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


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.


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.


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.


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 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!

ibooks author, instructional tech, iPad, Uncategorized

Have iPads in Your Classroom? Use iBooks Author!!

widgetsMany institutions are continuing to move towards a 1:1 iPad environment.  It’s been an interesting thing to watch as early adopters of iPad technology and digital content users slowly infiltrate the education realm. Typically technology evolves and  tools change, but iPads seem to have the staying power that truly transforms classrooms.

Along with this digital shift comes many questions. One question is “How do I get student textbooks on the iPads?” Some institutions purchase the electronic version of a textbook. Most of these resources are simply epub versions. This means there is little if any interactivity in this type of book. In this case one is simply digital content for paper. This is not transformational.

In order to transform your classrooms and utilize the power of iPads, use iBooks Author to create interactive books for your students.  Teachers constantly curate materials from Youtube videos, self made resources, online articles, and discussion forums.  If you are a one of these teachers and your students are using iPads in classes, then iBooks Author should be the tool for you!

iBooks Author gives you the ability to create beautiful textbooks that become interactive experiences for your students.  As I have written in my previous post, the easiest way to deliver your books to your students is through iTunesU.

What makes iBooks author so unique are widgets and media. The best part is you do not need to code anything yourself.  iBooks Author does it for you.


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 5.12.35 PM

Widgets are basically coded placeholders for interactive information.  The widgets inside of iBooks Author are Media, Scrolling sidebar, Pop-Over, Keynote, Gallery, Interactive Image, 3D, and HTML.  Each of these widgets does something unique to create an interactive experiences for the reader. Other third party widget creators that I love are bookry.com and bookwidigets.com. These sites help you create many other HTML widgets that can be downloaded and dropped right on a page in iBooks Author.  Some of my favorite widgets from these sites are word searches, crossword puzzles, quizzes, and embedded websites.



Using the Media widget within iBooks Author allows you to simply drop in a Keynote presentation, a video, or an audio file. Teachers can record their lecture and drop it in their book, or create a how-to screen recording and drop it into a books, or add an audio recording into their book for greater accessibility features.

If you have some text, media rich information, and the desire to use some widgets to create a more interactive experience for your students, then you are set to learn how to use iBooks Author! If you want more information on how to become and iBooks Author Guru, please leave me a comment or email me at jennifer@ibooksauthor.guru.


My next post will be all about design elements to consider before creating your iBook.

iPad, LMS

Four New and Amazing Features of iTunesU

This month I will be writing a lot about iBooks, iBooks Author, and iTunesU.  This little triplet packs a huge punch for content creation, delivery, and management for educators.  This post focuses on the new features found inside the iTunesU platform.   

 I’ve just delivered a two day training at Northeast State in Johnson City, TN. Our topic was iBooks Author and was hosted through Score Publishing. One of the key parts of iBooks Author for book delivery to students is the iTunesU platform. Teachers were so enthusiastic upon seeing not only the power of iBooks Author, but the seamless method of delivery for their books brought even more excitement!  
Apple has done a nice job of beefing up their iTunesU platform. Here are some features that you may not know about as well as the latest exciting improvements to iTunesU. 

 Students can turn in homework and assignments.  

It used to be that iTunesU was a one way street. Meaning, you could deliver content, but students could not turn in assignments within iTunesU. Now students can turn projects and assignments directly into iTunesU.  This is a huge improvement of functionality. This keeps everything in one tidy space.  Thanks Apple! 

You can grade student work and view grades at a glance.

This is just one more step towards iTunesU becoming a learning management system. In the administration tab click on students and you will see the ability to leave grades for them.  Grades can also be posted as assignments and projects are turned in.

You can have a backchannel discussion within your course.
This came on board back in 2014. This is a great tool to use for discussions that remain private within the course. Students can see each other’s comments and you as the instructor can respond as well or guide a discussion with inquiries.  

You can transfer a course, invite collaborators, and duplicate a course.

Being able to duplicate a course as well as transfer a course is huge! This can save you or a colleague so much time! Course creators can also invite a collaborator.  This allows you to build a course together with a team member. These options can be found under the settings wheel in iTunesU in the upper right corner on a Mac.

If your students all have iPads, learning itunesU is a must! It’s a straight forward platform that continues to improve with time.  Having all your assignments, resources, and iBooks in one place is a seamless way to manage your one to one iPad environment.