Creating ePubs with Sigil

Recently I had the task of creating some ePub ebooks. I did some research to find the best program to use for this, and the best I found was Sigil. This is a free program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is very easy to use. It’s simple and works well. It even beats out paid programs like Adobe InDesign because that program requires a lot of levels of unnecessary complication.

Here are some basic steps to take:

1. Download the version of Sigil that you need for your computer.

2. Install.

3. Get the text of the publication that you will be working with (more on this below). Sigil can import TXT, HTML, and other EPUB files.

4. Read the Basic Tutorial. This is an excellent tutorial that shows you everything you need to know to get started. I recommend just following along with it and doing each step. After that you”ll be really familiar with the process and you can do more involved work with your ePub creations.

My Tips

Here are some things I think are important that aren’t covered in the basic tutorial in detail.

Margins: One thing that Sigil lacks is a built-in method for setting the margins of pages. There is a really easy solution, though. You can just add a line to the CSS in the code view. I’ve found that this works well:

body {padding: 3%;}

You can change the percentage to anything you like. Putting some padding around the edges really makes the book look more professional and easy to read.

ePub Viewers: The ePub files that I’ve created look really good in Adobe Digital Editions, which is Adobe’s ebook viewer. They also look good on my BeBook Neo, so I assume they will look fine on other similar e-readers. I put my ePubs on my iPhone and opened them with Bluefire Reader and they look good there as well. I tested my ePubls in Stanza’s desktop reader, and it is not smart enough to recognize Sigil’s page breaks and some of its formatting, so I don’t recommend using that program or other less-developed ePub viewers.

Page Breaks: This is covered in the tutorial but I just want to reiterate it. Sigil has an excellent little tool for creating page breaks. This can be used, for example, at the start of each Chapter. You just put your cursor above the Chapter title, and then click the button that looks like a curly “Ch”. Where you’ve created these breaks, the reader will see nicely formatted chapter beginnings that are separated from the end of the previous chapter.

What’s not mentioned in the tutorial is this: You can make global adjustments to your text before you split the pages, and then those adjustments will be included on every page without you having to edit every single page. For example: if you implement the margin CSS code that I mentioned above, you should do this before you start splitting up the page. Each new page you make via the Chapter break will inherit that CSS line that you added to the first one.

Text Prep: I recommend doing a lot of work on your text before you import it into Sigil. For example, if your source file is HTML, you can set Headings on each Chapter title (or section title or whathaveyou) in the HTML. You can prepare any other special formatting like italics, line breaks, indents, etc. That way if you lose your work in Sigil, or if you need to start over, you’ll have it all saved in your source file.

For everything else, you can just play around and see what you can learn. If you have any questions about using this program, feel free to leave a comment. I might know the answer (and might not!).


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About The eBook Reader

I love reading and I love technology. eBooks are an interesting combination of the two.

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