Advanced ebook formatting tips
#41  lindsayw 03-30-2011, 05:24 AM
I will try to dig up a reference from among the myriad sites I have visited but, from memory, the xhtml rule is simple: any "empty" tag (that doesn't ever have content) may be self-closed. Any tag that MIGHT have content must be explicitly closed. The <a> tag might have content and, in fact, normally has an href="xxxx" element, so it needs a separate closing tag to delineate the operating element (the link). Tags such as <br> or <hr> never have content so they should be: <br /> or <hr />. <p> ALWAYS has content, so needs a </p> to delineate the scope of the paragraph.

#42  Jellby 03-30-2011, 07:25 AM
I've found this:

Given an empty instance of an element whose content model is not EMPTY (for example, an empty title or paragraph) do not use the minimized form (e.g. use <p> </p> and not <p />)

But it is in the "HTML Compatibility Guidelines" appendix, i.e., it is not a prohibition in the specification, but a recommendation in order to have XHTML documents render in HTML-only browsers. I don't think it applies to ebook readers and ebook formats.

#43  lindsayw 03-31-2011, 05:34 AM
OK, that's probably right, but I use a 3-stage method of "building" e-books. First, using Anthemion eCub to assemble all the files in an ePub, then Sigil to modify the structure (and run their Validity Check) to remove the auto-generated TOC and hack the content.opf file, then finally Calibre to "explode" the ePub and make final adjustments before converting to MOBI for Kindle use. I know that files that fail HTML-5 validation also fail Sigil's validation and, when I view it on the Kindle there are subtle layout errors that I believe are created by "open" tags. When I make sure that all <a> tags are explicitly closed I don't get those errors.

#44  JSWolf 04-08-2011, 04:03 PM
I think some of the Kindle layout errors are due to bugs in the Kindle parser. Do your ePub look OK before you convert to mobi? Do your Mobi look OK in Mobipocket Reader?

#45  lindsayw 04-09-2011, 06:11 PM
My ePub files all look fine on PC-based Readers and, of course, I can't check them on the Kindle. As soon as I get this phase of my project ( converting all my stuff from p-books ) out of the way, I will definitely be buying a different brand of actual Reader so that I can concentrate on ePub, which seems a much more versatile format. My work is technically done, and I'm qute happy with the appearance on the Kindle, but I'm still finding tiny errors from proof-reading... mostly arising from the manual method I used to copy from Word and paste as a plain-text block into an html editor... won't make that mistake again.

#46  RuthO 09-06-2011, 08:27 PM
Thanks very much for recommending "Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide to Formatting Books for the Amazon Kindle." I spent the weekend working in HTML trying to figure out how to format the poem I was working on. This recommendation will save me a lot of time in the future. It's already wirelessly delivered!

#47  vaniaspeedy 03-30-2012, 08:54 PM
Hey everyone, thanks for a fantastic thread! I picked up a few new ideas on eBook conversion. Seems like the general consensus is working with the html directly, couldn't agree more.

I recently created a website,, with tutorials on eBook conversion. It would be great to get some additional input from pros like you, on the website layout and the actual content.

Also, a LOT of you guys had some really cool tricks, would any of you be interested in writing a guest post for the site? I'm not promising money, but maybe fame. You'd be free to format the tutorial any way you like, either paste your posts from here or summarize the info for a web page.

My goal is to build a nice reference for people who are not familiar with browsing forums, or who are not as tech savvy. A simple web page with step by step instructions would be perfect for them!

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