Designing ebooks with free software

Custom Conversion

© Lead Image © Renee Jansoa,

© Lead Image © Renee Jansoa,

Article from Issue 236/2020

With LibreOffice Writer and Calibre, you can publish your own ebooks with better results than most online conversion tools.

If you are publishing an ebook, you can find numerous conversion tools online. The trouble is, most of these tools give you minimal control over the results. Too often, the results are poorly formatted, partly because Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the language used to format ebooks, is limited, but mainly because automatic formatting is often too inflexible. You have far more control if you do the conversion yourself. Without being an expert, you can produce better ebooks with just two open source tools: LibreOffice Writer and Calibre. However, expect some trial and error before you get the results you want.

Creating an ebook involves these steps:

  1. Create the raw file in LibreOffice Writer.
  2. Convert to EPUB format.
  3. Edit glitches in Calibre.
  4. Edit CSS directly, if necessary.
  5. Add finishing touches in Calibre.


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