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.epub Simplified

Zipped Website Container/Organizer for the eReader

If the book you are writing were a web site, it would have parts like:

  • Words
  • Pictures
  • Fonts
  • Links

So ..., "yourbook.epub" could be opened in an Apple iPad, for instance, as a book container with all those parts inside (and maybe more).

How to Reformat a Manually Formatted Document for ePub

Why is this important?

The vast majority of word processor users format as they go when drafting their work. From a publisher's prospective this is a bad habit and a huge waste of the author's time.

Controlling the look and feel of body text and headings should be globally set using paragraph styles. By setting paragraph styles globally, the author allows for sweeping changes to be made at a very fine level of control.

Keep in mind that all your font and size choices will be thrown out by the .epub ereader device. In other words, the iPad will offer fonts and sizes that work well with the screen. YOUR TASK is to tell the device "this is Body Text", or "this is a Heading 1", etc.

How to strip out manual formatting

  1. The cleanest way to strip out manual formatting is to copy and paste the entire document into a simple text editor like NotePad or TextEdit. Choose a simple text editor that does not support the fancy tweaks that manual formatting could hide.
  2. Save the newly pasted simple text document as a .txt file.
  3. The word processors: Open Office, Apple-Pages, and MS-Word can all open .txt files. Open the .txt file with the more robust word processor of your choice and apply formatting styles via the paragraph styles selector.

  4. Set your paragraph styles


    a) Your initial text should already be identified by your word processor as 'Default', 'Body', or 'Normal' which are just different terms for the same thing.
    b) Your task should be to identify which paragraphs in your document are the Chapter (Heading 1) and Sub-Chapter (Heading 2) paragraph styles, and so on. Be conservative.
    c) When you test your final .epub in the target ereader device make sure to check to see if any styles were not supported.


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Every quality word processor should have an 'Export' or 'Save As' feature for the .epub file extension and structure.

Apple's iWork Pages software is ideally suited to this export feature evolution because it already works well with the XML code that .epub uses.

MS-Word has an excuse for being slow to adopt the Export as EPUB feature because of their .docx court case setback.

More in the future ...