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Old 01-02-2014, 03:59 AM   #1
Sablerose
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HTML and CSS for Dummies

Now don't get the title wrong, I'm no dummy.

But I have ~almost~ no knowledge of CSS and HTML, and I'm trying to convert doc files to epubs, neatly.

At the moment, I'm using the Calibre editor, and the Web when I get stuck.

Can anyone recommend a beginner book? I'm only looking for clues to questions.

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Old 01-02-2014, 09:40 AM   #2
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If you want to do it easily and the ebooks are not overly formatted with tables, etc, then consider Atlantis Word Processor. If you look around for a coupon, you can get it for as low as $10. It publishes epubs which are clean and functional. AND it takes Word documents as input.

It will not let you edit epubs, but you can keep editing the source until you get it right.

Also Toxaris has a Word add in that many have admired that produces epubs. A link is in his signature line on mobileread.

The new edit function of calibre works well, but it is limited right now because it is so new.

You can look at w3schools.com which has info on HTML and CSS, but there are few online sources that simply describe the tags of HTML that differ in action or don't work at all in epubs.

One way of learning a little and also giving you a boost is to go to the mobileread library and download a book there.. Three Men in a Boat is heavily formatted, among many. When you see one which has formatting you admire, open it up in the calibre editor and click in the preview pane where you admire the formatting. Then look at the code editor and see the corresponding code. Adapt it to your book as needed.

There is no need to expand your mind to the cracking point by trying to learn everything at once. Study and adapt a bit at a time, and it will go much more easily, especially if you have modest ambitions.

Last edited by mrmikel; 01-02-2014 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:11 AM   #3
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And there is also the introduction guide to HTML/CSS from Pablo here. He is working on getting it ready for the Wiki.
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:29 PM   #4
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Sablerose,

You can also have a look here: http://en.flossmanuals.net/e-book-enlightenment/

This manual tries to cover the whole process involved by the creation of an eBook.

If you can read French, the manual "Créer un Epub" (http://fr.flossmanuals.net/creer-un-epub/) is really interresting and different to the other one.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:03 PM   #5
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@mrmikel The books are all fiction, so tables, etc. are in short supply. Mostly just straight paragraphs, not even much italics/bold. I've tried Atlantis, but find it rather difficult to adjust to after using Word almost forever. I've been using Calibre to convert to epub and edit, but haven't managed to convert, edit and upload anything to Marvin on my iPod yet so far. I'll keep trying.

I've been using w3schools.com as I needed to answer questions, and I've been reading several newbie books. I'm about 2/3 of the way through "Head First with HTML and CSS" so far.

I think I will do some downloading from the MR library, and see what others have done successfully. I would have done already, but I'm usually not at my keyboard, but on my iPod. What is the most frustrating to me is that the books I'm trying to convert are mostly novels, Twilight for example. So not all that much formatting, mostly straightforward paragraphs. /shrug

@Toxaris I attempted to install your Word epub add-in, but didn't get it working. I'll try again, since Word is my preference for making up my files before loading them into Calibre for conversion and editing.

I already read through Pablo's intro guide, very informative. Just not enough for me to get a successful upload yet, so I'm still looking for more resources.

@arios Thanks, but I couldn't make much sense of the flossmanuals, and can't speak French.

Thanks for the hints and encouragement, all. I'm off to the MR library to see what I can find. I'll send you a private message re: the Word add-in, if I still can't get it working, Toxaris.
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Old 01-02-2014, 08:39 PM   #6
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AWP does have a learning curve. There is a forum so you can ask questions and they are pretty responsive.

If you are just doing novels, then there doesn't need to be much formatting at all. Things work better if you make Word work as it was intended using styles instead of just using it like a typewriter, so Hitch says. Make sure you are exporting as filtered HTML.

You might look up the comments of Hitch who makes books for a living and has got Word singing to make epubs. I kind of get the drift of what she is saying, but I am a WordPerfect fella when I use a word processor. I think the trick is in the styles and correctly using them.

You would be doing better to see if you can get the add-in going. I think it produces simpler code than Calibre which adds in zillions of its own classes and which works, but is very hard to understand or edit.
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:17 PM   #7
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Thanks mrmikel. I use the onboard styles from Word, and I've been exporting as docx, since Calibre can now convert those. I've also noticed Hitch and her comments. She even lives in the same city, so I just may give her a call.

I think I got the add-in working, but the end result I got had tons of <span> tags, and commentary in it. I've got the Calibre CSS figured out, and I'm going to go along with it. I'm reading "ePub Straight to the Point" right now, so here's crossed fingers that I can finally get something working.

Thanks again for the help.

Last edited by Sablerose; 01-02-2014 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 01-03-2014, 01:23 AM   #8
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And there is also the introduction guide to HTML/CSS from Pablo here. He is working on getting it ready for the Wiki.
It is on the wiki. http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/EPub_Tutorial There are wiki links in the content to other pages with more detail information. The ePub category shows lots of examples, references and other documents that should aid anyone getting started.

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Old 01-03-2014, 02:43 AM   #9
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I think I got the add-in working, but the end result I got had tons of <span> tags, and commentary in it. I've got the Calibre CSS figured out, and I'm going to go along with it. I'm reading "ePub Straight to the Point" right now, so here's crossed fingers that I can finally get something working.
That is strange. Empty <span> should be removed during the conversion and what do you mean with commentary? Please drop me a PM so I can investigate.

Keep in mind that the book from Liz is highly aimed towards Apple products and Apple's vision (if you can call it like that) of an ePUB is not the same as the rest of the ebook field...
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:03 AM   #10
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That is strange. Empty <span> should be removed during the conversion and what do you mean with commentary? Please drop me a PM so I can investigate.

Keep in mind that the book from Liz is highly aimed towards Apple products and Apple's vision (if you can call it like that) of an ePUB is not the same as the rest of the ebook field...
Tox:

I think when Sable mentions commentary, s/he probably means the section-break notifications. Vis-a-vis spans, you got me there. I've never even SEEN a span from using your plug-in: wait, are we all talking about ePUB Tools, or is Sable using the macro? Maybe s/he doesn't realize we are discussing the ePUBTools addin? And used the old Clean Word macro? But even so...the spans should not be occurring.

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Old 01-03-2014, 06:32 AM   #11
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By commentary, I mean <!---> Lots of those that I would have to remove.

I will redo my test book, and post the first HTML split so you can see what I mean.

Last edited by Sablerose; 01-03-2014 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:04 AM   #12
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That cannot be output from my add in. Are you sure you used the buttons correctly and not saved to HTML by hand? There is no way this is output generated by the procedures.

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Old 01-03-2014, 01:58 PM   #13
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By commentary, I mean <!---> Lots of those that I would have to remove.

I will redo my test book, and post the first HTML split so you can see what I mean.
I've never seen that from either of Tox's tools. Can you tell us what you did?

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Old 01-03-2014, 06:40 PM   #14
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Can't Repeat the Error

Okay, I got the Epub Tools (specifically) working again, but didn't manage to repeat the errors I found. So, I guess chalk it up to operator-error?

However, I did manage to get a docx copy of the same book into Calibre, converted and tweaked, to load into Marvin on my iPod. So the Tools experiment failed, but the docx one succeeded.

Now to see if I can manage to repeat the success.

Oh, Hitch, thanks for the bit about online Word tutorials. I spent about 4hrs yesterday, looking for and through several. I didn't learn anything new, but did confirm that what I knew, I know is correct. Also, the hints about Outline View and Document Map (both new to me) were nowhere to be found in any tutorial I found, although they allowed me to locate 4 different style errors, in about 1 min.

I also took the precaution of making a Notepad copy of my CSS file, since I'll be using the same formats most of the time. Now I can tweak it if needed, quick and easy.

Quick yes/no advice question? I want to have a first-line indent for my non-heading paragraphs. Would you suggest making a separate style for those, or just highlighting and adding a tab after I paste them into my docx template?

Seems I've learned enough to get along with for now. (crossed fingers)

And thanks for the add-in, Tox. Just didn't work for me. /shrug
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:05 PM   #15
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Okay, I got the Epub Tools (specifically) working again, but didn't manage to repeat the errors I found. So, I guess chalk it up to operator-error?

However, I did manage to get a docx copy of the same book into Calibre, converted and tweaked, to load into Marvin on my iPod. So the Tools experiment failed, but the docx one succeeded.
Well, diff'rent strokes, diff'rent folks.

Quote:
Now to see if I can manage to repeat the success.

Oh, Hitch, thanks for the bit about online Word tutorials. I spent about 4hrs yesterday, looking for and through several. I didn't learn anything new, but did confirm that what I knew, I know is correct. Also, the hints about Outline View and Document Map (both new to me) were nowhere to be found in any tutorial I found, although they allowed me to locate 4 different style errors, in about 1 min.
Well, at least you have the style errors solved. Good news, then.

Quote:
I also took the precaution of making a Notepad copy of my CSS file, since I'll be using the same formats most of the time. Now I can tweak it if needed, quick and easy.

Quick yes/no advice question? I want to have a first-line indent for my non-heading paragraphs. Would you suggest making a separate style for those, or just highlighting and adding a tab after I paste them into my docx template?
Um....tabs? Tabs don't work, at all, in HTML. Not for ePUB, not for MOBI, not for websites. You might still consider the option to simply import a Word file into AWP and go from there; it does a lot of things that you're doing manually now. You need CSS to control paragraph alignment, for all varieties of ebook. You cannot rely on defaults; Amazon, in particular, will hurt you if you do.

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Seems I've learned enough to get along with for now. (crossed fingers)

And thanks for the add-in, Tox. Just didn't work for me. /shrug
The "learned enough" thing is really dependent on whether you're solely doing books for yourself, or doing them for others. If you're making books for your own enjoyment, maybe. If you're making them for others, no. If you're planning to make them for money, absolutely no.

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