Common editing tasks
When you include images in ebooks, these are the most common things you’ll need to do so that they display correctly:
- Crop – to get the right proportions and to focus on the main subject
- Resize – to the correct dimensions – in pixels, not millimetres
- Change format – for instance, from PNG to JPG or another specified file format
- Reduce file size – to a size required by e-readers and to reduce overall ebook file size
Some conversion services will accept larger images in a variety of formats and will reduce their size and standardize them as part of the conversion process.
However, you’ll get better control over the output by preparing the images to the required specifications.
Some image-editing tools
You will need access to an image-editing tool. There are many image-editing programs available, including several good free ones. The options below are all excellent in their niches.
Adobe Photoshop is the professional’s image-editing tool of choice. It’s the industry standard for image editing and boasts far more power than casual users will need.
- Advantages: Every conceivable feature for every conceivable image editing job, including creating complex graphics from scratch. Available for PC or Mac.
- Disadvantages: Expensive (though you can buy a subscription for just a month or two which might be enough for a single project). Steep learning curve. Requires a fairly powerful computer.
Pilxr Advanced Editor
Pixlr is an online editor. You go to the website and do all of your editing online — there’s no software to install.
- Advantages: All the features you’ll need to do the major image editing tasks, accessible from any web browser, easy to use and free.
- Disadvantages: You must be online when using it, fairly basic feature set.
This is Photoshop without the price tag.
- Advantages: It’s free. It’s very powerful with enough features to satisfy professionals. If you need to create sophisticated images or extensively modify them, this is a tool that will be up to the job. And it will do all of the basics, too. Available for PC and Mac.
- Disadvantages: Like Photoshop, GIMP has a steep learning curve.
Worth a look if you have a lot of images to manage. IrfanView is very powerful but, unlike PhotoShop or GIMP, has very few tools for creating images. It’s really the workhorse you’ll need if you find you’re having to frequently generate new versions of your images in new sizes and formats.
- Advantages: It’s free. It has excellent batch processing (taking multiple images, applying a set of rules, and outputting new versions).
- Disadvantages: A sparse, technical-looking interface. Windows only, no Mac version. Narrow feature set.
The later versions of MS Word include a very capable and easy-to-use picture editor. While it’s not suitable for professional image editing use, and has some limitations for ebook use, it might be all you need for simple jobs.
Use 96dpi as the picture resolution. When you’ve finished editing in MS Word’s picture editor, right-click the image and Save As Picture to select the format and save the image.
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.