Pressbooks is a book creation tool built on WordPress. Whether or not you are familiar with the WordPress interface, Pressbooks should be relatively quick to figure out. Below you’ll find a guided tour of the menus and parts of the system that you might want to visit as you get acquainted. This guide contains much more detail, but here is the quick overview.
This is the homepage of your book and lists the content in full. Clicking on any of your chapters on this page will take you to the editing screen.
The Dashboard is also where you can check how much storage your book is using. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see both your book storage limit (depending on your upgrade level), and how much you are currently using. (NOTE: there is no storage limit for books created on a private Pressbooks network, and you will not see this feature).
The Upgrade page is where you can purchase your PDF + Ebook Pro or Ebook Pro Plan upgrades to access watermark- and ad-free exports files.
From the Organize, you have access to all of your parts and chapters. You can also set your global privacy at the top of the page, select which chapters to show in your web output, and select which chapters to show in your exports.
This section is where you set the details of your book, including title, author and language and other metadata. See more here.
Here, you can select your book theme from over 20 options, all of which display a sample of how they look when applied in the PDF format (there can be minor differences in ebook and web).
To apply a theme, simply hover your mouse over it and click on “Activate”.
This section allows you to customize your theme options. Global options apply to your book in all outputs. These include:
- Enable or disable chapter numbers
- Enable chapter taxonomy (advanced option)
- Enable a two-level table of contents (displays headings styled with heading 1 applied in TOC)
- Display copyright license (see our chapter on copyright for more)
- Global typography support (see our chapter on languages for more)
PDF options allow you to control your PDF output. Options include:
- Page size
- Paragraph separation
- Remove blank pages
- Display footnotes or chapter endnotes
- Widow and orphan settings (what are those?)
- And more…
And finally, the web options allow you to add social media links to your chapters, and the ebook options tab let’s you choose your paragraph separation and compress images for export.
You can customize the design of your book’s theme by editing the CSS for your book in Custom Styles. Changes can be made to Your Styles, while the original CSS remains above so that changes are trackable and can be revised at any time.
Go to this section to export your book. You can select from a range of formats, including the standard PDF, EPUB, plus a few more exciting options:
- Epub3 (beta)
- XHTML (good for troubleshooting PDF issues)
- OpenDocument (beta)
- Pressbooks XML (very useful for copying books)
- WordPress XML
Once you’ve selected your format(s), hit “Export Your Book”, and click on the file icon that appears to download. Pressbooks saves your last 5 batches of downloads, and you can delete files individually, or en masse by hitting “Delete All Exports”.
NOTE: When you export your files, you might get an error message like this: Warning: The export has validation errors. See logs for more details. To have the error log sent to you, go to “Settings” –> “Export” and select ‘Yes. Send the logs.’ These will then be sent to the email address associated with your account.
Add information about where your books will be sold (which will appear on the web version of your book if you use that for promotional purposes).
This is your media library, where you can upload images as a batch, and manage your images. You can also upload images directly when you are editing your chapters.
Here, you can view and edit who has access to your book, and what permissions they have. For more on this, see our Users and Collaborators chapter.
The most important tool here is “Import”. You can use this to import your content from a variety of file formats. First, choose your format from the following:
- WXR (WordPress eXtended RSS) – use this for Pressbooks XML files
- ODT (OpenDocument) – this is a beta option
- DOCX (Microsoft Word Document)
- HTML – this is also a beta option that we will be improving soon to be able to import an entire (public) Pressbooks book from URL
Once you’ve selected your format, choose our file and hit “Upload File”. This will take you to a second screen where you can select which sections/chapters/parts to import, and whether to import them as front/back matter, chapters or parts. With a Pressbooks XML file, you may also choose to import the existing “Book Info” metadata.
Search & Replace
This function can be very useful, but must be handled with care! It is more of a blunt object than a fine instrument, in that it will change every instance of a search term, rather than letting you pick which, and it is not reversible without going chapter-by-chapter. If you’re careful, though, it can be extremely handy.
Enter a search term and what you would like to replace it with, and hit “Preview Replacements”. This will give you a list of the located search term, and what the new version will look like. Once you’re sure it’s not breaking anything important, click on “Replace & Save” to execute. To be sure every instance has been caught, you may want to run a search for your original term again, to double check.
Things to note:
- The search is case sensitive. This means that in order to ensure that you find every instance of a word, you may need to run a search and replace several times (once all lower case, once with the first letter capitalized and once in all caps).
- Every instance of your search term will be found, even if it is part of another word. For example, searching for “he said” will also highlight part of “she said“, or searching for “book” would also highlight part of “Pressbooks” and change it just the same.
- If you’re searching for something that appears very frequently in your book, it can easily overwhelm the system and not return any results. There’s no easy solution for this except to copy your book into a text editor such as Word or Notepad++, run the search and replace, and import or copy it all back in.
Here you can control a few more settings that apply to you book.
- Privacy – set your book to ‘Private’ or ‘Public’ globally, and choose who can see chapters set to ‘Private’
- Export – choose to have your export error logs sent to you or not
- Google Analytics – add a Google Analytics ID to connect it to your Pressbooks books
- PB LaTeX – check the LaTeX plugin is working properly, and set a couple of display options
- Disable Comments – choose which parts of your book will have comments available (default is all comments are disabled)