How to Choose an iBooks Author Template

How to Choose an iBooks Author Template
Mac Tip #522, 08 February 2012

Apple is leading the pack again — this time with a new ebook authoring tool that pushes the limits of ebook publishing. iBooks Author makes it easy for Mac users to create “multi-touch” ebooks that combine text, images, video, and interactive elements with finely tuned page layouts. Our Guest Author, Maria Langer explains how to choose an iBooks Author template.

iBooks Author is a free 137 MB download from the App Store. It requires Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later.

Maria Langer. Maria Langer is the author of more than 80 books and hundreds of articles about using computers since 1990. Her reader-friendly writing style has made her popular with fans worldwide. Visit her on the Web at

Templates are consistent

In iBooks Author, all the books you create are based on a template. A template is a collection of page layouts, placeholder images, and paragraph and character styles.

When you create a new document, you use the Template Chooser shown below to pick the one you want. Then, in your new document, you replace the placeholder content with your own content.

The benefit of using templates is that they make it very easy to consistently format your document with an interesting design. And, through the use of a wide range of customization options, you can personalize a template so it has little resemblance to the stock version.

Some templates are better for certain types of books

Choosing a template might be the most important thing you do in preparation to create your book. Why? Well mostly because you can’t change your mind about the template you want to use after you’ve begun working. If you want to use a different template, you have to start all over with the new one. Choose wisely!

You might be wondering how to decide which template is the best choice for your book. In general, it’s a matter of taste. Some templates, however, are better for certain types of books than others. For example, you might find the Basic and Modern Type templates better suited for mostly text documents than the Art History and Craft templates.

You can preview all of the templates to make a better-informed decision by creating a new document based on each of them. You can then view the layouts and styles available in each document window to get an idea of how they might work with your content.

iBooks Author Template Chooser.

iBooks Author Template Chooser.

When you decide on the one you want, simply close the other five windows without saving them, leaving the window containing the template you want to use open. Or close that, too, and create a brand new document based on the template you want.

Which template to choose

Here are a few of my observations regarding the templates that come with iBooks Author:

  • Basic has a very serious style that’s well suited for works that are academic or otherwise serious in nature. Only one of the template layouts has a placeholder image. It uses a very legible, very conservative serif typeface thoughout.
  • Contemporary, which is the template I use for the exercises throughout my iBooks Author book, is a bit more modern. Several of its layouts include big or bright placeholder images. The font is sans-serif, perhaps a bit on the small side for good legibility.
  • Modern Type is also modern (as you might expect from its name). Its big, colored chapter pages remind me of school textbooks that were trying to be fun. The font is sans-serif and larger than the font in Contemporary. Liberal use of graphic rules make each page visually interesting, even without images.
  • Classic, like Basic, has a serious style with a serif font. Page backgrounds are an off-white color. Three of the layouts include placeholder images, and there are a few flourishes to add more interest to certain layouts.
  • Editorial is similar to Contemporary, in that it includes large placeholder images on four of the layout pages. It uses a serif font and color is applied to some of the styles. It also makes use of bold graphic rules in many of the layouts.
  • Craft has rather delightful — a word I don’t use often — style to it. There are lots of images, each with 3D-looking frames that make them pop from the pages. Page backgrounds are green or off-white, giving it an almost earthy feel. A sans-serif typeface is used throughout. I can imagine this template being used for a photo book or travelogue.

Of course, you can add images and change text styles and sizes for any template, making any one of them suitable for your work. That’s one of the great things about iBooks Author: its flexibility.

Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll like the way it presents your content to the world.

Need a whole book about iBooks Author?

iBooks Author Guide by Maria Langer.

iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook, by Maria Langer.

iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook, the third title in the Maria’s Guides imprint for Flying M Productions, helps you learn how to take advantage of iBooks Author’s amazing feature set to create your own ebooks without a lot of trial and error experimentation. Using an illustrated, step-by-step approach, it guides you through the creation of a sample ebook with features you’re sure to want in your own ebook publications.

Are you using iBooks Author? Tell us in the Comments online how this Tip helped you.

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One Comment;

  1. Richard Cooley said:

    I purchased your ebook about iBooks Author from Apple and was surprised to see it was in the format much like the A. A. Milne book on the iBook store. Why didn’t you use iBooks Author to create the ebook about iBooks Author?

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