PROJECT: Prepare a manuscript for conversion to an ebook

Aldous Huxley manuscript

In this project, you’ll mark up a manuscript for conversion to an ebook. The project will help you learn the concepts and techniques we’ve covered in the course so far.

This project is in two parts:

  1. In Part 1 you’ll learn how to set up Microsoft Word to do simple ebook mark-up.
  2. In Part 2 you’ll prepare and mark up a sample book including text and images.

Later, in the Production module, we’ll take the marked-up document you prepare here and actually turn it into an ebook. You’ll then be able to use these techniques to produce your own ebooks.

So set aside some quiet time, turn off the distractions, and let’s get started.

Image Credit: The Paris Review


We’ve created tutorials to take you through each step. You’ll probably need a couple of hours and you can break it up over two or three sessions.

Some preparatory items:

  • We suggest that you keep these instructions open to refer to, or use the links at the bottom of this page to print them, create a PDF of them, or send them to your Kindle or Kindle app.
  • We’ve supplied the images and placeholder text files we use in the tutorials. You can download these demo files from the Resources link below and use them in your project, or you can use your own files if you prefer.
  • We’ve used the program most commonly-used for writing and ebook conversion, Microsoft Word 2010. All instructions relate to this. Most word processors will have equivalent functions which you’ll be able to access through their help files.
  • If you don’t have a suitable program, a very good free option is Open Office (


  • Download the project files from this link. You should then unzip them into a directory. You can also open the .zip folder by double-clicking on it. This package also includes some files that will be used in the next module when we actually convert the manuscript to an ebook.
  • Revision and reference. You might want to revise or refer to the topic of suitable formatting options for ebooks. If you plan to use your own manuscript, you’ll need to prepare any images as described in the two topics on images. Finally, you might want to revise or refer to the section on formatting the parts of an ebook.

Part 1. Prepare Microsoft Word for marking up a manuscript


We’re going to spend a few minutes getting MS Word in shape. In the process of doing this, you’ll also learn some handy things about styles, one of the core features to produce tidy, well-structured documents.


Here’s an outline of what you’ll be doing. The detailed steps are in the accordion sections (click to open them).

  1. Go to the options menu in Word and make some changes to Word’s set-up.
  2. Set up a small group of styles which you’ll use to mark-up your manuscript. These are the styles that will map to corresponding HTML tags when the manuscript is converted.
  3. Save this group of styles so that you can use them again.
  4. That’s it. You’re ready to start marking up your manuscript.


  • STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS: This will take you through setting up MS Word and creating a set of mark-up styles to apply to the manuscript.
INSTRUCTIONS: How to set up MS Word for ebook markup

That’s it! We’re now ready to begin marking up our manuscript.

Part 2. Mark up a sample manuscript for conversion


Now we’re ready to start work on marking up our manuscript. You’re welcome to use your own manuscript, but for this exercise we’ve taken a few chapters from a public domain called, A Textbook of the History of Painting. The book includes both text and illustrations. The book’s Project Gutenberg link is

Note that the mark-up system we will use is a good, general-purpose method but different conversion processes may require variations on this scheme.


  1. Normalize your manuscript to remove old formatting.
  2. Apply styles to major elements like the title, chapter heading, sub-headings.
  3. Insert illustrations and style captions.
  4. Repeat for each chapter until complete.


  • STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS: These will take you through the manuscript markup process.
INSTRUCTIONS: How to mark up a manuscript



Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.


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