Quality Assurance of Completed Ebooks

Once your ebook has been created, it is time to do a quality assurance check for accessibility. This resource contains both simplified and advanced checklists to help you review your ebooks.

  • Subject(s):

    Ebook Production

  • Resource Type(s):


  • Audience:


Quality Assurance of Completed Ebooks

Downloadable version of the checklists are at the bottom of this page.

When you perform Quality Assurance for an EPUB, whether it was created by a third-party conversion company or by someone in-house, it is important to review the completed books for accessibility. This will help ensure that all required accessibility features have been included, and the book meets your own standards. For front-list titles, you’ll likely want to review each one; for backlist remediation projects, you may wish to review a percentage instead (if numerous titles are done in a bulk project).

If you are working with a Global Certified Accessible conversion vendor, you can feel more confident that the items in the following checklist are met. Nevertheless, developing a workflow that includes checking for accessibility, regardless of the source of the ebook, is a great idea!

A Note on Fixed-Layout vs Reflowable Books

Whether your book is in fixed-layout format or reflowable, it needs to meet most of the same requirements. The only exception is that users will not be able to adjust and customize the appearance of a fixed layout book. This is something that should be noted in your accessibilitySummary metadata, but it is understood that this is a limitation of fixed layout. Everything else applies!

Simplified Checklist for Ebook Quality Assurance Checking

This checklist covers the basics — if you can say yes to each one, then your book meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Level AA, and the EPUB Accessibility Specification. (Downloadable version below.)

Simplified Checklist for Ebook QA

Add alt-text for all non-decorative imagesRequired
Ensure that decorative images are properly marked upRecommended
Ensure that the book’s content is in the correct reading sequenceRequired
Ensure that headings are marked up as HTML headings, and cascade in the correct orderRequired
Update the <title> elements for each document, so that they are descriptiveRequired
Ensure that links have useful link textRequired
Ensure that internal links (like links from the table of contents, of between foot/endnotes and the text) are workingRequired
Ensure that if there are footnotes or endnotes, the user can easily return to the text from the note (either by linking the note number, or by adding a link with text like “Return to text”)Required
Add language declarations to the OPF <package> element, and to the <html> element for each documentRequired
Mark up language shifts where appropriateRequired
Ensure that accessibility metadata is includedRequired
Ensure that all text styling and spacing comes from the CSS — no inline styling should be usedRequired
Ensure that the book opens to the cover pageRecommended
Use ARIA rolesRecommended
Set the title page as text, if possible — if not, be sure to add alt-textRecommended (Note: if the title page is set as an image, alt-text is required)
If possible, add page navigation and a page listRequired
Mark context breaks up with an <hr/> elementRecommended
Ensure that all text and background (even images of text) meet colour contrast requirementsRequired
Ensure that <b>, <i>, <strong>, and <em> are used appropriatelyRccommended

Advanced Checklist for Ebook Quality Assurance Checking

If you are a little more comfortable with EPUB, and want to be confident that you are going above and beyond when it comes to including accessibility features, use this checklist. It includes some additional features, and also breaks some features down. (Downloadable version below.)

Advanced Checklist for Ebook QA

EPUB VersionIs the book in EPUB 3 format?Recommended
Is the book reflowable (not fixed layout)?Recommended
If the book is in fixed layout, does it need to be? (i.e., is it an image-heavy publication?)Required
LanguageDoes the element of the OPF file have an xml:lang attribute that specifies the language of the metadata?Required
Is the <dc:language> tag listed in the metadata section of the OPF file, with the correct language of the book?Required
Is the language declared in the <html> tag at the top of each content document, with both the lang and xml:lang attributes?Required
Are passages in a secondary language marked up with lang and xml:lang attributes?Recommended
Accessibility metadataAccessibility metadataRequired
Image descriptionsIf the cover page is set as an image, is it described?Required
If the title page is set as an image, is the textual information included in the alt-text?Required
Are logos described?Required
Are all other non-decorative images described?Required
Are decorative images coded with an empty alt attribute and an ARIA role of "presentation"?Required
Colour contrastIs there sufficient colour contrast between text and background? (Note that this also applies to images of text)Required
Page navigationDoes the book have page navigation?Required
Is a page list included in the navigation file?Required
If the page numbering is based on a print edition, is the pagination source included in the OPF file?Required
Are page breaks coded with proper markup so they can be read by assistive technology?Required
Document titlesDo the <title> tags of content documents accurately describe their content?Required
HeadingsAre HTML headings (<h1> to <h6>) used for every section that has a heading (like parts, chapters, etc.)?Required
Are <section> tags with ARIA roles or aria-labels used for sections without headings (like cover, title page, etc.)?Required
Is a single heading used for each section, even if it breaks over two lines?Required
Have all heading tags been used correctly? (i.e., heading tags only mark up headings, and are not used to force text to look a certain way visually)Required
Is heading hierarchy correct?Required
SectionsAre <section> tags used for main sections of the book?Recommended
NavigationCan all documents listed in the spine section of the OPF file be reached from the navigation pane?Required
Is the list of sections in the navigation file organized hierarchically, using nested lists if applicable?Required
If the book has a table of contents in the body matter, are entries linked?Recommended
If the book has a table of contents in the body matter, are entries organized hierarchically in a list, similar to the navigation file?Recommended
TablesIf there are tables, are they marked up correctly?Required
If there are images of tables, is an HTML version available elsewhere, such as a long description?Required
If tables have captions at the beginning, has a <caption> tag been used to associate the caption with the table?Recommended
Does the book use CSS for laying out text, instead of forcing?Required
LinksIf the book includes URLs in the text, are they marked up as links?
If the book includes URLs in the text, are they marked up as links?
Is link text descriptive and concise?Required
Footnotes and endnotesAre footnote and endnote references linked to their corresponding notes?Required
Do footnotes and endnotes have a link to return to their note reference in the text?Required
If there are footnotes, are they marked up using <aside> tags?Recommended
Block quotationsAre block quotations marked up with <blockquote> tags?Recommended
EmphasisIs emphasized content marked up with proper semantic elements (e.g., <em>, <i>, <b>, <strong>)Recommended
Drop capsIf there are drop caps, does the code in content documents avoid splitting words with <span> tags?Recommended
CapitalizationIf there Is content in all capital letters, is it marked up correctly (i.e., using the font-variant:small-caps in the CSS)?Recommended
Text stylingDoes all styling come from CSS? (There should be no inline styling)Required
SidebarsIf there are sidebars, are they marked up with <aside> tags?Required
FiguresIf there is content with captions (such as illustrations, photographs, etc.), is it the image marked up with a <figure> element, and the caption with <figcption>?Recommended
ListsAre lists used to mark up sections like table of contents, bibliographies, and indexes?Recommended
If there are obvious lists of items in the body matter of the book, are they marked up as lists, and not paragraphs?Recommended
Context breaksIf there are context breaks, are they marked up with <hr/> elements?Recommended
Media overlaysIf the book includes media overlays, are they synchronized with the text?Required
If the book includes media overlays, are skippable and escapable structures marked up?Required

Download the Checklist

Both the simplified and advanced checklists are available at this link.

Next Steps


Creating Accessibility Metadata for an ONIX Record

Introduction to ONIX Metadata for Ebooks (and the Supply Chain)

This resource discusses the importance of ONIX accessibility metadata, and shares an example of the accessibility section of an ONIX file.

Subject(s): Metadata
Resource Type(s): Foundations and Rationale, Standards and Best Practices

External Links to More Information

EPUB Accessibility 1.0

This specification discusses discovery and accessibility of EPUB publications. Discovery relates to accessibility metadata. Accessibility includes guidelines in WCAG 2.0 and some additional items on page navigation and media overlays. The specification also discusses how to indicate conformance, information about optimized publications for specific use cases such as audiobooks, and a short section on distribution considerations.

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