ePub and PDF formats
M ardigrafe masters the art of transforming a print into a virtual document. In some cases, the PDF format will be preferred. In others, we prefer the ePub (.epub) format, for “electronic publication”. This format allows reading a book on a tablet or e-reader. PDFs help maintain the overall graphics. It is convenient, but depending on the screen available, it is not always easy to read. On the other hand, ePubs offer a great flexibility of display even on small screens, which ensures a good reading comfort. The reader can determine the display size of the text itself. This flexibility is possible at the cost of some compromises on the graphical level. The concept of page as a fixed element no longer exists. A book will have more or fewer pages depending on the display choices of the person reading (text size, margins, full screen reading, etc.).
What about typography?
Some typographic refinements, such as thin spaces, are not yet recognized by the ePub format. The limit seems more imposed by the material than by the code. Fine spaces exist in HTML, so they can, in principle, be included in the code of an ePub. But the majority of e-readers and tablets do not yet know how to interpret them. On the other hand, the bold and the italic, the small capitals, the initials, the text justified or feathered, the recesses to the paragraphs pose no difficulty. If hyphenation is supported by tablets and e-readers, it is important to know that hyphenation parameters are not supported by the ePub format (shortest word, number of letters to be kept before and after hyphenation, number of consecutive breaks, hyphenation at footer, hyphenation exceptions). It is the tablet or the reader who takes care of the breaks, according to the context. To conclude, the ePub format and the material to benefit from it are constantly evolving. We are only at the beginning of this new revolution!
Dynamic and interactive
We can turn a static PDF form into a dynamic PDF form that can be filled out on screen. We can transform a document laid out for printing into an interactive PDF with a clickable table of contents, external URL links and other internal links. For your conferences or presentations, we can help you maintain a consistent brand image by providing you with backgrounds to create your Power Point ™ (or other presentation software) documents. We can also build Word ™ or Libre Office templates with style sheets to facilitate the work of standardizing documents within your organization.
Starting on the right foot
The production requirements are generally the same for the ePub as for any other project: you need to have an overview before you start. It is better to know from the design stage whether the project will be for both print and ePub. The ePub format has its requirements, especially with regard to style sheets and automation of the table of contents. Whenever possible, it will be best to take this into account from the start. If not, changing from paper to ePub may require a lot of work in the source document, which would increase production time and could lead to errors. Rest assured, however, that if you have access to files – even if they come from older versions of QuarkXPress ™ or InDesign ™ – we will still be able to create a quality ePub.
Rethink the layout
The ePub format also has some good graphics limitations, including the impossibility of having text on more than one column. It will be necessary to rethink the layout if one wishes to produce an electronic book based on a “paper” model made up of many small elements, framed, exergues or photos embedded in the text, etc. Although a certain level of complexity is possible – we think of drop caps or boxes – we must not lose sight of the strength of the ePub format is its ability to adapt to any screen size. The page becomes moving. Positioning a photo between two lines of the same paragraph does not make sense from the point of view of the ePub because the number of characters on a line will vary according to the reading preferences. Photos or illustrations must be inserted between paragraphs. These are small details, certainly, but in layout they have all their importance.
And paper lovers in all this?
One suspects, the debate paper-screen takes a new spin with the advent of the e-book. For the actors of the graphic chain, the new format must be tamed. The ePub is not just a transposition on the screen of the paper support, but a brand new medium. For example, provided you have the right hardware and access to the Internet, hyperlinks in the text provide instant access to the Web. Thanks to the ePub format, it is therefore possible to incorporate audio and video files into the text. What will be, in this context, and by way of example only, children’s books, textbooks and encyclopaedias of tomorrow?