Best Practices for Your eBook Design


Do you remember when CDs first came out? I’m of the age where I most certainly do. And I remember exactly what I thought: “This will never catch on.” Alas, I’m not always right. I also thought minidisc players were going to catch on, so that tells you something. I’m from that in-between generation that remembers what life was like before the internet (and its subsequent screen time) but also spent my early adulthood navigating the internet boom (and I’ve been doing so ever since). With that said, as a marketer, I’ve watched as content marketing has become increasingly more popular (and necessary), with one area in particular rapidly gaining speed: eBooks. While this is something I don’t know I would have predicted 20 years ago, present-day me definitely sees their value.

With that said, if you’re reading this, chances are you do, too, and have either produced an eBook of your own or are looking to create your first. It makes me so happy you found this post because through my own experiences designing eBooks for clients, I’ve acquired a multitude of lessons I’d like to share with you to make sure your next (or first) eBook is the best it can be from a design standpoint.

  • Don’t be afraid to get creative: Your eBook is an opportunity to really stand out, and while it’s tempting to want to fall back on the same design over and over again, and/or stick to your brand design, unless you’re a brand new brand and this is your first eBook, I can’t encourage you enough to use this as an opportunity to push out the box and get creative. 
  • Choose a design theme based on content: I’m a sucker for a good theme, and an eBook is the perfect place to utilize one! When we were working with a current client to design their most recent research report about talent, which is “skyrocketing” with demand and is “out of this world,” we took that metaphor and ran with it by incorporating a space/rocket theme that supported that message. 
  • Incorporate your brand in small ways: While I noted above that this is an opportunity to go outside the box a bit, that doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon everything from your brand guidelines. Your eBook can (and in some cases should) weave in certain brand elements like your font, logo, and colors.
  • Think about how you will promote it: When designing your eBook and its theme, consider how your promotional posts and materials will look on various social media channels and in eNewsletters. Your cover, for instance, can be translated into various banner designs and social posts to create a cohesive design experience and set the stage for the subject matter people will be engaging with.
  • Keep the medium in mind: Since this is an eBook and will be viewed on some sort of screen, you’d be wise to avoid large chunks of text, and instead, should incorporate graphics elements throughout. I’ve found multiple columns are easier to read and that consistent styles for titles can help make it easier to navigate the content, especially when it’s complex.

Create interesting styles to highlight information, with callouts like sidebars and pull quotes. Also, make sure you have some background design elements like a pattern or shading that you can use subtly and in the background to differentiate but not detract.

White space is great when you are printing something but when you are reading on your device or computer, you want to balance that white space so the reader doesn’t have to scroll unnecessarily.

  • Take advantage of digital features: Because this isn’t a print piece, you can take advantage of all the cool features of digital design. Make your links live and allow people to quickly access your sources, additional information, and further resources that may help them. You can also try a clickable table of contents that allows readers to easily navigate throughout the piece.
  • Other miscellaneous tips: Use page numbers, put your logo on every page, and don’t forget a call to action at the end to get readers engaged.

So, while my predictions about DVDs and minidisc players weren’t exactly on point, I do believe the power and popularity of eBooks is only going to increase. If you’re interested in learning more, or are looking for help with your next eBook design, please reach out at [email protected].