Choosing the Right Format for Your Digital Magazine

publish digital magazine

There are digital magazines. And then there are stunning digital magazines that grab a reader’s attention and makes it hard to skip through the content.

Yeah, it’s tricky!

Seemingly small nuances help in transforming an ordinary magazine into an extraordinary one, design format being one of them. Thus, picking the right file format serves as a major attribute for a successful outcome.

With plenty of available options, it becomes essential to select the one that best suits your needs. While selecting, you need to take several aspects into consideration such as-

  • Target audience
  • Level of interactivity
  • Cost of implementation
  • The device used by readers
  • Publishing platforms

This article presents a quick review of three most commonly used formats for publishing digital magazines.


PDF (Portable Document Format) with the extension .pdf was invented by Adobe Systems. It is one of the oldest and widely used digital file formats because of easy creation and distribution methods.

Due to very less variation in PDF documents, a large number of tools exist to design, edit and save PDFs. These documents are best read on tablet or computer screens but not compatible with small screen reading such as mobile phones. While reading on a smaller screen, the reader ends up scrolling and zooming and this degrades their reading experience.

Reasons, why these documents are preferred, include the fact that after creation, these documents can be seamlessly read across multiple devices and operating systems. Once designed, the users are unable to make alterations in design. Also, they can be easily exported and converted to other desired file formats. Besides, the implementation cost is very less and they can be easily upgraded to interactive PDFs by embedding hyperlinks, buttons, videos, text, maps, and so on.

The downside of PDF documents includes their fixed-layout, inability to correct errors or edit, and readability issues on small screens.

Considering its limitations, its best advised creating digital magazines comprising of interactive PDF files with optimized images, infographics, and less of text. This will enhance the user experience even on the smaller screens.

You may choose to distribute them to the audience as an email attachment or a clickable link or publish via a website or send it separately as a downloadable app issue.


EPUB (Electronic Publication) file format with the extension .epub is maintained by International Digital Publishing Platform Forum (IDPF). It has become a standard eBook file format and supported by the majority of the eReaders including Apple’s iBooks, Aldiko on Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, and hundreds of others.

It has an advantage over PDF as it optimizes text for different displays and presents dynamic experience. It allows both reflowing content and fixed-layout. In addition, editing and modifying content is easier in EPUB. While in the case of a PDF, we need to create a new document every time we need to incorporate modifications.

Being created as a simple version of XHTML with CSS, it provides interactivity in terms of hyperlinks, styled fonts, images, and other objects. Its production cost range from nearly the same as PDFs to marginally higher. Using compatible software, these files can be easily designed and read. The designed files can then be accessed through multiple screen sizes- smartphone, computer, or tablet.

They are distributed in the form of a zip file containing archived content. They may be delivered in the form of digital magazines to all the major eBook stores and other online eBook marketplaces. Or you can directly distribute through your own website.  



HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) with the extension .html is the standard markup language. It helps in creating structured documents with the help of available HTML elements and constructs.

The major high point of these documents is the advantage of search engine indexing and on-screen appearance. Besides, it is convenient to integrate these pages into existing web applications.

With its immense popularity and wide acceptability, the design is supported by many WYSIWYG editors where the user works on an easy to use graphical user interface and lays out exactly what he or she wants the page to look like.

Interactivity can be directly added in terms of images, videos, hyperlinks, tables, maps, animations, hover effects, and a variety of other enhancements. It also supports easy modifications in case of information update or error correction. Production cost varies from modest to much higher ranges depending upon the nature of content to be HTMLized.

Unlike the above two formats, there is no fixed-layout in HTML pages and they don’t support offline accessibility. Thus, it is difficult for the user to save the page for a later visit. Often the page management process is a tedious task in HTML documents and requires expertise or polished skills.

The designed HTML pages are rendered as engaging multimedia web pages and are instantly viewable by anyone through a browser with no additional plugin requirement. When published as online magazines, they are also termed as HTML Flipbooks having an effect of flipping over the magazine pages. (This can be further enriched by adding the sound of flipping pages while the transition happens).

We have listed three most favorable and modern formats for creating digital magazines. Take time to focus, analyze, and test to successfully choose the best fit. With the appropriate file format at your assistance, strategize your business policies and attract more readers.

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