Ebook Editing Software

Nowadays, people are more into the concept of Ebook writing and publishing. But, if you want to get your ebook published and purchased by people, it’s important to write a flawless piece of content. Even though it may seem like a simple task, it is not! After all, this is something that involves many different aspects including formatting or editing your manuscript or file – so that it looks professional. In this post, we will be discussing Ebook Editing Software, what is the best free software to write an eBook, how to edit ebooks and how to edit a epub file.

In this post, we review the aspects of Ebook Editing Software, What is the best free software to write an eBook, how to edit ebooks, and how to edit a epub file.

Ebook Editing Software

I hope you’re ready for a little fun! In this post, we’ll explore four software options for making ebooks: Vellum, Scrivener, Sigil and Word (macro). We’ll start with an overview of each program, then show you how to format your manuscript in each one. So let’s get started!


Vellum is a great tool for formatting ebooks. If you’re on a Mac, it can help you make your book look even better than it already does. It’s an app that costs $79 and is available in the App Store.


Scrivener is a powerful writing tool that helps you to organize your thoughts, research and draft. It provides a rich set of tools for many different kinds of writers, including those who are doing academic or journalistic writing.

Scrivener can be used as a word processor (it has great support for most formats), but it’s also much more than that: it’s an outliner, a project management tool, and even an indexing tool.


Sigil is a free and open source ebook editing software available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It can be used to edit ebooks in epub and mobi formats.

It’s also capable of creating ebooks from scratch, though you’ll need another tool to convert them into the proper format (we recommend Calibre).

Word (macro)

Word macros are a way to automate repetitive tasks. Word macros can be used to format your ebook, create a table of contents, and more! For example:

  • To create a table of contents—the first thing you’ll do is type out all the headings that appear in your book. Next, open up your “Table of Contents” document and type in this code:

Sub Macro1()

End Sub

Using pdf files or paper files with the Reedsy Book Editor

You can also use the Reedsy Book Editor to edit your ebook — even if you don’t want to publish it on Reedsy. If you have a book in PDF form, or if you’ve written and printed out your masterpiece, we’ll help you take the next step by allowing you to import into the Reedsy Book Editor.

You can use this tool for free—no matter which service option (publishing or self-publishing) best fits your needs!

What is the best free software to write an eBook

You can use almost any word processor, but some are better suited than others.

After you finish writing your manuscript, you will need to format your text so it is suitable for ebook publishing.

The next step is to create an ebook cover.

The last step is to use tools to help you promote your ebook.

When you write your book, you don’t need to worry about file types.

But later on, you might need some help to convert your ebook to epub, mobi, or pdf.

It’s all a straightforward process, but the tools below will make it easier for you each step of the way.

So let’s take a look at the choices you have so you can decide which ones will be the best for you.

1. Microsoft Word

While it’s not free, if you have MS Word already installed on your computer, you are ready to write your ebook.

The docx file format in Word is compatible with most free self-publishing companies, so you can upload your file without any need to convert.

2. Apple Pages

If you use a Mac, Apple Pages is the best option for you.

It is a great word processor and has a lot of benefits. You can export in docx and epub and also publish directly to Apple Books.

All new Macs have it installed by default. But if you don’t have it, you can download it for free from the App Store.

3. Google Docs

Google Docs is an ideal alternative for both PC and Mac users.

It’s an online word processor, but you can set up Google Docs to work offline.

If you are familiar with Word, you will have no problems writing your ebook with Google Docs.

4. Canva

Every ebook needs a book cover. But hiring a graphic designer or buying pre-made covers can be expensive.

The best free solution is to use Canva to create your ebook cover. You only need a free account to get started.

It’s super easy to use and comes with a range of free templates for ebook covers.

5. Kindle Create

Before you publish your ebook, you will need to format it perfectly.

The easiest way to do it is to use Kindle Create. You can style your manuscript to make it a pleasure to read on Kindle devices.

It is free software from Amazon KDP, available for PC and Mac.

6. Kindle Previewer

It is a helpful tool for authors who want to check the quality of a Kindle ebook before publishing it on Amazon KDP.

If you add images to your ebook, it is the most reliable way to check that you have formatted them correctly.

It also has an import and export function that can help you convert your ebook to an epub file.

7. Calibre

There is so much you can do with it. But for most new authors, you will use it to convert your Word manuscript to mobi, epub, and pdf.

If you are technically minded, you can also edit your ebook in epub or HTML.

It truly is one of the most useful ebook creator tools for authors.

It is available for PC, Mac, and Linux.

how to edit ebooks

This time, we’re going to look at how to use the information and skills I’ve been giving you to make your ebook look the way you want it to.

Only probably not. Almost always, errors pop up in formatting, or you need to add or edit hyperlinks, or you need to edit the book, but don’t want to go though the whole export/conversion hassle again.

If you’re working with a piece of fairly straightforward text and don’t want to worry about adding fine points of formatting, you may be all right using the ebook your app/service created for you.

If, however, you want to get under the proverbial hood and fine-tune what the app hath wrought, then you’re going to need to edit the ebook.

How to make up your mind

Which option should you take?

The only way to decide this question is to look at your newly minted ebook on a variety of ereaders.

No. Not just one. A number.

Now, I know that not everyone has a collection like I do. Still, living in the twenty-first century, you almost certainly have at least two pieces of ereader hardware available to you:

What, you didn’t think your phone was a computer? Believe me, today’s iPhones and Galaxies are far more powerful than the mainframe “supercomputers” I was first introduced to back in the 1980s.

You may also have a tablet around (possibly even an ereader table like a Nook or Kobo or Kindle Fire) or a second computer — possibly running a different operating system, or a different version of the same OS?

In any case, there are a huge variety of free apps available — whether your “computer” runs Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, or some other, more exotic variant.

Install at least a few of the following free apps on each piece of hardware:

There are hundreds of other options available — and that’s not even including the actual ereader hardware you may have hanging around!

In each ereader, open the file. If there’s a “default” display available, make sure that’s what you’re looking at — most readers don’t know they can change the settings — though some certainly do! Remember: miniscule purple Zapfino on an orange background. :shudder:

For each ereader, ask yourself:

Repeat this exercise on as many different ereaders as you can stand.

Are you happy with how the ebook looks on all or most?

If so, great! Validate your ebook, upload it, and get ready to sell!

If not… time to pop the hood. Get your overalls on and your grease gun out; we’re going to edit.

Under the hood

There are basically two ways to do get your ebook looking and working the way you want it to:

Personally, while I don’t mind working on raw HTML and such without visual feedback, it’s nice to see how changes are going to look as you’re making them. So What You See Is (more or less) What You Get it is for me!

There are a number of WYSIWYG apps that you can use to edit your ePub file without opening it up:

I have been using Sigil for many years, and am very happy with it, but you should find whichever solution works best for you.

That said, in the following examples, I’m going to be using Sigil. For the most part, you should be able to follow along whatever editing app you’re using.

By the way, if you haven’t read the previous posts on the anatomy of an ebook, on HTML, and on CSS (1, 2, and 3), the following probably won’t be very useful.

Beating serifs into plowshares — cleaning up the text

So, be honest: how did the text look on the various ereaders?

If you need to do some clean-up, find the CSS stylesheet(s). In Sigil, look in the /Styles folder for one or more files ending in the extension .css. Hopefully, all of the body text will be defined as a single class (e.g., Body-Text, as I called it in my sample ebook White Robes) or they’re all simply plain <p> tags — no class attribute, and no ID. Likewise, hopefully the chapter headers are all the same, and the images are likewise given only a few identifiers.

More likely, the software that created the ePub file added a passel of extra classifications — as many as one for each instance of an element, so that no two paragraphs/images/whatever are styled the same. This will mean that any clean up is going to need to start in the stylesheet.

The easiest way to do this is to comment out the extra styles and see how that looks.

To comment out a line or more of a style sheet, use a forward slash followed by an asterisk to open the comment (/* ) and an asterisk followed by a slash (*/ )to close it again:

See how that first rule is green — and is preceded and followed by the slash/asterisk combination? It’s been commented out.

Commenting out a style rule means that the ereader ignores it — it might as well not exist. We haven’t yet deleted it however! We may find we need it.

As it happens, I can comment out all of the rules in the stylesheet.

Here’s what the beginning of White Robes looks like normally:

And here’s what it looks like with all of the styles commented out:

Grief may not be terribly interesting; neither is that ebook. Still, this gives me an idea of the blank slate.

Next I find the body text style — (Body-Text in White Robes). I un-comment it, and I add the generic paragraph selector to it:

If there isn’t a single style that represents the basic body paragraph, I choose one of the rules and use that one. I can always edit it later!

So now not only will any <p> element with the class Body-Text follow these rules, but any <p> that does have other rules applied to it will as well. Since all of those added rules have been commented out, that means every paragraph is now a body paragraph!

Here’s what it looks like now:

Better! But I miss the drop cap and the dark red color (#B80000! ) for the chapter header. Also, the first paragraph isn’t supposed to be indented.

So I uncomment those styles, and now I’m back in business:

What I do then is experiment, un-commenting just those styles I actually need.

A lot of the leftover styles will be changes that you (or your designer) made so the book would look good in print — but those considerations won’t necessarily matter now. Kerning the letters together to squeeze a paragraph so that it fits on a page instead of creating a widow, for example, is silly when you don’t know what size your page is going to be!

Many of the remaining leftover styles will be funky character-specific styles that snuck through when you cleaned up the manuscript. Surprise! You really don’t need or want a class that specifies that two words in chapter 15 are in Times rather than Times New Roman.

When I’m done, I’ve un-commented the rules that I want and need to maintain. Hopefully, this will be relatively few.

Once you’re done, look through the ebook. Make sure every paragraph looks the way you want it to look.

how to edit a epub file

So, you’ve conquered the question of “What is an eBook?” You’ve figured out how to make an eBook, and now, I’m guessing you’re here for a little guidance on completing your eBook, am I right?

Great news, I’m here to give you that guidance.

I’m sure you’ve done your fair share of Google searches at this point and haven’t found your answer. I did the same. In fact, I ended up more confused than when I started. So, to spare you the trouble, I’ll share my findings with you.

There are quite a few options for eBook formats. Dozens actually. But the likelihood of you actually using most of them? Very slim. So, I’ve narrowed it down to the easiest to use and most widely used eBook formats. Here they are:

Top eBook formats

Let’s take a detailed look at the top five eBook formats: TXT, EPUB, MOBI, AZW, and PDF.

TXT (.txt) format

A plain text file is the simplest file format that uses the file extension .txt. These files are used strictly for text, images and graphs are not supported. Because of their simplicity, these files are usually for storing information with no formatting beyond basic fonts and font styles. They don’t have fixed layouts, digital rights management (DRM) protection, or interactivity. TXT files are great for text-heavy eBooks, like research reports, for example.  

EPUB (.epub) format

An EPUB, or electronic publication, is the most widely supported eBook format and can be read on a variety of devices, including computers, smartphones, tablets, and most eReaders (except Kindles). All EPUB file formats are DRM protected and have strong copy protection. EPUB files are reflowable, but also support fixed layouts. Let’s check out the difference:

Reflowable EPUB files are designed in a way that allows the text and images reflow to fit all screen sizes. They have a flat, linear design, which means images float along with the text (no overlap or text wrap), so this format is best used for text-heavy eBooks. Reflowable EPUBs are the most common eBook format and have the widest distribution because it’s the format that is most familiar to users.

Fixed layout EPUBs, on the other hand, have sophisticated designs. Whatever effects, images, and layout you have in the program, will be kept in it’s fixed layout. It also supports javascript, which allows for interactivity and animations. Another cool feature? Read aloud, a feature where the words on the screen light up or change color while a voiceover reads the story, which makes them great for children’s books.

One downfall of fixed layout EPUBs, though, is that they are limited in distribution compared to reflowable EPUBs. They aren’t sold in the Kindle store, so they’re usually found in the ibookstore, which has a smaller audience than Kindle.

MOBI (.mobi) format

A MOBI file, otherwise known as a Mobipocket eBook file, was used as the first file format by Amazon when it launched Kindle. In 2011, support for the MOBI file was discontinued and has since been replaced by the AZW file format. Although MOBI files are no longer supported, Amazon’s kindle devices use MOBI file structure, but they now have a different DRM protection and use the AZW file extension. Because of this, MOBI files are still widely popular for devices with low bandwidth, except Nooks and Sony readers. Outside of Kindle, though, you won’t find them too often.

AZW (.azw) and AZW3 (.azw3) formats

AZW files, also known as Kindle files, were developed by Amazon for its Kindle eReaders, replacing MOBI files. AZW files use the MOBI format, but contains DRM protection that only allows them to be read on Kindles or devices with Kindle apps. Additively, they are only accessible from the Amazon online bookstore. These files can store complex content like bookmarks, annotations, and highlights.

Older Kindle eReaders use the AZW format, but after the release of the Kindle Fire, Amazon created AZW3 files, also known as the Kindle Format 8 (KF8). AZW3 is the next-generation version of the Kindle eBook file, adding support for HTML and CSS to the existing Kindle format, making it more advanced to support additional styles, fonts, and layouts.

PDF (.pdf)

A PDF, also known as a portable document format, isn’t technically a true eBook because it’s not reflowable, but it’s the format most people are familiar with. Created by Adobe, PDFs are known for their ease of use and ability to maintain high-end designs and formats. Because they hold their format and aren’t reflowable, they can be difficult to read on a small screen and have limited interactivity.

PDFs are similar to the fixed layout EPUB file format, but, unlike the EPUB, they only have basic copy protection, which means they can be easily downloaded and shared for free. Despite this, they are still one of the most commonly used eBook formats, especially by marketers.

PDFs can’t be sold in the iBookstore or Kindle store, but they can be read on just about any device.

Here’s a quick, easy look at the top five formats, what they support, and what platforms they can be used on.

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