Converting your file to an ePub
Creating a great-looking epub doesn’t have to be rocket science (unless that’s your subject matter). If you have a well-formatted .docx, you can follow these steps to create a masterpiece of an epub file. We’ll be using Calibre, an incredibly powerful ebook manager and editor. It’s completely free and open-source, all thanks to its creator Kovid Goyal.
Step 1: Prep your .doc file
If you have a .docx file, open it in Calibre. If your document’s file type is just .doc (no “x”), you’ll need to convert it since Calibre doesn’t play nicely with that format. You can simply open a .doc file in Microsoft Word and save it as a .docx file. If you don’t have Microsoft Word available, we suggest uploading your .doc file to Google Drive. You can open it in Google Drive and then download it as a .docx file.
Step 2: Metadata
Let’s first edit some metadata so that your name and your book’s name show up when reading this on an e-reader, computer, or everything else us humans read ebooks on. Click on your book in the main Calibre screen and then click the “Convert Books” button at the top of the app.
After pressing the button, the first screen you’ll see is the Metadata section. On the right side, edit any applicable information. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave the publisher, tags, or series forms blank if you have nothing to put there. You absolutely want to fill out the title and author(s) forms, though. Add a book cover here, too: Your readers will love you even more!
*When adding a book cover, click the little file icon (to the right of the box; see below) and select your book cover image file from your computer. Don’t select the “use cover from source file” option. We’ll override that later.
Step 3: Look & Feel
Once you’ve finished adding metadata and a book cover, click on the Look & Feel section on the left side of Calibre.
There’s a lot of information spread out over a bunch of tabs in this section, although we recommend only using a couple of these options:
- Check the "Embed all fonts in this document" box
- This places the font file directly in the epub, so that if a reader doesn’t have Helvetica (or whatever font you use) on their computer or reader, the font will still be displayed.
- Check the "Smarten punctuation" box
- This replaces the straighter quotes (that look like double apostrophes) with fancier curly quotes. This means the document is typographically correct.
Step 4: Page Setup
Click on the Page Setup section on the left. The only option you need to change here is the “Output profile” setting.
Scroll down and find “Tablet” and then click on it. This simply makes sure that your images are not resized on different devices. If you upload a high-quality cover that looks incredible, it won’t be downsized to a lower quality.
Step 5: Structure Detection
Great news: You only need to change one option here! Just check the “Remove first image" option and leave the other defaults.
Step 6: Convert and inspect
Click the “OK” button at the bottom-right of the Calibre app to start converting your .docx file to an epub. Once Calibre finishes converting, you’ll see a link that says “Path: Click to open.” It can be found under the book cover image. Click it, and the folder where your new ebook was created should appear.
You can always view the ebook in Calibre, but I prefer to view it in either iBooks on a Mac, or Icecream on a Windows PC.
If you’re happy with the results, then start building an empire on Instafreebie! If you’d like to go the extra mile and add a fancy table of contents, though, then read on.
Step 7: Adding a table of contents
In the main Calibre window, right click your book and select “Edit book.”
Welcome to the “Edit Book” portion of Calibre! If you look on the left side, you’ll see Calibre’s file browser. This shows all the files that make up an epub. If you take a closer look, every chapter is just an HTML file. Epubs are really zip files that house HTM L and CSS files. You can think of an epub ebook as a mini webpage.
At the very top of your screen, look for the Tools menu and highlight Table of Contents, and then click on Edit Table of Contents.
You’ll see a new screen that asks how you’d like to form your table of contents. Click on the button labeled Generate ToC from files.
Once you click that option, you’ll see that Calibre wants to add every single file to the table of contents. We don’t need anything before Chapter One, so click on each file (Start, Cover, etc.) before Chapter 1 and then click the “Remove this entry” button on the right.
Click “OK” when you’re finished.
Now that the table of contents is populated, we need to actually add it to the book. Go back to the “Tools” menu at the top of the screen and highlight “Table of Contents” again, but this time click “Insert inline Table of Contents.”
Now that the table of contents is actually added to your book, we need to place it in the right spot. That file browser (lower right side) that you see on the “Edit Book” screen? It shows you where the files are positioned in your book. And position matters. By default, Calibre places the table of contents at the beginning. Before your cover. That’s weird.
You can simply click and drag your table of contents (“toc.xhtml” in the file browser) to the proper location. A table of contents should be placed after your copyright and dedication pages, but before your acknowledgments page.
When you double-click a file in the Calibre file browser, you’ll see the HTML used, as well as a preview of what it looks like when viewing it in an e-reader. If you have the previously listed pages and need to find out which files they are in, just double-click the first few files to see their contents in the preview panel.
Since we don’t have any of those files in our ebook, we’ll place our table of contents after the book’s title page.
We’re almost done! We just need to save our changes. Click the “File” menu at the top of the screen and then select Save.
You can now close the “Edit Book” window and navigate to your epub (which is always found by clicking the “Click to open” link when your ebook is selected in Calibre’s main window).
Final Step: Inspect your new epub file in your reading app of choice, make sure it looks good, and make sure the links in the table of contents actually work!