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How to Create an Ebook with Embedded Fonts

Marc Schenker April 18, 2024 · 14 min read

You want to know how to create an eBook, but don’t know where to start. What software do you need? Do you need to hire a designer? Can you embed fonts and will your eBook display them consistently across all devices? These are all crucial questions to ask yourself as you plan how to create an eBook. The answers reveal a process that’s more accessible than ever today, thanks largely to intuitive technology like Adobe InDesign. On the marketing side of things, an eBook is a versatile piece of content that you can use in a variety of situations, from gated content to educational promo materials and everything in between. Today, social media and influencer marketing are touted nonstop, yet, when you learn how to create an eBook, you’re showing your leads both your design savvy and your marketing panache. In this walkthrough, we take you from the basics of how to create an eBook to the finer points of using InDesign to create your new, literary masterpiece.

How to Create an eBook: What to Know Before You Start

The first problem that you face when creating an eBook is the reality that it won’t display uniformly across all devices and screen sizes. For starters, you have no way of telling in what screen size your readers will be enjoying your new eBook because it has no fixed page size. A smartphone is going to display maybe just one paragraph per page while a tablet will have room for more on one page. Then, when you add desktops into the mix–with their massive screen sizes–things get still more inconsistent because they will likely be able to show two pages at a time on the screen.

Image Credit: Aliis Sinisalu

The other issue is that you don’t always have control over how your readers are going to absorb the content in your eBook. This is an issue related to the fonts you use, the specific eReaders they’re using, and the format of eBook you work with. There are things you can do to mitigate this, of course, but it’s going to take some foresight. So how do you deal with this? The secret to how to create an eBook that renders perfectly lies in the type of format that you use, thereby giving your readers the best possible user experience.

The Difference Between an eBook and an EPUB

To help us understand how to create an eBook, it’s imperative to first understand the difference between an eBook and an EPUB (Electronic Publication). Look at the former as the overall category or type of content and the latter as one of many formats in which to present this content to your audience. Other examples of the former include PDF (Portable Document Format), AZW (a file format designed specifically for Amazon’s Kindle), and ODF (Open Document Format). For our purposes of how to create an eBook, we’re only going to focus on the EPUB format for a variety of reasons:

  • It is the most popular and adopted file format
  • It offers both creators/authors and readers flexibility
  • It features the reflowable format, which is the standard in eBook publishing

When working with EPUB, you have two choices at your disposal:

  • The reflowable format
  • The fixed-layout format

As I mentioned, the reflowable format is the standard of electronic publishing today, and with good reason. Here are just a few of the benefits of using the reflowable format:

  • It’s compatible with most devices
  • You enjoy a bigger distribution opportunity
  • You can upload it to the big retailers’ websites with ease
  • Nearly all eReaders and operating systems support it
  • It’s cheaper to make
  • Its file sizes are smaller
  • It’s more efficient to update

For our purposes of using embedded fonts with InDesign, using the reflowable format works best since we’ll assume that you’re creating a text-heavy book, such as entire chapter books or even full-fledged novels. Pro Tip: When working in InDesign, select the reflowable EPUB format. The one time when it’s actually recommended to use the fixed-layout format instead is when you’re creating graphic-heavy publications. Examples include cookbooks, technical publications, and even children’s books that are heavy on illustrations and other images. The fixed-layout format is ideal when you want absolute control over how your readers absorb your ebook since it disallows them from changing the fonts, text size, margins or spacing. What you as the author/creator gain in terms of control (and ensuring the integrity of your artistic vision), your audience loses in terms of UX since they can’t customize your ebook to their liking (if the font ends up being too small for the device on which they’re reading your book). Pro Tip: Use the fixed-layout format only when publishing ebooks with a plethora of graphics. So choose wisely between these two format types. As I said, though, we’ll focus on the reflowable format because it promotes better UX for your audience, which means it’ll be downloaded and purchased more often, and because you’re likely going to be working with text-heavy works if you’re thinking of embedding your fonts. For a taste of what’s to come, and because we’ve just launched font licensing in our marketplace, have a look at some of our most aesthetic, embeddable fonts for use in EPUBs

With these basics out of the way, let’s do a deep dive into how to create an eBook in earnest.

Research What Your Audience’s Pain Points Are…and Solve Them

Understand this above all else: your eBook should be looked at as a lead-generation tool that solves a big problem for your target demographic. A high-quality EPUB that’s bursting with relevant information for your audience means more leads, conversions, and sales for you. As a graphic designer, you might author an eBook on any of these topics:

  • Why Small Business Owners Need to Hire a Graphic Designer
  • How Graphic Design Communicates Your Brand to Your Customers
  • 12 Ways Graphic Design Makes Your Business More Money

In each title, you’re communicating value to your customers while educating them on why their business needs graphic design solutions. The idea is to position yourself as a thought leader or expert in design, which kickstarts the process of nudging your lead down your conversion funnel (with the ultimate conversion being you getting hired for a project or on a long-term basis). Setting off on how to create an eBook without considering your audience is useless. You need to appeal to their pain points. To figure out what their pain points are, consult: 1) Analytics like Google Analytics and Clicky, which tell you what people who land on your website are searching for (and therefore what keywords brought them to your website) 2) SEO keyword research tools like Mangools and Ahrefs, which tell you which keywords your leads are searching for in high demand (around which you can write a high-quality eBook)

Organize Your eBook

Your next step in the process of how to create an eBook is straightforward: you have to plan it in such a way that it’s legible, readable, and holds the interest of your audience from start to finish. Start by thinking about the flow of information you want to present to your audience, including the chapter titles and what information each one will contain. Each chapter doesn’t have to be lengthy; in fact, your entire eBook doesn’t have to be lengthy. It’s better that you fill your pages with high-quality content than filler, so, if that means an EPUB that’s just seven pages long instead of 25, then so be it. Just as you might break down key discussions in each section when you’re writing a long article or blog post, so, too, each chapter of your publication should serve as a detailed discussion of a key aspect of your overall book topic. The chapters should also have some form of logical flow to them. That is to say, each chapter should complement the next, and, as a whole, they need to accomplish what the title of your eBook promises. Keep in mind the formatting as you’re working your way through how to create an eBook. You can look at your publication as a very long-form blog post that’s also going to require these best practices of formatting:

  • Headings
  • Subheadings
  • Bullet points
  • Lists
  • Enumerations
  • Short paragraphs
  • Different-sized fonts
  • Bold
  • Italic

Once you’ve written your publication, you can focus on its design.

Design Your eBook

An integral part of how to create your eBook is how you present it to your audience. This is where good design comes into the picture. To maximize your efficiency, have a look at some of our favorite eBook templates from our marketplace: These templates will let you edit your publication’s colors, which is important since you need to ensure that your creation features your brand colors. This ensures on-point branding that communicates professionalism and adds your personal touch to these templates. We also need to talk about incorporating vibrant visuals. Not only do they help to break up the flow of information, thereby helping with the formatting, but they also provide additional information that underscores the main points you’re making. That’s why it’s necessary to think carefully about the images that you choose. We also have a large selection of stock photos that’ll make your eBook come to life. Finally, what eBook would be complete without an all-important call to action or CTA? Now, you’ve given your audience high-quality information they couldn’t get anywhere else, and so they look at you as a thought leader in your industry. This is high time to prompt them farther down your conversion funnel. Include CTAs within your book to things like:

  • A product or service page
  • An offer or promotion you’re running
  • A landing page

Congrats: you’re done with the actual writing of your eBook. Let’s proceed to embed your fonts within InDesign.

What to Remember When Embedding Fonts into Your eBook

Embedding fonts gives your readers the choice of reading your publication in a font that’s more legible and readable, especially on smaller device sizes. While it’s a great idea to embed fonts as you make your EPUB, you should remember the following:

  • The legality of using the font: Research if the font you want to use has a license that legally permits you to embed it in your creation. Creative Market fonts can be purchased under an E-pub license that allows such use.
  • The utility of the font: Critically examine the font to determine with certainty if it’s actually legible and readable, if it’ll significantly add to the size or length of your entire publication, and if it looks aesthetic or is unusual.
  • The compatibility of the font: Look into how well the font you want to use will render across various eReaders since that’s always a tricky situation

Also make note of the fact that your audience is a factor when it comes to embedded fonts:

  • Your readers have final say over reading your book on their devices in the exact font, font size, background color, and spacing they choose
  • Usually, your readers have to remember to turn on your embedded fonts manually by going into their device’s menu or settings
  • Older eReaders don’t support embedded fonts and will use the device’s default fonts

Embed Your Fonts in InDesign

The benefit of embedding your fonts is that you drastically increase the chances that your audience will read your EPUB the way you want it and that your book’s presentation won’t get disrupted by different screen sizes. Note that you still don’t have 100% complete control over how your audience reads your eBook because they can simply override your embedded fonts and set their own. All this aside, there’s also some prep work you have to do to get your InDesign file ready before you turn it into an EPUB. Here’s what to do as you continue on your process of how to create an eBook:

  • Correct negative space problems
  • Add ALT tags to your images
  • Ensure style and picture-name compliance
  • Inspect and then edit your layout order
  • Establish chapter breaks at the start of the chapter
  • Simplify complex tables
  • Anchor any floating pictures within your text
  • Include a Table of Contents style for proper device navigation
  • Apply styles to your text
  • Include an in-book Table of Contents
  • Rasterize your InDesign artwork
  • Don’t forget semantic markup

And because we’ve just launched font licensing, here’s another round of some of our favorite embedded fonts that are available for your next project:

With your file all set now, you’re ready to embed your fonts. Here’s how to do that: 1) Click on the File menu. 2) Click on Export in the dropdown menu. 3) Click on Save. 4) In the EPUB — Reflowable Layout Export Options window that opens up, choose HTML & CSS in the left-hand column. 5) Check the box next to Include Embeddable Fonts. 6) Click on Ok. 7) You’re all done. Congrats! There’s only one step left in your goal of how to create an eBook…

Export Your InDesign File to EPUB

As I established earlier, you want to select reflowable EPUB as your format due to all the advantages. When you’re happy with your eBook the way it looks in InDesign, click on File on the navigation menu and then save it with the .epub extension. The Export to EPUB dialog box will open up.

Image Credit: Perfecto Capucine

In the first dropdown box of the General selection (in the left-hand column), you’ll notice the default there as EPUB 2.0.1. Change that in the dropdown box to EPUB 3.0. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble because of all the benefits that EPUB 3.0 provides:

  • It supports JavaScript, accessibility and languages with complicated characters (Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic)
  • It uses CSS3 and HTML5
  • It can be read on a device that only supports EPUB 2

How to Create an eBook: It Can Be a Long (but Valuable) Project

Your publication is an important arsenal in your marketing toolset. Unlike an infographic, blog post, or email, an eBook retains more value as legitimate reference material because of the greater depth and quantity of the information you’re sharing with your leads and customers. It also follows that you can’t expect to finish it in the time it takes to create an email campaign or a long-form blog post. While the time you spend on it depends on how much information you want to provide, writing such a tome from beginning to end (including working within InDesign) can take you as little as a few days to a week or more. The most important thing is that the value you create for your brand and for your customers means that it’s a win-win situation all around.

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About the Author
Marc Schenker

Marc is a copywriter and marketer who runs The Glorious Company, a marketing agency. An expert in business and marketing, he helps businesses and companies of all sizes get the most bang for their ad bucks.

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