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What is the difference between viewing eBooks in PDF and EPUB formats online?

There are a few differences in the online eBook viewer depending on whether you are viewing an eBook in PDF or EPUB format.

  • Linking: EPUB is an HTML-based format, so it may contain links within the text, either to other sections of the book, from the index to relevant pages, and out to the open web.

  • Reflowable Text: When viewing EPUB format eBooks online, the text will “reflow” depending on the viewing window. This means it will re-size and change shape to fit the size and shape of the screen, like a webpage.

  • Accessibility: EPUBs are more accessible for impaired readers than PDFs – they function better with screen reading software.

  • Pagination: With reflowable text, there is a difference in the way that the pages are rendered, because each time the text or window changes, the number of pages also changes. Publishers handle this differently – some embed pages to match the print or PDF version, and some leave them out entirely. Thus, the EPUB viewer may not display a page number, and you may not be able to jump to a specific page in the text. Instead, you can navigate using the Table of Contents or using embedded links.

  • Zoom In/Out: The zoom in/out tools have been removed from the EPUB viewer because the text resizes automatically.

As this platform of delivery grows, we are working on future updates and enhancements. If you have comments or questions, tell us what you think by emailing

PDFs are not reflowable, so their text size cannot be adjusted for display on various devices. PDF is preferred in some citation style guides, so we will continue to provide this format for all academic eBook content. (Note: Many citation manuals enable chapter or section citations for EPUB titles. Be sure to check the requirements of your required citation style, professor, or academic journal).