4 Getting Content into Pressbooks

Pieter van der Veen

Write Directly in Pressbooks

Writing your content directly into Pressbooks is the easiest and most infallible way to bring in content. If a user has experience with WordPress, the Pressbooks interface will be very familiar.

  • Write your chapter directly in the text box.
  • Beneath the main text box, decide whether to allow comments on that chapter or not (NOTE: comments must be enabled globally).
  • When ready, either publish your chapter, schedule it to go live at a later time or make it a private draft by using the options under the Publish tab at the right.
  • Be sure to click Update to save.
  • If necessary, under Publish, you can browse through past versions of your chapter and revert to them.
  • Once your chapter is published, see what it will look like to a reader on the Web by clicking on the View Chapter.

Use the Import Tool to import chapters from existing books, checkout the  Pressbooks directory

  • Go to Tools > Import
  • Select the type of file you’re importing
  • Choose whether to upload a file or import from a link
  • Upload the file or input your link (from the addressbar in your browser)
  • Click Begin Import
  • From the imported list you can  select one or more chapters to be included in the book instead of importing everything.
  • You can upload the following types of files:
  • EPUB (.epub)
  • Microsoft Word (.docx)
  • ODT (.odt)
  • XML (.wxr or .xml
  • Web page or pressbooks webbook via HTML or URL

Strange behavior

Content imported into Pressbooks from external sources (like Microsoft Word) often includes extra markup or inline styles that might have been useful in the original context but which will produces unwanted styling in Pressbooks; for instance, changing the size or even color of certain text.Often this bad markup comes in the form of <span> tags.
If you see strange behavior in your webbook or export files, we recommend reviewing the underlying HTML with the text editor to find and remove examples that look like this:
<span style=”font-size: something; color: something else”>
Any unwanted span tags and inline style declarations should be deleted (along with the closing </span> tag) unless you are sure you know what it is for and want it to be displayed in your book.
Copy and paste from Word

If you are pasting from Word or another non-text editor using Paste from Text button(in the visual editor) will clean up and remove any underlying problematic formatting such as span tags that may interfere with a clean output. This is not always recommended, if you have a good formatted Word document copy and pasting should work fine.

Avoid complexe styling in Word: use headings and subheading : 1,2,3 (styled) Tables, Image alignment, Fonts, Underlines, Colors, Strikethroughs , Custom line spacing, figure caption en Footnotes might import in pressbooks, but can have errors underneath and have to be adjusted.

Note that the importer will import only BASIC styling. It should not import font choices, colors, etc. The cleaner your Word file is to begin with, the less cleanup you’ll need to do to your book in Pressbooks.

Prepare your docx file: First, using the Styles menu (not the formatting menu) in Word, make sure you apply NORMAL styling to the entire document; and apply Heading1 style to your chapter headings.

Here is a quick list of common problems, and how to fix them:

  • Styling headings with Bold instead of Heading tags
  • Not using blockquotes for letters, quotes etc.
  • Forcing certain kinds of paragraphs not to indent
  • Not using correct list formatting (for bullets & numbers)
  • The dreaded MS Word <span> tag
  • Paragraphs not being separated properly
  • Make sure lists are proper lists,
    <li>item 1</li>
    <li>item 2</li>

Footnotes are being imported but have to be marked in pressbooks.

Cloning a book

PressbooksEDU networks have a cloning feature that allows you to instantly copy an existing open textbook to revise, remix, and adapt it. If your network has the cloning feature
enabled, you can clone any Pressbooks book that is made in Pressbooks and public on the web.

Licensed with a Creative Commons license that allows derivatives (NOTE: Only works licensed as “All rights reserved” or “NoDerivatives (ND)” cannot be cloned)

If you try to clone a book that doesn’t meet these criteria, you will receive an error. If the book you want to clone does meet the above criteria, you can follow these steps to create your copy:

  1. On your Pressbooks dashboard, hover over My Catalog and click on Clone a Book
  2. Copy/paste the Source Book URL into the provided field – this is the URL of the book you would like to clone
  3. Enter the Target Book URL – this is the URL for your new version of the book. You will be able to edit and export the book from this URL on your network. Note that it cannot be changed later. We recommend using the new book’s title
  4. Click on Clone It!

Once this is complete, you can click on the new book’s title to be redirected to the dashboard, or enter the new URL to navigate to the book homepage. Note: The cloning routine is designed to copy metadata, media attachments as well as any H5P activities created and used within that book.

Visual Editor and the Text Editor

The Visual editor

  • The visual editor is the default editor. It is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface that allows you to see styling and formatting as they are applied.
  • This interface also includes a toolbar that the top of the editor. While most options are straightforward, there are a range of buttons whose functions might not be obvious at first.

Toolbar options:

  1. Paragraph styles dropdown menu: choose from normal paragraph style, six different heading styles, or preformatted text
  2. Bold
  3. Italics
  4. Bulleted list
  5. Numbered list
  6. Blockquote
  7. Left-align
  8. Center-align
  9. Right-align
  10. Link
  11. Read more
  12. Toolbar toggle
  13. Formats dropdown menu: choose from several text indent and tracking options, as well as pullquote options
  14. Textboxes dropdown menu: choose from a variety of plain textboxes or predesign educational textboxes
  15. Underline
  16. Strikethrough
  17. Horizontal line
  18. Justify
  19. Text color
  20. Text background color
  21. Paste as text
  22. Clear formatting
  23. Special character
  24. Decrease indent
  25. Increase indent
  26. Undo and Redo
  27. Keyboard shortcuts guide
  28. Tables
  29. Apply Class
  30. Anchor
  31. Superscript
  32. Subscript
  33. Code
  34. Footnote[1]
  35. Convert MS footnotes
  36. Glossary

Text Editor

As an alternative to the visual editor, you can also work in a text editor, or switch to it as necessary for specific needs. Here, you can view and edit the HTML version of any text written and formatted in the visual editor, and you can also write directly in HTML, using the toolbar as necessary.

The text editor toolbar offers fewer options, tailored to working in HTML. They are detailed below.

  1. Open and close <strong> tags to make text bold (click once to open, and again to close the tag)
  2. Open and close <em> tags to make text italics
  3. Link text (a pop up will appear)
  4. Insert the blockquote tags
  5. Strikethrough text (also adds a date and time marker)
  6. Insert a date/time tag
  7. Insert an image (from URL)
  8. Insert a bulleted list
  9. Insert a numbered list
  10. Add list item
  11. Open and close <code> tags, to style text as code
  12. Insert a ‘Read More’ tag (beta)
  13. Close tags (automatically closes any open tags)
  14. Open and close footnote shortcode







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Getting Content into Pressbooks Copyright © by Pieter van der Veen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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