Images in manuscript for e-book novel

Hoping someone can help.
My father has previously self-published a novel based on the WWII diaries of his own father in paperback. He’s now grappling, with my help, with publishing to e-book: kindle and epub.

Having done quite a lot of research I recommended Scrivener to him and bought it myself so I could help him out - being a bit more familiar with using and learning apps than he is. I’m in the process of re-creating his MS using the e-book Parts template.
All seems to be going well as far as text is concerned, but I’m not sure about the photos. There are a couple of dozen of them, all black and white, so I would love to avoid making too many silly mistakes.
Some photos previously occupied a whole page, others approx half a page, each photo with a brief description underneath.
Questions so far:

  1. Any advice on the best format, size (file size) and dimensions I should change the photos to before importing them into Scrivener? Or can I import them as they are and then use the scale image option? If so what dimensions are best?

  2. What should I be aware of in terms of placing the photos within the text with regard to how they will affect the readability of the compiled ebook? For example, is it wiser to set them up to always occupy a whole page?

  3. Anything else I should bear in mind?

Please point me at threads where this has been discussed at length before - I have looked but it seems what I want to know is a bit too simple!

Many thanks

Most reader displays will resize the images so that they can be shown on the display, no matter how small. So even if you include an image that is larger than the size of a Blackberry of iPhone screen, it will be shrunk down to fit. What you want to target for is the largest size out there currently, so that it looks crisp rather than being expanded. Shrinking images is easier to do in terms of quality, over expanding them. 800x600 is a good rule of thumb for full page graphics, though some are now advocating a larger size in order to anticipate the future, when commonly used reader hardware is closer to print in terms of resolution. It’s up to you whether to target for what currently exists, or to target for the future. If you target for what currently exists, you risk pictures being smaller in five or ten years—or releasing an update with larger graphics at that time. Format doesn’t matter a whole lot, as Scrivener will convert everything to a single format in the end. Just drop in whatever works.

Image scaling in Scrivener is an option I would only recommend if you do not have another good way of resizing images. It uses ‘directive’ resizing instead of pixel resizing. So if you taking something that is 5,000 pixels wide and tell it to compile at 600 pixels wide, the image itself in terms of data will still be 5,000 pixels wide, but told to display at 600 pixels wide—thus you have wasted a bunch of space and download time for the e-book. It’s best to import the images at the size you want them at, and leave them alone in the editor.

On placement: it’s difficult to predict what will be “full screen” since e-books can be displayed in such a variety of ways. Full screen on a Kindle Fire might be totally different from full screen on an Android phone that is being held sideways. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. The reader has too much control over the presentation to really enforce presentation like you can in a printed book.

Many many thanks for these pearls of wisdom! I really appreciate the time you took to answer my question in detail.

One more thing . . .

As far as placing the photos in the ms, the novel- parts template has a Part - Chapter - Scene hierarchy. Should I place the photos into a scene separate from the main body of text, though in the right order obviously, or within the text, or doesn’t it matter either way?


There isn’t a right or wrong answer to that. Either way you can make the output look as though it were a continuous text file, depending upon your compile settings, so the advantage is up to organisational power in Scrivener. It’s design philosophy works better in smaller pieces, and indeed putting special objects like figures and tables in their own documents can be helpful as you can label them specially and then search for those labels to get lists of figures and tables while working. It also means you can more easily link to these items in your e-book using cross-referencing Scrivener Links. These require a sectional break to link to something (they can’t link to some arbitrary point within a document). Thus if you intend to refer to the photography at various points in the text in such a way that an e-book reader to select the link in the page and jump to it—that’s a valuable way of organising your draft. I’d say the only major cons are it that it requires more up-front organisational work, more splitting and file handling, and on the compile end, a little more attention to the settings—but these are in my opinion fairly mild negatives.

My apologies for not having thanked you sooner for your reply. Thanks!

I’ve edited all the photos to 800 by 600 at 72dpi, however when I come to insert the photos I’m getting weird stuff happening such as only a portion of the photos being visible. For e.g. the bottom 20% will be cut off.

I assume this will be because I’m very confused about page layout - since I’m not doing any writing but just laying out my father’s text in the template I want to have as much of an idea of what the compiled text will look like in advance. I also assumed that working with the template would achieve this.

So how do the various settings interact with the template? For eg, on the Compose Prefs page it says, that paper margins are 50px left/right and top/bottom, but on the Editor Prefs page it says the margins are 20px all round with the editor width set to 700px. . . . and then the custom page size is width 5", Height 7.75" with 0.6" all round margins.

I’m really confused as to what’s influencing what I’m seeing?

thanks again!

Not… quite. That’s not the type of program this is. Scrivener is really focussed on the writing aspect, and only has minimal presentation features. In fact most of the templates will result in output that look nothing at all like what you see in the text editor. This is almost always going to be true for e-books, which usually hand over many typesetting and aesthetic choices over to the reader, not the author.

In fact, many of the people using this software for actual output production are doing some post-editing in software designed for that, such as word processors, InDesign, e-pub editors, and HTML editors. Scrivener’s focus is really more on the one or twelve years you spend writing the thing—not the 8 or 12 hours you spend making it look nice. So it would only be fair of me to warn you that you’re using a sledgehammer to hang a painting on the wall. :slight_smile:

It’s got some finishing tools, let me be clear, but they are all in the “compiler”, not the editor. Since you’re not involved in the process of writing, and are using the program to essentially make an e-book, I would recommend you devote your learning to the portions of the manual on compilation. You’ll need a little understanding of how an outline works in Scrivener, too, as most of the important compile structure to book structure conversion features involve an understanding of that.

This is exactly what I mean. The Composition mode has nothing to do with paper coming out of a printer, or even an e-book. The 50 pixels are there purely for your own aesthetic pleasure while staring at it until 3am in a feverish writing session. Even the “Page View” mode is really more of an aesthetic model than a literal preview of anything.

Finally, also in that same vein, “templates” in Scrivener are more often less about the final look of a document and more about providing structural concepts for writing the book. They provide the new user a way to see how the software can be used to evolve various different forms of outline structures and data models for the supporting research and such. Some do have some export finesse (the non-fiction essay style guide-based templates for instance), but again that’s all in the compiler. The editor looks the same no matter what project you are working on.

Once again, many many thanks for taking the time to spell all this out for me.