In a previous post, I described how to get your ebook from Word into Sigil—a free EPUB editor—so that you can create a nice looking EPUB that you can upload to a variety of distributors. In today’s post, I’ll discuss how to style your ebook in Sigil.
Many of the steps in this post are based on Paul Salvette’s excellent tutorial, How to Make an Ebook with Sigil. I’ve broken down the steps further and provided more screen shots in those areas where I think it’s easy to get stuck. I’ve also suggested some “how-tos” and “why-tos.”
If you followed the instructions in last week’s post, you will have pasted your ebook into Sigil’s composing or editing window. It will look something like this:
|My ebook in Sigil|
After you’ve copied and pasted your document into Sigil, scroll through your book to see if it has retained its formatting. You can adjust any formatting using the toolbar in Sigil. I’ll walk you through the major features of the toolbar below.
To review, Sigil has two “views”: the Book View and the Code View. We’ll concern ourselves mostly with the Book View for now because working in Book View is very much like working in Word.
|Book View (red arrow) and Code View (highlighted in yellow)|
If you’re familiar with the ribbon in Word, you’ll find the tool bar in Sigil to be quite similar. It has all the features you need to style your ebook.
Styling Your Ebook in Sigil
Check your distributor’s guidelines for how their conversion software handles text alignment. Generally, it’s a good idea to left-justify your text (also called ragged right).
|Left-justify your text|
2. Style your headings.
This step is really important because Sigil will use your styled headings to generate an external table of contents (NCX) that readers can use to navigate your ebook. Style a heading by selecting it, or clicking in the middle of it and then clicking on one of the heading buttons:
|I used the h2 button to style this level 2 heading|
If you have a nonfiction book, you’ll have lots of headings, subheadings and sub-subheadings. If your book is fiction, your headings will be your book title and your chapter titles. I like to style headings first because it helps me to see where I need to break up my book. If you already styled your headings in Word, you can skip this step. I’ve noticed that heading styles are retained when you convert your Word .docx file to a Plain Text file.
3. Break up your book into chapters.
Up until now, your file is just one continuous “chapter” in Sigil. You want your book to be divided into chapters. Place the cursor where you want to split your book and click on the Split at Cursor button:
|Split at Cursor button|
Look what happens:
|From one file to many|
Don’t worry, your split parts haven’t disappeared—each chapter has become a new file. Note the highlighted parts in the screen capture above. To access your “chapters” at any time, double click on the .xhtml the files in left menu bar, or on the tabs at the top of the middle window.
This sets your paragraphs to “normal style” in the same way that you would set your paragraphs to Normal using the Word Styles menu in Word 2010 (if you don’t use Word Styles, it’s a great habit to get into for the purposes of ebook building). Again, if you already styled your paragraphs to Normal in Word, you can skip this step.
|Use the Paragraph button to style paragraphs|
This will ensure that your lists are lined up neatly on the left. If you’ve styled your lists in your original Word file, using the Bullets and Numbering buttons on Word’s ribbon, check to see whether that transferred to Sigil.
If your ebook contained hyperlinks in Word, they may have transferred intact to Sigil. If they haven’t, select the URL and insert a hyperlink using the Insert Link button on Sigil’s tool bar.
|Insert link button|
Inserting images—and deciding on format, size, and resolution—is a separate set of considerations and deserves a post of its own. For now, consult your distributor’s formatting manual for image guidelines.
Open up the TOC pane by going to View>Table of Contents, if you don’t have this pane open already. Click on the Generate Table of Contents button:
|All headings are selected by default|
|Sigil’s TOC pane with your new TOC|