Introduction to Accessible Ebook Production – Reflowable Ebooks

Reflowable books are the most flexible types of EPUB, and they can incorporate many accessibility features that all readers can benefit from. This brief introduction to reflowable ebooks discusses the benefits of this format.

  • Subject(s):

    Ebook Production

  • Resource Type(s):

    Foundations and Rationale

  • Audience:


Suggested Prerequisite

Before reading this, you might want to review:

Reflowable Ebooks

You’ve decided to create an ebook that is as accessible as possible, and so you’d like it to be reflowable. When an ebook is reflowable, readers can customize how they view the text (the layout) in many ways, which gives them agency over their reading experience.

When an ebook is formatted with a reflowable layout, the contents of the page will automatically adjust both to the orientation of the device (i.e., whether it is being held landscape/lengthwise or portrait/widthwise) and to its screen size. If desired, readers can also enlarge the text size, change the colour of the text and/or the background, as well as adjust spatial elements such as margins, line spacing, and justification. For many readers, being able to make these types of adjustments is integral to their comfort reading, but it is especially important for those users who have print disabilities.

InDesign allows its users to easily export a book file as either a “fixed-layout” (see Next Steps for more details) or “reflowable” EPUB — you simply choose one or the other. If your book is not image heavy or doesn’t include a lot of text boxes, we recommend choosing reflowable in order to be accessible to the widest reading market. The ability to customize how an ebook displays makes the reading experience better for everyone.

Next Steps


Learning About Fixed Layout Books

Introduction to Accessible Ebook Production: Fixed Layout Format

Fixed layout books can’t have as many accessiblity features as reflowable books, but there are steps to take to ensure the book is as accessible as possible! This brief introduction to making accessible, fixed layout…

Subject(s): Ebook Production
Resource Type(s): Standards and Best Practices

External Links to More Information

NNELS Best Practices for Publisher Workflows

An overview of several best practices for creating an EPUB with good markup for accessibility, with suggestions on how to begin integrating them into a publisher workflow. It includes fixed layout versus reflowable, using EPUB version 3, images, headings, tables, capitalization, metadata, language and several other items.

Evaluating Your EPUB’s Accessibility

This page gives an overview of how to run an Ace report and test a book using a screen reader on a mobile device. It discusses checking accessibility of elements including fixed layout, image descriptions, well structured headings, table of contents, footnotes and endnotes, and others. It finishes with a discussion of metadata both in and alongside the EPUB, and briefly covers multimedia.

Reflowable vs Fixed Layout – Which is the Best Layout for your eBook

Reflowable and fixed layout format both offer certain features that you may need for your book, depending on your content and layout needs. This page breaks down the two types and compares them.