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1. Overview | 2. Importing Your Content | 3. Formatting Your Content | 4. Walkthrough
How to use Sigil to make ePub books. We're going to cover the following topics:
First, you can download Sigil from here: http://code.google.com/p/sigil/
It's available for OS X (Mac), Windows, and Linux.
Once you get it installed, the main screen will look like this:
The top part is the menu and toolbars, much like every other application out there.
The pane on the left shows the contents of the ePub Container (This should look familiar if you've read my manual ePub tutorial.)
The middle pane shows the contents of whatever file you've opened from the left pane. Sigil can edit any part of the ePub file, including XHTML files (your book), CSS files, the ePub structure files, and you can add images to the ePub file right from Sigil too!
The right pane is the TOC, or Table of Contents, viewer. This is the stuff that shows if you press the Table of Contents button in your e-Reader.
Sigil can edit XHMTL files in either WYSIWYG, or code view, or a combination of both. (CSS files and the ePub structure files can only be edited in code view.)
Let's look at what the toolbar buttons do.
New (Creates a new book) - Clicking this button will make a new, empty ePub book with nothing in it.
Open (Open a book from disc) - This will open a dialog box that will let you pick an existing ePub book on your hard drive, and open it for editing. Note: Don't do this unless you really want to edit a book. Sigil might change some of the book's structure to make it easier to work on the book in Sigil, which might or might not mess up how the book looks right now.
Save (Save the current book) - If you've not saved your book before, this will open a dialog box asking you to enter a filename for your book, and where to save it on your hard drive. If you have saved before, or if you're saving changes to an ePub book that you've opened, it will just save without showing anything... you know, like every other program does.
Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, and Paste - These also work just like they do in every other program. (An advanced clipboard feature is coming at some point, look for me to update this when it arrives.)
Find and Replace - Click this opens another pane that lets you.... find and replace text. This comes in very handy if your source is say, from a scanner, and lots of "fun" OCR errors.
WYSIWYG Viewing mode - This is the default view, and lets you edit your book almost exactly like you would in a word processor.
Mixed Viewing mode - This spits the content pane into a top pane that shows WYSIWYG content, and a bottom pane that shows the underlying code.
Code View - This shows the XHTML code that makes up your books content. Or, in other words, it shows what your content files would look like had you unzipped the ePub file and opened your content in a text editor. This should look familiar if you've read my manual tutorial.
Split at Cursor - This button splits the file into separate chapters. If book is imported as one big file, place the cursor where the chapter break should be, and click this button. Bam! New Chapter. If you're writing along, and need to start a new chapter, click this button, and it will make a new chapter file for you. More on this button later in the tutorial...
Insert Image - This adds an image to the current file that you're working in. Note that in Sigil 0.5.3, it does NOT add an image to the ePub container, and to add an image to your book, you have to add the image to the container first, or you will get an error when you click this button (Or the image won't be in the list of images...) To add an image to the container, you need to click File>>New>>Add an Existing file. Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds, we'll go over this later.
Donate - Sadly, this doesn't mean to donate to me... It does, however, bring you to a page on the Internet where you can donate to Sigil's development. You won't ever use this button when making a book, but hopefully you'll click it at some point.. hey, Sigil is free, and our donations are all measly thanks the developers get for making this great program. (No, I'm not a Sigil developer, and am not affiliated with them in any way. I just use the program.)
Paragraph Style - This drop-down menu lets you set the paragraph style. Highlight a word, sentence, or paragraph, then select the style you want, and Sigil will automatically place the appropriate HTML elements into the code. (It will put <h1> and </h1> tags, for example, around what you've highlighted, making it a heading, for example). More on this later.
Bold, Italic, Underline, Align Right, Align Center, Align Left, Bullet list, Number List, Indent Left, Indent Right - Yeah, these all work the same as they do in a word processor too.
Validate ePub - This button.... validates your ePub file. It's really hard to make a bad enough mistake with Sigil that an ePub file won't open, but some reading software is more finicky than others, and this button looks for any and all errors. If it finds any, you get a box with the error code, and a not very helpful description of where the error is.
So, that's the main user interface of Sigil. The program can do a lot more than what these buttons do (For example, editing the meta information for your book (such as the author, genre, etc)), but they're the ones you'll be using the most often. We'll get into the other features ... that's right, later in the tutorial.
You can also follow my blog for updates on books I write, and also some ePub content: http://aarondemott.blogspot.com
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Download this guide as an ePub file
If you have any comments, notice any bugs, or have any questions on any of the steps here, please e-mail me at: yoda47 (at) jedisaber (dot) com