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Creating eBooks with

· Posted by Mike in Company and tagged · 18 Comments
UPDATE: This article was written in 2011, with tools that were available to us then. We'd suggest searching for more modern tools for creating eBooks now.

iBooks on left and Kindle on right.

We sometimes get asked for downloadable versions of our Mockups documentation to go along with the online version we publish on our support site. We now publish the Mockups Docs in PDF, and additionally in the ebook reader formats EPUB (for iBooks) and MOBI (for Kindle). It's nothing fancy, just a version of our Documentation that was prepared in Apple iWork's, and exported in all of these formats.

Since we took the time to figure out how to do this, we thought other small companies who may want to do the same may save some time by seeing the notes we took when we set up our templates and migrated our content. These steps are only useful if you're using a Mac, obviously.

Download our eBook

If you want to get an idea of what we've published, you can download the eBook for the Mockups for Desktop Documentation in the following formats.

For viewing in Acrobat reader.

For iBooks app for iPad, and other ebook readers that support the EPUB format.

For Amazon Kindle and other eBook readers that support the MOBI format.

Notes about downloading
Instructions for installing the EPUB and MOBI files vary depending on your device.

  • iPad: On iOS 5+ iPads, press the links to open, and you'll be prompted to Open in... the appropriate app (EPUB for iBooks and MOBI for Kindle).
  • Kindle: On Kindle devices, download the MOBI file and sync with your USB cable.

Download the Template

We learned how to publish to EPUB using the Apple article, “Creating ePub files with Pages”. We used a sample template they provided and modified it to suit our needs. Then we used a tool called Calibre to convert our exported EPUB file to MOBI, to make it available to Kindle users as well.

First start by saving our template file: eBook.template

You can simply open the file and select the menu File > Save as template... to save it on your Mac to ~/Application Support/iWork/Pages/Templates/My Templates/.

Writing and Editing

Set up your workspace:
  • Styles Drawer should be visible. If it is not, select View > Show Styles Drawer.
  • Inspector Should be visible. If it is not, select View > Show Inspector.
  • Use Layout mode. View > Show Layout.
Start your file
  • Start by opening a new blank document by select File > New from Template Chooser...
  • If you added the eBook.template file above, you will see it under My Templates. Select it and click "Choose."
Set up title page
  • With the first page selected, check the Layout Inspector > Section tab. "First Page is different" should be checked.
  • Change the title and subtitle.
  • To add a new image select the image box. Select the menu Insert Choose... (or use CMD+SHIFT+V) to place a new image.
  • Change the author and edition text if necessary.
Table of contents
  • Leave it alone, it gets generated automatically.
  • If for some reason you have to force it to update, right-click the TOC and select Update Table of Contents from the context menu.
Adding Content
  • Chapter title
    • Insert the cursor at the start of a new chapter and select the Chapter Name style from the styles drawer. Enter your chapter name or paste it via Right-click > Paste and match style.
  • Headings
    • Use the Heading style for headings, Subheading style for subheadings.
  • Body
    • Select the Body style. Start entering your content.
    • If you've worked on the content outside of pages, select the content you want to paste, right-click at the insertion point and select Paste and match style.
  • Images
    • Use Insert > Choose (CMD+SHIFT+V) to insert images at the insertion point.
    • Images must be inline to work properly in EPUB an MOBI format, so be sure to check the Wrap Inspector. Make sure you have the "Inline" radio selected images they flow with the text. Check "Object causes wrap."
    • Use a hard return after images.
    • Use the Caption style if you want to place a centered caption below an image.
  • Lists
    • Put each list item on a new line, select the entire series and select the list style (bullets, numbered).
    • Use CMD+\] to indent.
  • Code
    • Code Blocks: Use this style for blocks of code. They'll be shown in a block with a fixed-width font and yellow background.
    • Inline Code: Use this style for code that's shown inline in a paragraph. They selected code will be shown in a fixed-width font and yellow background.
  • Chapter Breaks
    • After the last line of the chapter select the menu Insert > Section Break. This will start the next chapter on a new page.
  • We use the header and footer for the PDF version only, since EPUB and MOBI will strip these out, and use the document properties instead to get this information.
  • The header shows the Document Title on every page except for the title page. On the Table of Contents page, double-click in the header to replace it with your document title.
  • The footer shows the page number. You can leave this alone.

Exporting and Testing

First, save your Pages document, obviously. For PDF, simply select File > Export PDF. Follow the instructions below for exporting EPUB and MOBI formats.

Exporting to EPUB using Pages

  • Select File > Export.
  • Select the EPUB tab, and enter title and author information.
  • Check the "Use first page as cover image" checkbox, and click Next.
  • Ignore the warning about floating images, because you set the image wrapping properties if you followed the instructions above.
  • Save.
  • You have a few options to test in iPad: 1) Email the file to self as attachment and open to iBook, and 2) Open iTunes, drag to Books on left side of iTunes window under Library and Sync.

Exporting to MOBI using Calibre
UPDATE: We used Calibre in 2011, but there many converters available now. We'd suggest searching for a more modern tool.

  • We used the Calibre app to convert EPUB to MOBI.
  • Add your EPUB file to Calibre.
  • Click Convert.
  • I make sure that Output format is set to MOBI, and I add our company name to the Publisher field. I leave all other settings at defaults and click OK.
  • After the file is converted, you can right-click the eBook in the app and choose Open Containing Folder to browser to the file on your file system. It's saved to the ~/Calibre Library/ folder.
  • If you attach a Kindle you can copy the MOBI file to the Kindle.

That's all there is to it. Hope this helps.

Mike for the Balsamiq Team

Leave a Comment

Comments (18)

  1. 1. Use the Calibre app to convert EPUB to MOBI
    2. The process is pretty simple. Add your EPUB file to Calibre.
    3. rejoice, you now have an epub that is crap, all design is destroyed.

    • Hi there,

      We’re sorry you didn’t get the results you expected. It’s been so long since we wrote this post, we’re sure we would do it differently now with all the new tools available.

      Thanks for your comment. We’re going to update the information in the post.


  2. Hello, another useful tool for converting pdf files to epub or mobi formats that you can try is which provides fast results. Try uploading files and see how it works. Thanks!

  3. Hey Mike
    All good.
    Here’s a workflow that absolutely works. I write everything in a master file. When I want to export to PDF, I do so. For epub, I do something slightly different.

    1. Use your or Apple’s template.
    2. I used Header/Sub header for headings. You can use the chapter name too. Remove the TOC (seriously).
    3. Export to epub.
    4. Open in Sigil, make sure you turn OFF Clean and Format Type.
    5. Open epub, insert a HTML TOC.
    6. At this stage you can change headings to H1, H2 etc which Sigil probably remaps to H3, H6 (this actually doesn’t matter on the Kindle, as long as hierarchy is there).
    7. Wrap the Table of Contents Header in an a name and id tag of TOC.
    8. Wrap the front page with a “Start” ID and class (doesn’t matter what the anchor is). If you do this in Pages, it doesn’t seem to map across nicely. This makes sure.
    9. I also wrapped Pinterest, FB, etc images I included on the last page “share with your friends” with pre-filled share URLs with links.
    10. You can also import a new front cover if you want.
    Save as filename-sigil or whatever.

    Test in Kindle previewer.
    Upload to KDP, test.

    Might have to write a post about it.

    This works just great for me!

  4. Tim, Not sure I recall why I used heading/subhead. Thanks for the other steps. It’s been so long since we did this, and I’m sure now that we’d do it differently with iBooks.

  5. The TOC doesn’t work in Kindle. I converted to epub, checked in Sigil (TOC all picked up fine) but in Kindle, there’s no Go-to for TOC. But the TOC tab works.

    Any ideas?

  6. You might want to add a step in. Edit in Sigil. Then convert that to MOBI, or upload epub to Amazon.

    Actually I am checking in Sigil and the TOC seems to be wrapped in p tags and all the hierarchy goes wacky. Haven’t tested to Amazon yet.

    What about tables? Apples Pages tables seem to work well.

  7. This is unreal. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Curious to know, why’d you use heading/subheading instead of Heading 1, 2 etc

  8. Thank-you for responding. I only have 4 options to export to, and epub is not one of them. I have Pages ’09. Is that the problem?

  9. Rehan, in Pages, select File > Export > EPUB

  10. Hello, and thanks for the article. I was giving your ideas a try but can’t find the “EPUB” tab on the File menu you mentioned. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?


  11. N worries, George.

  12. I decided to try it again. AND IT WORKED! Thanks. I missed a step in there, and didn’t really get the table of contents quite right, but it worked, of course, as soon as I reread the instructions. Sorry to be an idiot. Best, GP

    George Popham
  13. Tried copying the text of an out of print book from the web. After going through the laborious process of converting to EPUB using pages, I think. I tried to convert to MOBI so I can read it on kindle. Pretty disastrous waste of two hours. The file that was to be converted to epub continues to be saved as a pages file, and was rejected by calibre. I changed the file to an .epub, which was a desperation move, it didn’t work. I’m not really sure I have an epub file to begin with. This is clearly not a process for amateurs, there is a lot of terminology I don’t recognize. If you have any suggestions I’d be appreciative, but I think I must need some specialized knowledge. The pages app was very excited to tell me how simple and easy this would all be, I wish it had been more clear that this was going to be such a labyrinthine and technical process.

    George Popham
  14. Thanks, Jim. We’ll take a look.

  15. Hi Mike,

    I’ve been pretty impressed with your documentation. I’ve suggested to Peldi that you might want to take a look at the ScreenSteps/ScreenSteps Live tool suite. It might not be quite as flexible as you require, but it’s a fantastic way to quickly document and publish help (and it has great tools to keep the content up-to-date).

    They also have many integrations with software packages (blog stuff, Salesforce) as well as helpdesk integrations with Zendesk and Assistly.


    Jim Kofron
  16. Hi, Tobias. Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t know about Scroll Wiki.

    Our documentation is publicly hosted on Assistly, not Confluence, and as a Pages user, this was a quick way to output PDF, EPUB, MOBI for this publication, but also to create a process I and a few others want to use for other ebooks besides documentation. This was quickest for me and took very little learning to get to done.

    If others are interested, the plugin Tobias mentions is here:

  17. Hi Mike,

    I am using Mockups for Confluence and love it !! I was just wondering why you as a Confluence plugin provider haven’t considered using Confluence for writing and Scroll Wiki EPUB Exporter or any other Scroll exporter to publish to the required format (as well as in your layout).

    – Tobias