* Formatting Tips: Markdown, Textile and calibre

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by John. Filed under Formatting Tips.


About Formatting Tips.

Up to this point Formatting Tips have been focused on the EPUB format and working directly with the underlying XHTML and CSS. Not everyone wants or needs this level of control over the layout of their book. Often times a book only needs basic formatting such as headings, bold, and italic. There are other easier ways to format an ebook. However, in this case simpler does mean basic.

A very easy way to format an ebook is to start with a plain text file (TXT). Then use either Markdown or Textile to add the formatting. Both Markdown and Textile allow for simple text formatting and they are designed to be converted to HTML.

By using TXT with a formatting syntax you can use pretty much any text editor you want. Markdown and Textile are very simple formats that are much easier to learn than XHTML and CSS. Adding things like *bold* is as easy as putting a * before and after a segment of text.

I recommend looking at both Markdown and Textile. There are differences in what formatting they support but they both support the basics like bold, italic, and headings. I’ve found Markdown to be easier to use but Textile offers more options.

After adding your formatting to the text it’s very easy to turn the TXT file into your desired final format (EPUB or MOBI most likely). calibre supports TXT formatted with either Markdown or Textile. However, the Textile support is more robust. Simply convert to the output format of your choosing.

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3 Responses to “Formatting Tips: Markdown, Textile and calibre”

  1. Ronald Ledford Says:

    I use word 2007 for readng and formatting a text file. Then I use Sigil for converting the text file into a epub file. I then add this book to alibre and convert the epub to a mobi file and then download that to myu Kindle. My first effort came outpretty decent. I am happy with this. I wonder why I can not take the epub file and change the extension to html and ship that dirctly to Amazon.

  2. Ronald Ledford Says:

    Markup and Textile are Linux programs. Can not use them on Windows. I do not run virtual machines nor do I dual boot.

  3. John Says:

    Markdown and Textile are both markup languages. Think HTML. Markdown and Textile both have conversion programs that will convert Markdown and Textile formatted text to HTML. Some of these only work on Linux. Calibre has full support for both and runs on multiple Operating Systems.

    You would take a plain text file. Add formatting using one of these two markup languages. Meaning you would say do *bold* to get bold text when converted to HTML. Many people find the simple syntax of these to be easier to work with than HTML.