Using Pressbooks

Creating Content


Transcript of video

Today we’ll be going through how to create content for your book. Now, it’s best practice to create content directly in Pressbooks, rather than working in another application like Microsoft Word and then copying into Pressbooks. So we’ll be working right in Pressbooks for this tutorial. Now just a note, I’ve got the Editing view open in this left tab, and I’ve got the Book view open in this other right tab. And we’ll be switching back and forth between them to see how our changes are affecting the book.

So a quick refresher – books in Pressbooks are made up of chapters, which are the building blocks of content, and parts, which are organizational blocks that house those chapters. Do not add any content to a part – even though there’s an interface available down here, adding content directly to parts will likely disrupt some the functionality of your textbook. So don’t do it.

Instead, all of our content will go directly into the book’s chapters. So let’s open up “Chapter 1”, and we’ll take a look at the tools available for editing content. And we’ll start up at the top here.

So here we can change the chapter’s title and its URL. So maybe, we have a title to add to the chapter number, so we can change this to – ‘Chapter 1. Intro to Pressbooks’. And then in the Permalink bar underneath – and the permalink is just another name for this chapter’s URL or web address – we’ll adjust the permalink accordingly, so I’ll click on the “Edit” button on the right hand side and I’ll add ‘-intro-to-pressbooks’ to the end of the URL because now that makes more sense, it matches the chapter’s new title. We’ll click “OK”, and then we’ll go down to the bottom-right corner, and we’ll click “Update”. Now Pressbooks does save the book automatically every once in a while, but you should make a habit of saving regularly as you work just to be safe. Also, the book view won’t update until you update your chapter, so anytime you want to preview a change, you also need to update your book.

So now let’s go over to the “book view”, on the right tab, and we will refresh the page, and notice that the URL has changed, and the chapter title has changed as well, so those are the two things we changed, that’s worked exactly like we wanted it to, so that’s great. So now we can go back to the “editing view”, and now we can start directly adding content to the chapter itself. Now, if you’d like to work on your content without the distraction of the rest of the interface, you can click on this little button here on the right – and you’ll enter distraction-free writing mode. And the rest of the interface will fade out unless you mouse over the edges.

So right above the distraction-free writing mode button, there are two tabs, Visual and Text, which are different ways of editing the text. We’ll mostly be looking at the tools in the Visual tab, and do a brief overview of the tools you’re most likely to need.

So down in the text field, will be all of our content. And anything that we put in here will appear on the rendered page. So let’s type some text down here. This’ll say, ‘Welcome to my very first paragraph in this test textbook!’. Alright, and then in the toolbar right above that, we have our usual tools for editing text. So if you’ve ever used Microsoft Word, most of these should be quite familiar to you. We can bold text, italicize it, we can create bulleted lists, and we can turn those into numbered lists, we can change the alignment of different elements, and then using this chain button, we can insert or edit a hyperlink. Now, the process of hyperlinking is a little bit more involved, so we’ll cover that in more depth in a later tutorial.

Alright, so those are the basic tools that you might need, but also, if you look at the very end of the toolbar on the right hand side, you’ll see another button that says Toolbar Toggle. And if you click on that, you’ll see that a whole bunch of other tools appear, and these are some more advanced tools, many of which may be useful to you.

So we’ll take a look at what these are.

So this drop-down menu in the second box allows you create headings. So, for example, let’s say I’ve got a section heading that I want, ‘How To Set Up Pressbooks’. I want that text to look like a heading, so I’ll highlight it, I’ll go into the first drop-down menu, it says “Paragraph” right now, and I’ll change that to “Heading 2”.

And now, it looks like a real heading, it’s got presence, it’s a bit bigger, it’s bolded, you can tell that it’s now a section heading.

This other drop-down menu here that says Textboxes allows us to put content into special textboxes – and again, that’s a bit more of an involved process, so we’ll cover that in a later tutorial as well.

Some more basic tools, if you go over to the right, you can change the text colour, and the background colour of your text.

If you go a few over to the right, you’ve got our Special characters button. So, for example, let’s say that this is a chemistry book, and I need to talk about alpha particles. So if I want to talk about alpha particles, I need the alpha symbol, so I’ll go back to the “Special characters” button, I’ll click on it, and then I’ll locate the “alpha symbol”, there it is, right there, click on that and it gets inserted right into the text.

In the bottom row, the FN button is the footnote button, which allows you to create footnotes that link to the bottom of the chapter. So let’s create a footnote, just as an example, let’s go back to this first line here, at the very end we’ll write, ‘This is a footnote’. And then I’ll highlight that text, and I’ll click on the “footnote” button. And now you’ll see that it’s surrounded by strange little footnote boxes. This may not make very much sense to you, so we’ll have to go and update, click on the “Update chapter” button in the bottom right, and we’ll see what changes this has made in the book view, so let’s refresh the page, and now you’ll see right next to the very first sentence there’s a little number “1”. If you click on that, this isn’t a very long chapter, but it actually jumps to the end of the page, where it says, ‘This is a footnote’, and that’s the text that we put in that footnote tag. So that’s how footnotes work.

And then the last thing we’ll cover, basics, superscripting and subscripting. So in my first sentence, if I want to say, ‘Welcome to my very first paragraph in this 1st test textbook!’ and I want the ‘st’ in ‘1st’ to be superscripted, I just highlight them and click the “Superscript” button. If I want to subscript them, I want to un-highlight superscript and then hit “Subscript”.

So that is a brief overview on how to add content to your Pressbooks textbook. I know we didn’t cover everything, but there will be further tutorials on hyperlinking and special textboxes, so do watch those tutorials if you want to learn how to use those tools.

Do also note that we only covered the Visual tab – but if you’ve got some skill with HTML and know what you’re doing, I would actually recommend doing your work in the Text tab, which uses HTML formatting. Or at least doing your work in the Visual tab, and then cleaning up your code in the Text tab. Editing your content in the Text tab just tends to be cleaner, as editing in the Visual tab usually creates messy, extraneous code that needs to be fixed later.

Alright, so there you go! That’s an overview of the content-creation tools available to you, and how to publish content in chapters in your Pressbooks textbook.

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