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Last updated: June 7, 2023

There are a range of different formats - each with different levels of accessibility depending on how the file was made. Readers might prefer familiar formats (like Word or PDF) or formats that offer more portability across devices (like EPUB). For readers with disabilities the flexibility of the format is very important so EPUB is attractive but no single format guarantees accessibility.

  1. EPUB
  2. DAISY
  3. MP3
  4. DOC
  5. RTF
  6. PDF
  7. Other


EPUB is the mainstream ebook format, and also the most accessible format when made properly. EPUB files can be read in any desired way: with a Braille display, text-to-speech, a larger screen display or with an easier-to-read font. In other words, the all-in-1 reading format!

The default format produced by NNELS is accessible EPUB 3. EPUB 3 embraces all accessibility features present in the DAISY standard and much more. EPUB is available for many titles in the repository, especially when contributed by, or purchased from, a publisher. These files will vary in regards to their accessibility, depending on how the publisher makes them. Files in the NNELS repository will have accessibility tags, which relay the accessibilty features of the file as provided by the publisher.

EPUB is a HTML-based, platform-independent ebook format, which is highly adaptable. EPUB files are readable with any e-reading software, including newer DAISY players and Kurzweil. 

EPUB can be read on a range of devices with text-to-speech and other visual modifications (such as enlarging text size, changing font type, contrast, etc.) if required by the reader. 


DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) has been replaced by EPUB. DAISY is a specialised format for people with print disabilites. 

DAISY books may include:

  • both text and audio: These titles permit full-text searching. These titles include synthetic narration files and can be identified in the NNELS catalogue by the narrator containing the word "synthetic". Some software or devices will ignore the pre-made audio in favour of built-in text-to-speech features. The pre-made synthetic audio files are most useful for very old devices that do not support text-to-speech.
  • audio only: Navigation is typically limited to chapter or page navigation and there is no full-text searching. 
  • text only: The text can be read by software or a device that uses text-to-speech capabilities. For text only books, we recommend EPUB.

DAISY 2.02 is an older standard and these books work with older DAISY players. DAISY 3 books are most likely to work with newer devices.

DAISY can be burned to CDs (see our Burn a DAISY disc tutorial) and unlike traditional audiobooks which can be on 10 or more CDs, the contents of DAISY audiobooks usually fit onto a single CD (so long as they are burned as "data" rather than "audio" or "music"), making them easy to handle by people who can't read the CD numbers of traditional audiobooks. While we do not produce CDs, please speak with your public library if you require titles in this format.

Most DAISY players are able to play DAISY discs, MP3 CDs, and regular audio CDs.

DAISY books can also be played on almost any computer or device using apps or software, and transferred between devices using USB sticks and SD cards

MP3 Audio

Live narration audiobooks in NNELS are in MP3 or DAISY audiobook format. 

MP3 audiobooks are compatible with almost any computer or device. They can be played on any device or app that can play audio files. 

MP3 audiobooks can also be burned onto a CD in the same way a DAISY book can, and DAISY players can play MP3 audiobooks.

Most newer CD players will play MP3 audiobooks, which will usually fit onto a single CD so long as they are burned as "data" CDs. Books that are larger than 700 MB will require more than one CD.

Older CD players may not work with MP3 audiobooks, and for these players, burn CDs as "audio" instead of "data". When creating "audio" CDs, the audiobook will likely not fit onto a single disc unless it is less than 80 minutes long. The number of CDs required is determined by the length of each track, and most blank CDs can accomodate 80 minutes of playing time. Therefore, these audiobooks need to be burned in batches of 80-minutes or less. Please call or write to us if you have questions (that's what we're here for).

All DAISY titles in NNELS contain MP3 audio files, so it is possible to create MP3 or traditional audiobooks from DAISY books. Please see the forum post on providing MP3 when only DAISY is available for more information.


Microsoft Word (DOC/DOCX format) is a popular format with users, as it is familiar, it has 500% magnification with reflow, can change foreground and background colours easily and is amenable to text to speech. DOC files can be opened in a variety of programs, not just Microsoft Word. 


The Rich Text Format (RTF) is a text file format that can be read with a variety of programs. Most word processors are able to read and write some versions of RTF.


PDF is typically requested when a reader would like the digital copy to look exactly like the print book. 

PDF is still a common file format for publishing, and most of the PDF files in NNELS come directly from publishers so the level of accessibility for PDFs will vary. Publisher-provided PDF files may not always work well with assistive technology due to fewer accessibility options with text reflow and navigation often being absent.

The PDF files in the repository should be text-readable (allowing text-to-speech reading), but it is common for us to change PDF files to a different format at the request of a reader.

Other Formats

NNELS can provide electronic text in any other electronic format to be used with refreshable Braille devices, or Braillers. The EPUB files that NNELS produces can be read using refreshable Braille devices.

We encourage Large Print users to make use of our DOCX and EPUB files (where text can be enlarged).

You may find BRF (Braille Ready Files) and other formats in the NNELS collection that we have acquired but generally do not produce. BRF is a standard format that renders contracted UEB Braille code onto a Braille display.

Hardcopy braille refers to novels or nonfiction that have been embossed or printed.

Print-braille refers to picture books that include the original printed text with the braille interleaved throughout.

If you need a specific format not listed, or need a format with certain specifications and it is not already available, please request it and we will do what we can.