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Publishing in Pressbooks: Book Basics

This is a short introductory guide to using Pressbooks to self-publish.

Have More Questions?

Have more questions? Contact Scholarly Communication and Publishing at for more information and guidance or visit our website. 

Scholarly Communication and Publishing

The Visual & Text Editors

When editing in Pressbooks, you can use the visual editor or the text editor. The default is the visual editor, which uses a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) similar to word processors or blogging platforms. The text editor allows you to edit the plain text and HTML code.

The Visual Editor:

  • Write and revise content
  • Add and format media and content
  • Structure page content, add text anchors and hyperlinks

The Text Editor:

  • Clean up HTML code that might be causing formatting problems (especially if the text was copied and pasted from Microsoft Word or similar)
  • Paste HTML embed codes

Pressbooks supports embedding from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Social Media sites (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), Flickr, and and many others.  

Footnotes and Chapter Endnotes

Footnotes can be added in the visual or text editor. No HTML encoding is needed.

In the Visual editor, use the Insert Footnote button in the editing toolbar. When the footnote button is pressed, the footnote content is added directly in line with the previous text (as opposed to the bottom of the page). 

Demonstration of the footnote button

You can also use the footnote shortcode:

This is the main body of text. [footnote] This is a test footnote. It will appear at the bottom of the page, automatically numbered and hyperlinked. [/footnote] In editing mode, the main body of text continues on. 


Adding Media

Images can be uploaded either in bulk, through the Media Library from the dashboard, or individually, through the visual editor. 

The Media Library importer

Edit items' metadata individually to craft titles, captions, alternative text, and attributions. For books with a high volume of media, the attribution metadata crafted here can be automatically inserted as footnotes or endnotes

Crafting image metadata in the media library

Image Metadata:

  • Title
  • Caption: Necessary to make images render properly in e-readers
  • Alt-text: Can be the same as a caption, but are necessary for readers with visual impairments. Learn more about crafting alt-text.
  • Description: With this optional field, you can add a lengthier description to the media you add. To make this description visible in your book, open the chapter where you have embedded the media. Select the media and press Edit. Under Display Settings find Link To and select Attachment Page from the dropdown box. Now, when users click the image, they will be able to view the description on a separate page.

Using Media

In Pressbooks, users interact with media as they encounter it in the sections of your book. They cannot view your media library.

To embed media in a section, navigate to the Edit Chapter screen by selecting Organize from the side navigation.

The organize menu

The organize menu provides an overview of the entire book as it stands—front matter, main body, and backmatter and allows you to edit, delete, or add sections of your book. To add media to a chapter, add a new chapter or select an existing one to edit.

At the top of the visual editor, find the Add Media button.

The edit chapter screen, pointing out the add media button which is below the title field.

Items from your media library will appear automatically with the associated metadata. If you wish, you may edit the metadata from this screen. You may also upload new files, insert media from a URL, or insert multiple items at a time to create a gallery.

Pressbooks can handle audio and video, but as the file upload size is limited, you may have to rely on external hosts like Youtube or Vimeo and embedding them with the text editor.

Select the media to insert and edit the metadata

From the Insert Media dialog box, you can choose how you want to the image to look on the page in terms of alignment and size. When you are finished, select Insert.

Image details screen

At any time, you can go back and edit by selecting the image on the page and pressing the Edit button. You can even replace the original image file while retaining the metadata.


Some of the content on this page was adapted from the Pressbooks User Guide by Book Oven Inc. CC-BY 4.0.