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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Publishing in Pressbooks: Planning Ahead

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


On the web version of Pressbooks, each "chapter" functions as a single scrollable webpage. When working with a lot of content per-chapter, it is important to consider how the organization of the book will work best for your content and readers using the book.

Anatomy of a Pressbook

A publication created in Pressbooks is structured like a standard book with familiar types of sections and chapters:

  • Front Matter (Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, Introduction)
  • Main Body that contains Parts & Chapters
  • Back Matter (Bibliography, Index, etc.)

Books are made up of parts. When you create a new book, Pressbooks will automatically generate 3 parts of your book: Front matter Main body Back matter  You can always add new parts to your book


You can embed limited types of media throughout the chapters in your Pressbooks publication, or have a special section at the end for media objects. In the end, your Pressbooks publication will look like a type-set publication.

Pressbooks automatically creates a title page, copyright page, and table of contents. 

One Page Organization

Pros Cons
Single-scrolling page Can be overwhelming when there is too much content
All chapter content is in one place Can be too busy when text, media, and interactive content is combined
All interactive exercises are embedded in a chapter With textbooks, it is not as easy to get back to earlier content or review it

To overcome the challenges of the single-scrolling page, you might use Anchors throughout the chapter. Anchors are links that take you to a specific place on the page. These could be placed at the top of a chapter to link to section headings. 

Multi-Chapters as Pages

Pros Cons
Reads more like a traditional book Adds a lot of "chapters," crowding the table of contents and navigation
Content is broken up into pieces, so readers can pick and choose what they want to read People may skip important content
Items can stand alone (interactive exercises, media, other content) Needs more thought to structuring up-front 

The multi-chapter method of organization can be made more manageable by using Parts to contain the chapters. 

Copyright Advisory

When gathering material for your digital exhibit, it is important to be aware of copyright and licensing restrictions.

If an image or text is taken from an electronic database (e.g. ARTStor) or a website owned by an organization (e.g. The Getty, DPLA), there are often restrictions on how you can re-use and display these materials. Some material might even be in the public domain—books, images, scores, etc. published pre-1924—but the holding institution can still apply licenses and restrictions.

Learn more from the Copyright Reference Guide and Copyright and Digitization of Library Materials or set up a consultation with the Copyright Librarian.