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Old 12-02-2016, 03:17 AM   #1
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I have no idea what I'm doing; PLZ SHOW ME THE LIGHT

Hey everybody

I'm 100% green to this whole e-book world so bare with me here for any excessive noobishness. Anyway I've got some ebooks in PDF and epub format on my computer that I want to put onto my 2nd gen kindle paperwhite. After some searching I found out about Calibre and downloaded it so I could convert the files into either mobi or azw3 (btw which is the better format for my device?). I can convert them and get them onto my kindle, sure nuff. My problem is that when I pull up the newly converted documents using my kindle, I don't have a "functioning" table of contents, which makes it extremely gross and clunky to navigate.

So I did some more searching and all I could really find were posts that were a few years old. The consensus seemed to be that I would have to manually edit the html and insert the ToC myself. Now I don't have much coding experience but I'm the type to figure that sh*t out if y'all can point me to some good tutorials and/or reference points for a total beginner on how exactly to do that.

From what I gather so far, I'll need this Sigil application i just downloaded. I'll need to use calibre to convert my files to epubs 1st(if they aren't already), then open them up in Sigil to make the table of contents manually. Again most of the stuff I could find were on posts that were 2+ years old so if there's a simpler way and/or better software(it's gotta be free tho cus im poe ) that y'all know of, please direct me to it.

So I'm lookin for some info on:
-How to create that *interactive ToC using calibre, sigil, or whatever other software yall recommend to get the job done
*I repeat; I am a noob so not sure what the technical terms are but by interactive I mean: ebooks I download from the kindle store let me use the "go to" tab and select chapters and/or subheadings like hyperlinks, taking me directly to whichever chapter or subheading I select.
-Some relevant posts, threads, etc that can teach me the basics of how to edit the code to get what I'm looking for
-If there are any easier more updated ways to create a table of contents with instuctions on how to, or a link to some instructions
-Which format is best for my device?

Thanks a lot
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:23 AM   #2
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Well, first of all, I'd lose the PDF unless you're building a fixed-format book with all its limitations. Do you have a Word or OpenOffice Writer document? That would be a good start. Look at the fourth post on my blog notjohnkdp.blogspot.com for the pointers I have collected over the years on that subject.

I think you're on the right track with Sigil, but it does have a learning curve. It's not as easy as throwing a Word doc at the KDP platform and expecting it to fall off as a fully functioning e-book.

There are two TOCs in an e-book. First is the actual (html) TOC at the front of the book. Sigil will build that for you, though personally I don't like the appearance so I build my own. Second is the virtual (NCX) TOC that can be called up as a sidebar on most newer Kindles, Fire tablets, and (I think) Kindle apps. Sigil actually generates that on the fly, from your H1 (H2, H3, H4) headings. All I generally do, toward the end of the process and after I've made any changes in the headings that I'm likely to do, I just go to Tools > Table of Contents > Generate Table of Contents. I glance down the list to make sure it's what I want. I click on OK, and the job is done. Sigil is the best thing that ever happened to self-publishers.

I just upload that epub to the KDP and let it convert there. I hasten to add that I don't do fancy stuff. No drop caps, no media calls, no embedded fonts (and no fixed format). Simple is good.
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:51 PM   #3
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Hey Notjohn, thanks for the reply. I do have Word, but it's a little dated at 2010. I don't think that should matter though.

I've taken a look through some of the things in that section of your blog and have grasped a bit more of what exactly I'm trying to do here, but I could use a little more direction.

So let's take this pdf I downloaded of Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus as an example. I converted it to a word document but what's the process from there?

So far I'm under the impression that I'm suppose to do something like this:
1) Reference the Build Your Book for Kindle guide from Amazon to do all the necessary formatting to set up the the Table of Contents
2) Use Sigil to convert the now formatted e-book w ToC into a MOBI or AZW3
3) Use Calibre to put the MOBI or AZW3 onto my Kindle

If I've mixed anything up or I'm completely off please correct me n set me on the right path.

Show this young Padawan your ways, Jedi Master
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Old 12-04-2016, 07:17 AM   #4
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If you have a well-formatted Word doc by using styles, you can upload it directly to the KDP. Download the "mobi" and examine it in Kindle Previewer or sideload it to your Paperwhite.

If you're not happy with the result, run the Word doc through Word2CleanHtml.com online (there are multiple other ways to clean Word docs) and open the html file in Sigil and tweak it there. There's a learning curve, to be sure.

Sigil outputs an epub. (I stick with epub2.) Upload the epub to the KDP and proceed as above.
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Old 12-10-2016, 12:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notjohn View Post
There are two TOCs in an e-book. First is the actual (html) TOC at the front of the book. Sigil will build that for you, though personally I don't like the appearance so I build my own.
NJ:

I just gotta ask. Why on earth would you build your own, over appearance? Why the hell don't you just change the CSS to do what you want?

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Old 12-15-2016, 10:25 PM   #6
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Your help is much appreciated John. I now have a functioning ToC
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:39 AM   #7
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NJ:

I just gotta ask. Why on earth would you build your own, over appearance? Why the hell don't you just change the CSS to do what you want?

Hitch
Fun fact: if you put a custom sgc-toc.css file in the Sigil preferences folder it'll use the styles in that stylesheet instead of the default styles.
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Old 12-16-2016, 07:42 PM   #8
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Fun fact: if you put a custom sgc-toc.css file in the Sigil preferences folder it'll use the styles in that stylesheet instead of the default styles.
Doits:

You so totally rock. :-) I was waiting for him to say, "hey, do you know..." :-)

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Old 12-20-2016, 01:14 PM   #9
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NJ:

I just gotta ask. Why on earth would you build your own, over appearance? Why the hell don't you just change the CSS to do what you want?

Hitch
It's faster this way, for me. I'm not formatting books for others; I'm doing one or (rarely) two a year, and the commonality is not all that great. If writing the html TOC adds more than a minute to the book-making process, I'd be surprised.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:55 PM   #10
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It's faster this way, for me. I'm not formatting books for others; I'm doing one or (rarely) two a year, and the commonality is not all that great. If writing the html TOC adds more than a minute to the book-making process, I'd be surprised.
It's faster to build from scratch than to tweak the existing auto-created one? Pardon me if I don't quite believe that.
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Old 12-21-2016, 08:35 AM   #11
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Hey Notjohn, thanks for the reply. I do have Word, but it's a little dated at 2010. I don't think that should matter though...
For converting PDFs to Word, I know that the latest version of Word from Office 365 has a lot of intelligence, so you might want to try the latest version. I'm not sure how long it has had this kind of capability.

Last edited by willus; 12-21-2016 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 12-21-2016, 01:40 PM   #12
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For converting PDFs to Word, I know that the latest version of Word from Office 365 has a lot of intelligence, so you might want to try the latest version. I'm not sure how long it has had this kind of capability.
My experience with that? (And bear in mind, we do this cmmercially, so if that worked, I'd be ecstatic?), RUN DO NOT WALK from that.

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Old 12-22-2016, 08:29 AM   #13
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My experience with that? (And bear in mind, we do this cmmercially, so if that worked, I'd be ecstatic?), RUN DO NOT WALK from that.

Hitch
I just wanted to point out that if PDF is your only option for the source material, it is definitely worth trying the conversion using a modern version of Word. Can you post an example or two of a PDF that does not convert well?
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Old 12-22-2016, 02:43 PM   #14
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I just wanted to point out that if PDF is your only option for the source material, it is definitely worth trying the conversion using a modern version of Word. Can you post an example or two of a PDF that does not convert well?
For what purpose? I don't mean, the purpose of your request; I mean, a PDF that "does not convert well,*" to be used for what purpose?

Spoiler:
*Besides the answer, "all of them?"


I mean, I have a thousand or more I could list. I need to know how the Word file will be utilized to narrow it down. I have a perfect example of one for ANY purpose, but I doubt that the client would let me display it.

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Old 12-23-2016, 07:17 AM   #15
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For what purpose? ...
For the purpose of re-formatting (potentially eventually into mobi/e-pub) so they are easier to read with an e-book. I've attached example PDFs and related thumbnails from (a) the PDF, (b) the PDF loaded into MS Word, and (c) a re-formatted version of the PDF in MS Word. For each case, I loaded the PDF directly into MS Word (subscription version of Office 365 Home), then did nothing but a 30-second re-format by changing the margins. No editing.
1. Computer-generated, fairly complex layout--two columns, inset graphics/tables.
2. Scanned from a book.
In both cases, I can quickly get to a very readable solution with minimal editing work.
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File Type: pdf scanned.pdf (1.47 MB, 84 views)
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