ibooks author, instructional tech, iPad

5 Design Elements to Consider When Writing Your iBook

Creating your iBook with Apple’s iBooks Author software is an exciting project!  You’ve got the content, ideas about which widgets you want to use, and maybe you even have the intro media ready to throw in. Great! But before you dig in, stop to consider your design. This is probably the most overlooked aspect of creating a high quality iBook.

When I facilitate the writing of iBooks during teacher trainings and professional development, I discuss the importance of good design. Fortunately for me, I get to work with a great graphic designer, George Otvos of Ego Design. Good design in an iBook makes your book easy to read and content easy to find. Colors, fonts, images, and the careful placement of widgets and videos are critical design elements to consider.

Design post

Color

Stay away from too many colors in your text, shapes, and lines.  Choose no more than three main colors for your book and stick with it.  Bold colors are better than bright, and black and yellow are easy to read for most people.  You can favorite your colors in the inspector so that they are easy to find to apply to your text and images.  I am a big fan of the basic white background and black text and using one color to highlight important vocabulary or key sentence.  Here are some things to consider when choosing your color scheme.

Font

Your fonts needs to be clean. It is tempting to combine fonts. If you do so, make sure they are either in the same family or they are completely different. Try to stay away from two fonts that are very decorative. Look for sans and sans-serif fonts. This means they are in the same family and will match if you choose to go that direction.

You can also choose one font and use it throughout your iBook but distinguish headings and chapter headings with a heavier weight and size. iBooks Author will have these weights and sizes already set up for your as text type, but you can customize these at will.  The main point is to keep your fonts clean and do not mix more than two different fonts.  Find more food for thought on fonts here.

Images

Using open sources images can really improve the look of your iBook. I encourage teachers to use their own images that they have culminated or find a good graphic designer to help them create templates to use throughout their iBook.  If you are going the route of online images from copyright free images, be sure to crop, rotate, and frame out your images before you place them inside your iBook.  Don’t forget to consider the best placement for your image and refrain from more than one image per page.

Widgets

The placement of widgets should be very clean.  Avoid placing a widget in the middle of your text.  I recommend text on one side of the landscape view and a widget to go with the content on the opposite page. Keeping your pages clutter free and clean will help your reader engage with the content more easily. You can set your widgets to open into their own screen as well thus giving you more space to work with.  Read more about the different kind of widgets here.

Video

Video within your iBook becomes an amazing teaching and sharing tool. Before you drop your movie file onto your iBook page, be sure that you have cropped it to the desired length. Even though you can set the start and stop places within inspector, it will be faster to export if you have already cropped it up. I like to use Quicktime or iMovie to crop up my videos before placing them into the iBook. You do not need to worry about optimizing the video as iBooks Author will do that for you when it is published.

I’ve written in the past about the importance of having a critical friend. Do the same with your iBook. Get a few people to check it out in preview mode before publishing it to see how they react to the design of your book. Most people will just be in awe of the fact that you’ve got yourself an iBook to publish to the iBook store! Always use a critical eye to be sure your design is as good as it can be. And as always, feel free to reach out to Score Publishing if you are in need of a graphic designer or publisher for your book. Happy iBooking!

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