Guide to e-book formats

FORMAT   Can this format be...
(suffix) uses ...edited? ...reflowed (fonts can be re-sized) when reading? ...highlighted? ...annotated? ...printed? ...viewed on portable devices? on computer with...
.DOC Microsoft Word format YES, with Microsoft Word YES, following this procedure in MS Word. YES (Word) YES (comments in MS Word) YES, but it is easily messed... No. MS Word
.PDF typographic format NO. NO. It's the most rigid format. The only e-readers that reflow PDF are Sony PRS T1 and T2. NOT usually (FoxIt Pro can do it) NOT ususally (FoxIt Pro can do it) YES. best results of all formats. The document prints exactly as indended by its author. This is the format of choice used by typographies. NOT usually. When possible, the page is too small and it needs constant zooming and panning to be viewed. Acrobat Reader.Fox-It Pro.
.EPUB e-reader format (Sony, Nook, Kobo) NO. YES. YES, on most e-readers and programs. YES, on most e-readers and programs. NOT meant primarily for printing. YES. This is the most widely used format in Europe. It is read by e-readers like Sony, Kobo, Nook, Iriver. The vast majority of ebooks are available in EPUB. Calibre. Adobe Digital Editions.
.MOBI e-reader format. (Kindle.) NO. YES. YES, on the Kindle. YES, on the Kindle. NOT meant primarily for printing. YES. This is the format used by Kindle. Mobipocket. Calibre.
.DJVU PC-based DejaVu ebooks. NO NO NO NO YES NO DJVu format is very similar to PDF, but the files are much smaller and load faster. Readable with WinDJVu
.LIT PC-based e-books NO. YES. NO NO NO NO Microsoft Reader
.CRB format for comics and manga NO. NO. NO. NO. YES. NOT usually. When possible, the page is too small and it needs constant zooming and panning to be viewed. Comics Display Ex.Comic Rack.

Software to be used to open these formats on your computer

Scroll page down to see screenshots of the software.

(click on name to download)
...reads format: Cost Highlight Annotations Dictionary Library of e-books Other
Calibre EPUB -primarily
free Only bookmarks (not very visible) NO YES, by connecting online to Dictionary YES. Calibre makes a library of all your ebooks. You can easily search them by author, title, language or label. Creates a great Library of all your books (EPUB, MOBI and PDF), that you can search by author, title, genre, labels.
If you have an e-Reader, then Calibre is the tool used to transfer the files from your computer to the e-reader.
Adobe Digital Editions EPUB free YES, highlight and Bookmark YES, annotations in floating boxes NO YES. Clickable Table of Contents in the left panel. Read-aloud, if third-party software installed.
Reader for PC (Sony) EPUB free YES, only with annotations YES. NO YES, basic Has variants for tablets and smartphones with Android. Two-page view.
CoolReader EPUB free NO YES, annotations in a large floating table (but no markings in the text!) NO YES. Unique features: You can modify the font contrast (gamma), the line height. You can change the font type (Arial, Georgia...) and color, and even the background (old paper, textile). You can read in a two-page format. May run on Android (on smartphones).
AZARDI EPUB free YES NO   YES (basic) Has variants for Linux * Mac. For bigger screens (PC) you can use a 2- or 3- or 4-column format. Two-page view. You can view all your annotations in a separate pane (see below). Useful when you want to read a quotation in class. No SEARCH function!
FoxIT Reader PDF free YES, with markers of different colours and with 3 types of underlining ( YES. On the margins (="textbox"), or as bubbles (="callout").   NO Limited editing (by line). Only PDFs that are authorized can be edited & annotated. Read aloud (reads your text aloud). Integration with Facebook.
MobiPocket Reader MOBI - primarily
free YES, plus right-hand panel with all the highlights YES Colins Dinctionary YES. Searchable library of all your ebooks. Allows you to change the text of the file!
All annotations and changes are accepted only if you have opened the file in the Library first!
Has variants for Blackberry, for PDAs and for smartphones with Symbian OS and Windows Mobile operating systems.
Microsoft Reader LIT format free YES NO NO NO .
WinDJVu Reader DJV free YES (after selection, right-click to highlight) YES (after selection, right-click and select "Bookmark") NO NO Thumbnails. Magnifying glass for details. Table of Contents in the left panel.
Comic Rack CRB, CBZ - comics format free NO NO NO NO Needs .NET Framework 2.0 or higher to be installed (if you run Windows XP).
Has thumbnail view, various zoom modes, autorotation (for tablets). But it's slow...
Comical CRB, CBZ - comics format free NO NO NO NO Basic. Has thumbnails of the pages...
Sumatra Reader PDF
CRB, CBZ - comics format
free NO NO NO NO Basic. Has thumbnails of the pages. Slow...

Some screenshots demonstrating the possibilities of software


for EPUB

Adobe Digital Editions

for EPUB

Sony Reader for PC

for EPUB


for EPUB

The highlight above is unfortunately not permanent. But annotations are.

Cool Reader with "old paper" background and two-page format.


for EPUB

On the right you have the Table of Contents in transparent overlay.

Azardi - the Annotation View panel. You can see all your notes here.

MobiPocket Reader

for MOBI (and EPUB)

FoxIt Reader

for PDF


for DJVu

Microsoft Reader

for LIT

CD Display Ex

for CBR

An e-Reader (Sony PRS T2)

Note how the device does not emit any light. This allows you to read in full sunscreen (on the terrace, on the beach...).
Due to its low consumption, the battery of the e-reader lasts for 6 to 8 weeks!

The file shown here is a PDF (non-native to Sony), which Sony is able to reflow (you can enlarge fonts without zooming in).