The Easiest Way to Create a Book Using Pressbooks

It’s no secret Pressbooks is one of the easiest ways to create your book files for ebook publishing, and keep control of these files and where you publish them.

But lately, many of you have asked us what’s the easiest way to get your manuscript into our ebook creation software. Though we’ve created lots of documentation on this subject, we realized it’s probably too much to digest all at once. So here’s some clarification, and an abridged guide to formatting an ebook (and print book) on Pressbooks:

If Your Book Isn’t Written

That’s no problem! If you haven’t written your book yet, the easiest, cleanest option is to write your book directly in Pressbooks. If you create a book this way, you’ll have nothing to clean up in Word before importing your manuscript and minimal finessing on the Pressbooks side later.

If You Have a Manuscript in Word – Method 1

If your manuscript is already in a Word doc, and you have some formatting you want to keep, the safest, easiest method is to copy and paste it chapter by chapter. This seems counterintuitive, but doing this manually will save time manually cleaning up each imported chapter in Pressbooks. When you do this, Pressbooks will keep the good formatting (the formatting that will work in an ebook) and strip out any hidden code like span tags from Word. (These tags are notorious for causing formatting problems in ebooks.) Read this article in our user guide to learn more about span tags and other “bad” markup.

Here’s a video that demonstrates exactly how to import your manuscript using this method.

Taking Your Book from Word Into Pressbooks – Method 2

If you have a really long book, or a relatively clean Word document to begin with (meaning very little formatting and with chapter headers styled using Word’s Styles menu), Pressbooks’ one-click importer is probably the better, faster option for you. This importer will still bring in the “good” formatting including bullets, bold, italics, H1, H2 and paragraph line breaks. For step-by-step directions on this method, go to our user guide chapter on importing your text from Word.

Paste as Text (not recommended)

There’s an icon with a “T” in the Pressbooks visual editor menu that will let you “paste as text.” There are use cases when that makes sense, but in general, we don’t recommend you use this button to import because it will strip out even the “good” formatting, and you’ll have to put it back.

Visual editor menu
Visual editor menu

Blog to Book

Finally, if you wish to import posts from your blog, that’s easy too. Export the posts you want in your book from your WordPress site. Download the resulting XML file to your desktop. In Pressbooks, go to Utilities -> Import. Upload the WordPress file. Step-by-step instructions on importing from WordPress are also found in the user guide.

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