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Digital Publishing at Penn: Creating Multimodal and Born Digital Publications

A guide to developing short and long-form digital scholarly publications.

About this Guide

This guide is designed to help the Penn community navigate the digital publishing landscape and identify considerations for creating multimodal, born-digital, and hybrid publications, and how to leverage unique digital tools and platforms to support short- and long-form narrative.

Getting Started: Reading

Learn more about digital publishing considerations through the following resources: 



About Digital Publications

Digital publications offer pathways for scholars to leverage digital tools or research methods to support short- and long- form narrative. Digital publications can exist in many formats that support research and teaching, and may be developed as the main publication or as an ancillary to a print publication. Although e-pub and e-reader type publications have been available digitally for some time, authors' increased interest in embedding digital tools or resources in publications that would otherwise be flattened in print, like a video file, has led academic presses and libraries to develop platforms and establish editorial workflows to create digital publications that include multimodal resources.

Learn more about options for creating digital publications at Penn and beyond through the pages of this guide. 

Digital Publication Formats

Digital publications offer unique affordances for publishing scholarship by enabling authors to articulate scholarly ideas through innovative uses of interactive digital tools, data, and multimedia enhancements. Academic libraries and presses acquire and support the development of a broad range of publication types including monographs, journals, novella (mid-length) projects, and special projects with varying amount of text. There are multiple approaches to translating these publication types into digital formats: Some of the main formats include: 

  • Multimodal: Publications that include multimodal digital resources like audio or video files, interactive enhancements, linked digitized materials, and other items that would be flattened in a print publication. 
  • Born-digital: Publications that are created to be exclusively digital, and not in parallel to or supporting a print edition.
  • Hybrid: Publications intended to exist in both digital and print editions; if the digital edition includes multimodal resources, the print edition may be slightly different due to formatting limitations, however the text of the editions is typically the same. 
  • Ancillary: A digital companion project for a print publication; this is typically shorter in length 
  • Iterative: A digital publication developed and published in iterative steps; this may lead to a future monograph publication and serve as a way to distribute content in advance of completing the project, or be the publication choice. 
  • Enhanced: A publication that enhances text with additional links or embedded resources. 
  • OER (Open Educational Resource): Publications designed for use in teaching, developed for or during a class. 

Learn More

Penn Libraries currently supports several digital publishing platforms. For more information, or to arrange a consultation on a digital publication for research or teaching, or a class visit or workshop, please reach out to the Contemporary Publishing Fellow.  

Get in Touch

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Cosette Bruhns-Alonso
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(215) 898-7555