Of course you don’t need to learn HTML. There are plenty of applications available that let you use a WYSWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to create a page and export it as HTML. And what is exported MAY view pretty much the way you designed it in your favorite web browser.

But you want to publish to electronic devices, right? There is a plethora of web sites “out there” that will translate your document or your HTML and maybe even get it published for you. The problem is there will most likely be a fee involved for the service.

More importantly, you lose control.

It’s All About Control

When you know HTML, you are in control. You can take the code produced by your WYSWYG editor and make it your own. How much work involved will be up to the editor you work with. Some applications give you a wealth of options for defining how the HTML will be produced and do an amazing job of creating the code for you complete with a CSS style sheet. 

If you are publishing to Kindle (KF8 format) Amazon provides a plugin for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and above) that does a fantastic job for creating dynamic (ePub) format books. But even with this powerhouse solution, you may need to open the code in an HTML editor to get your final project just the way you want it.

What About Fixed Format Books

Design-specific books use fixed format. For these books I have yet to find the perfect solution that works for all electronic devices. I like Amazon’s KF8 format because, let’s face it, there is an Amazon reader application available for just about every device. The problem with this format is that images must be in the background and text uses absolute positioning. On the other hand, creating a page in this format using HTML is simple. So why not start with the HTML to begin with? Design your background images in an application such as Photoshop. (This is where all the real work is involved anyway, right?). Then create your pages using HTML code and forget the WYSWYG-to-HTML translation. To make this super easy, we have created some templates that you can download from our EPUB page. Set up a user account and download.