list cannot have a sub-set (or nested) list within it.

Advanced users can turn of Word’s automatic formatting for more control when creating lists. See How to Configure Microsoft Word settings.


Headers and Footers

Headers and footers are not supported in EPUBs and will be removed by the Lulu EPUB Converter. If you have important content in your headers and footers, please incorporate it into the body of your document or as a footnote or endnote

Title and Copyright Page

A huge amount of time went into creating your remarkable work and you want people to know you wrote it. Well, so do our retail distribution partners. As a best practice, include a title and copyright page – the more professional it looks, the better. For more information, see Front Matter (Title, Copyright, Table of Contents, etc.).


The eReader’s Search function has replaced indexes in EPUBs. For example, if your reader wants to find all occurrences of the word “Lulu”, rather than looking up page numbers in an index, they simply type “Lulu” in the search field, and use the search results to jump directly to the relevant page.


If your manuscript contains a chapter or section with an auto-generated index (i.e. term, page number) we recommend you remove the chapter or section. You do not, however, need to remove the index markers in your file; we will remove them during conversion.

High-Quality Images & Cover Art

All images must be in three color RGB (red, green, blue) format. Four-color CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key black) images are NOT accepted.


During file conversion, all images will be reformatted to display in line with text above and below the image. Each individual image cannot exceed 250 KB and image dimensions cannot exceed 2 million pixels. During conversion, images exceeding 2 million pixels will be resized to meet this requirement, including your marketing image. For best results, we recommend you verify all images and resize them as necessary, using your favorite image editing software, prior to uploading your file for conversion to EPUB format.


TIP:   The number of pixels contained within an image is calculated by multiplying the pixel width and height dimensions. For example an 8.5 x 11 inch image has the following dimensions in pixels:  612 x 792. When multiplied together, this image contains 484,704 pixels.

Text Boxes and Mathematical Formulas

eReader devices often cannot accurately display complex content such as:

  1. Charts
  2. Text boxes
  3. Scientific or mathematic formulas
  4. Embedded objects such as HTML, Smart Art, etc.

If you must include any of the above, we recommend replacing the text with a high-quality JPEG image.


Multiple columns are best left for the Greeks and Romans or your local newspaper. During conversion, multiple columns within your uploaded files will be converted to a single column of reflowable text.

Multimedia Files

The Lulu EPUB Converter does not support converting audio and video files embedded in your document. You must remove these before uploading your file.

Other Roadblocks to eBook Success

After all the work you put into creating your eBook, we assume you will want to share it with as many people as possible. If your intent is to publish your eBook on multiple retail sites to maximize your potential income, you must also comply with retail distribution requirements. To smooth the way into the marketplace, please review your manuscript and remove the following:


  1. Advertising: Do not include advertisements in your eBook or its description.
  2. Price: Do no include the retail price of your eBook on the cover, in the description, or in the eBook itself.
  3. URLs: Remove URLs from the cover, title, description, copyright, metadata – basically, anyplace that would not be considered part of your book’s text must be free of URLs.
  4. Extras: Unfortunately, eReaders that can deliver extras like a poster, CD, or little stuffed bear have yet to be invented. If you mention extras that come with the print version of your book, remember to remove those references from your eBook.
  5. Paper: Your eBook is not intended to be printed so there is no need to mention where the book is printed or on what paper. Likewise, if your book is intended for use as a workbook, you may wish to remove the portions intended for interactivity before converting it to EPUB format.
  6. Language: Though we hope to be able to accept additional languages in the future, we now only accept content for retail distribution in English.

For more information about retail distribution, see eBook Retail Distribution Guidelines and Top 10 Reasons Why Your eBook Was Rejected.