Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing 101: eBook Codes

When you're trying to format a manuscript into an ebook, it's helpful to know some html. But there's no reason you should run right out and sign up for a programming class just to get your book out there. If you can use a few simple ebook codes, you can create a well-formatted story -- and nobody has to know that you don't really know what you're doing.

eBook Codes You Need to Know

You don't really have to learn a bunch of html to get your ebook together, because there's a limited number of codes that are actually relevant. Even if you're adding a bunch of different in-text formatting, pictures, links and other fun stuff, the ebook codes you need to use are pretty simple.
  • Links. Add links to your book using the <a> tag. Many authors include a link to their personal blogs or websites in the "About the Author" section of their books, which often appears at the end. My link will look like this: Visit <a>Jade's blog</a> to learn more. "Jade's blog" will serve as the text for the link. That's very important! Always include the text, and use the full url for the link code.
  • Formatting. Bold words will appear inside the <b> tag. For example: The headline read <b>Death!</b> in big, black letters. The <b> tag begins the bold, the </b> ends it. If you use an ebook code, you must always close it in this fashion. You may also use <strong> in place of <b>. Both codes are correct. Likewise, words in italics appear inside <i> tags. The <em> tag may also be used for italics.
  • Blank lines. Want to add a blank line of text? You may only be able to do it by using ebook codes, because when you convert a word processor document into .pdf or .html, those blank lines may disappear. Use the <br> code to create a line break. This is the only ebook code you won't need to close; there is no </br> code.
  • Paragraphs. All paragraphs should begin with a <p> tag, and end with a </p> tag. This will ensure that your formatting and indentations look correct in the ebook. The <p> tag automatically adds the proper indentation, and will keep your paragraphs at full justification (the only correct justification for books).
  • Center. But all text can't be justified all the time. Many authors like to center their chapter headings and book titles, and why shouldn't they? Just slap a <center> tag in front of the text you want to center, and end the center justification with </center>.
Basic ebook codes help you translate what you've written into something ereaders can understand, with no loss of formatting. But going through your html is very tedious, exacting work. Use an online ebook viewer took to check and double-check each page of your ebook several times, and tweak the html as needed to be sure your formatting is perfect. If you notice any problems in the book, there's a problem with the html. Find it, fix it, and make the book perfect.

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