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How To Produce An eBook With Pages – Part 1

by | May 6, 2011 | 45 comments

Note: Part 2 of this series covers adding sound and video files to your ebook.

Ebooks are now a common part of our digital landscape. This year promises to bring a significant increase in the number of choices of tablet-like mobile devices. This is likely to only add to the astonishing growth in ebook consumption. But ebook consumption isn’t the only area that is likely to experience tremendous growth this year. It appears that ebook production has arrived for the common man/woman.

There are many advantages of this type of self-publishing for both business and educational folk alike:

  • relatively low barrier to entry
  • establish expertise in subject area
  • increasing number of distribution channels
  • multimedia potential of the ebook (epub) format
  • low overhead
  • great marketing/promotional medium
  • great educational medium


When you see just how easy it is to create an ebook with Apple’s Pages software, you may decide to become an author yourself.

Pages has had the ability to export to the ePub format since the release of iWork 9.0.4 in August of 2010. At that time, Pages had some rough edges when it came producing a well formatted ebook. When Apple released Pages 4.0.5 in January, 2011, it greatly improved the semantics of their ePub export. Today, with some careful attention to a few details and methods, you can create an ePub-formatted ebook.

It’s important to point out that while the ePub format works on most ebook readers (including Apple’s iBook reader) and is opensource, it is not the format used by Amazon’s Kindle reader (which uses the MOBI format). There are software tools, like Calibre, available to convert from ePub to MOBI. (I may do a post in the future going over these conversion tools and options.)

Getting Started
The best way to get started with creating an ebook in Pages is to download a template that Apple has created for making ebooks. Download it here: eBook Template

When you open this file in Pages, you’ll notice styles in the Styles Drawer that are specific to tagging an ebook. These styles are applied to the elements of your book to properly format the document for the ePub export. The pages in this document have examples of these styles applied to text and a brief description of how they should be used.

Styles in Pages

(Click on illustrations to enlarge.)

Examples of styles
Examples of styles


Dealing With Images
There are a few things to keep in mind as you create your book. If you will be inserting images into your book, you must make sure that you set them to be “inline” images. That is, the images flow with the text rather than independent of the text. To do that, click on the image, and in the Inspector click on the Wrap Inspector tab, then click on the Inline (moves with text) radio button. This assures that the images in your ebook stay with the appropriate text even when the ebook reader adjusts the font sizes.



Images can wrap in 6 different ways. You’ll need to check the Object causes wrap checkbox on the Inspector pane. Then click on one of the six illustrations below this checkbox to indicate how the image will behave in the text. The illustrations provide an efficient way of explaining how each work.

image wrap


Dealing With Font Sizes
I found the font sizes in this template to be too large (especially if your Titles or Heads are lengthy). This caused many of my titles in the ebook to overwhelm the page. You can test this with your own ebook, but generally I found that bumping the Title, Head, and SubHead font sizes down 10-15 pts worked well.

Testing Your eBook Along The Way
The best way to perfect the look and feel of your ebook is to export your Pages document to the ePub format and test on an ebook reader. This process is simple. I find myself going through this process several times in the creation of an ebook.

First, save your Pages document. Then, under the Share menu choose Export… This brings up a window indicating the export options.

export options

Export options


Click on the ePub tab at the top and then click on the Next… button. Save the epub to your computer’s desktop.

Getting The Ebook to Your Reader
There are several ways to get the ePub file to your ebook reader, but I will go over the two easiest ways.

The first is simply to email the ePub file to yourself as an attachment. Then open the email on your ebook reader device and send it to your eReader. On an iPad or iPhone, clicking on the ePub file attachment brings up a dialogue box asking if you’d like to send it to iBooks. It then sends it to iBook and opens your book for you to begin reading.

The second way is open iTunes on your computer and then drag the ePub file into iTunes. This places the file into the Books area in iTunes. Then you simply sync your iPad/iPhone to your computer and the book appears in your iBooks library.

In part 2 of this series, I will go over the specific methods for adding sound files and video files to your ebook. Stay tuned!


  1. Howard Hanson

    Do you also offer book cover designs?
    Can the book be horizontal or Vertical?
    Can every other page be blank?

  2. patrick

    Howard, I don’t do book cover design, but I’m sure there are plenty of graphics artists out there who could help you out.

    Yes, the books can be both vertical or horizontal. And, yes, every other page can be blank if you wish.

  3. Curtis

    I can help create an ebook cover design. Click on my name above and message me!

  4. Dustin Ashe

    Thanx for the article. I know HTML and CSS and was going to code my ebook by hand, but your article has convinced me to try laying it out in Pages first and then alter it using code if necessary. Maybe it will be faster. I also plan to make my releases illustrated, so working with the images is a concern. I’ll give it a try and see. 🙂

    Also, I do cover design, too. If anybody is looking for a cover designer, check out my design site for details. Thanx! 🙂

  5. Nathalie

    I’m looking into ebook conversion. I thought it was cool that Page can convert files easily, but I’m losing all the paragraph tabs when converting. Is there a way to keep them? Thanks.

  6. Patrick

    Nathalie, Pages is not so much an ebook converter. It is actually software that lets you create an ebook. The difference is between converting an existing file into an ebook, and creating from scratch an ebook.

    For ebook conversion, you may want to look at Calibre.

  7. Pam

    I’m using this template – and I love it! My only problem is that in the table of contents ALL of my chapter numbers are coming up as “1”. How can I fix this?

    • patrick

      Hi Pam,

      I think if you go into the Layout Inspector and click on the Section tab, you will be able to set the Page Numbers. It sounds like each section in your layout is renumbering from 1 rather than continuing the numbering from previous section.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Pamela

    That did help Patrick – thanks! My book is finally ready and this template saved me time and money. Only one more question: how can I number the pages? I cannot seem to insert page numbers no matter WHAT I try. Thanks!

  9. Phil

    My understanding is that eBooks don’t allow insertion of page numbers because each ebook reader is different in size and people can make the text larger or smaller so page numbers are irrelevant. Some ebook readers will automatically paginate and even change page numbering on-the-fly if people increase or decrease their font size. So don’t worry about it.

  10. Patrick

    @Pamela @Phil
    Phil is absolutely right as far as the EPUB format goes. Obviously, if you created a PDF ebook, you have more control and can add your own page numbers.

  11. Neil Makar

    Very good, this helped me a lot. I ran into an interesting issue, however. I initially had page breaks at the end of each chapter, and I had set the chapter lines (Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc.) as Chapter Number styles. The eBook came out as one chapter. So I replaced the page breaks with Section breaks (there is no “Chapter Break”) and now I have chapters, but the Table of Contents shows Section 1, Section 2, etc., instead of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. How can I make the TOC read “Chapter” instead of “Section”?

  12. Brian

    Patrick, I’ve laid out my eBook in Pages starting from a fresh doc instead of using the Apple template. I’ve selected the Paragraph Styles I would like to show in the T of C. How do I get the actual T of C to show up in the doc?

    • patrick

      Brian, the TOC is generated by the ebook reader based on the pagination of the reader. I’ve seen EPUB books where TOCs were inserted with formatting but the page numbers were absent–so it was basically a listing of chapter names.

  13. Brett

    Hi Patrick,
    I’ve finished my book using your download, but even after reducing my file size, it’s too big to download to my website, email, whatever…

    Any suggestions?

    • Patrick

      Hey Brett,

      How big is it? Do you have lots of images/photos? I’m guessing that you must have some large images/photos imbedded. If so, you’ll need to optimize those images before embedding them into your ebook. I’ve found Adobe Fireworks to be a great tool for sizing and optimizing images before placing them into ebooks.

      Video and audio files can also add greatly to file sizes. However, video and audio optimization is the subject for a whole posting in itself.

      Please share your details here so other folks can learn too. 🙂


  14. Tannis

    Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for this great resource! I am creating an eBook for the first time and this has been invaluable! I am trying to insert images and have the caption remain tied to the bottom of the image, is there a trick for this? If I insert the image on the line with the caption it doesn’t work so do I insert it in space between the previous text and before the caption? How do I ensure the caption doesn’t fall to the next page without the image coming with it? I hope this makes sense! Also do you know the optimum size for images?
    Thank you!!

    • Alfred Beschle

      Hi Tannis, unfortunately I can’t answer your question – moreover, I’m facing the same problem and would just like to know if you’ve got an answer and proposals for a solution. As your request is from March 11, (my birthday, by the way 😉 I’m hopeful you might have received hints and help.
      Looking forward for an answer. Anybodies response is welcome!

      • Patrick

        Tannis & Alfred,
        The best way I know to do this is to create a separate text box, write the caption, and then place in under the image. Make sure the text box in inline, so it moves with the image.

  15. Tom Jackson

    Hi Patrick, or whoever else may be of assistance, and please pardon my ignorance, I’m currently using a version of the 2009 Pages program, however it doesn’t have the option of EPUB in the share, then export selection. I now realize that this option is part of an upgraded version of pages. However when I check for upgrades, my system tells me I am fully updated. Therefore what exactly do I need to do to get this EPUB option upgrade into my Pages program?

    My mac is currently running OS X 10.5.8. Also because I am new to this whole ebook business, what are the options for safe guarding my works so that others can’t just simply copy the files and send them to their friends, or print out multiple copies at will etc. I thought about going the way of an ebook a few years ago but I was advised never to do so for this reason. Have things changed in this regard now?

    Also in regard to creating an ebook, as an alternative to EPUB, going the way of a PDF format, what can be done about safe guarding files in that format as well. Once again I’m sorry for my ignorance about all of this, but I’m coming from the old school of hard copy book printing and my stuff has always sold well.

    Now I’m trying to get it to others outside my country who are now requesting for copies and due to high freight charges I’m now realize that the best way to achieve this could be to create an ebook version.

    So being an absolute beginner in this area I would appreciate any guidance anyone may have. So my main concern is not selling the books, but the worry of making the books easy to be copied and plagiarized. Please advise. Many thanks cheers Tom.

    • Patrick

      Hey Tom,
      My version of Pages ’09 is 4.1. You need to have OS X version 10.6.6 or higher to run it. I suspect that’s why you don’t see the EPUB option nor an option to update.

      In terms of DRM (Digital Rights Management), Pages doesn’t give you that type of control for EPUB. However, you can output to a PDF version and lock the PDF with a password. Unfortunately, one simply needs to send the file along with the password to defeat this. The PDF option does allow you to prevent copy and pasting also.

      I’m not an expert in this area, so I suggest you Google EPUB and DRM and do a little research.

      I’ve published my ebook guide with no DRM. Since my book has my references to my websites and helps establish me as an expert in WordPress website building, I figure the free copies that are made by others is just marketing.

      I realize that not everyone feels this way, but that’s I choose to not let it bother me.

      Good luck with your books!

  16. Tom Jackson

    Thanks Patrick:
    Before I read your reply, which was just now actually, through doing some of own additional research, I soon realized that I needed to upgrade to Snow Leopard. So I did this over the weekend, then looked for the up grades after that and there were plenty. In fact after downloading and installing the initial upgrades, I had to click the software up date 2 more times. I now have the updated version of Pages with E-Pub. So all is good.

    Originally all the files for my book, which is a book on drumming, were saved as PDF files. This was because I used Pages for all the headings and wording (written explanations etc.) and imported all the actual music notation from a music creating program called Sibelius. Therefore in actual fact each page of the 137 page book are separately numbered PDF files.

    I asked one of my potential buyers what device he would be using (I-Pad etc.) and he said none of them. He only has a PC. This got me thinking that due to the fact that probably most music teachers (my book is aimed for the drum teacher in particular. At least they have been the ones ordering the book for all of their students up until now) wouldn’t expect all of their students to buy, or have, I-pads etc.. With this in mind it seems to me that maybe I’d be best putting it out in PDF format for now.

    Obviously I’ll need to do more research now, but basically speaking if I was to go the way of a PDF format, this would be much easier for me, mainly because it’s virtually ready to go if I went that way (the book also includes an audio CD which would be included). Also I believe going that way would make it more accessible to anyone who has a PC, lap top, or mac book etc. What are your thoughts on this? And if I did go that way would this mean those who would be using an E-book reader of some description, wouldn’t be interested in a PDF version?

    So I’ll need to look into the DRM protection concept for sure, but I’ve heard that many simply don’t like it because it’s troublesome for the consumer. My biggest worry though is that I currently have an excellent and steady flow of sales for the hard copies of the book in Auz., where I have good distributor handling everything and obviously I don’t want to jeopardize that business. But because I’ve been getting a lot of interest outside of Auz of late, as mentioned previously, it seems the best and easiest way to go, is to go the way of an E-book version, due to the high freight costs in particular.

    So any additional advice you may have on the subject of a PDF format would be most appreciated and I thank you for your time once again. Keep up the good work, many thanks, cheers Tom.

    • Patrick

      Hi Tom,

      I think PDF is probably your best option for now.

      I distribute my PDF ebook through, which I really like. They’re relatively inexpensive, reliable, and they offer something called “PDF-Stamping” which discourages copying of PDF documents by automatically stamping the buyer’s name, email, and transaction number in the top-left of every page. It doesn’t absolutely prevent copying, but it does discourage it.

      There may be other online distributors that do this also, so check around.


  17. Tom Jackson

    Thanks for that info Patrick, you’ve been a great help. I will definitely check out the link and as you say even though it’s not a total full proof method it’s certainly an excellent deterrent. Thanks again. Take care cheers Tom.

  18. Kelly

    Patrick, I recently upgraded to ipage9.. and hoped the problem would be solved. I find that ebook saving it in DOC, in the TOC, even when I don’t have it clicked with the page #’s they turn up. -I save the same text in my own PDF, it shows they are removed — is this the problem with ipages, or just something you can’t use on SMASHWORDS with a DOC EXPORT from ipages? and should I use the program you suggested above CALIBRA ? DOES it formate correctly your own personal ebooks from which formate, DOC, OR PDF THANKS,

  19. Corinne

    Hi, I have created a photography book and I would like now to edit it as an ebook for sale. I can’t get a clear idea which format is the best for photos ebook and which platform I could sell it through. If someone can help me out I would really appreciate! Thank you very much.

  20. Don fr0m Frisco, TX

    I haven’t yet purchased the Pages, version 4.1 but I am considering it.
    If I were to download the template, then copy and paste a Pages document into the template, would the copied text be in .epub or would I simply have a pages document in the template?
    I look forward to your prompt response.

    • Patrick

      Pages has the ability to export to PDF or EPUB format. But all work and changes are done to the Pages document. So, if you were to put your content into the template, it would be a Pages document. But you would be able to export to EPUB format.

      The template simply formats the Pages document to create a better EPUB export.

  21. Charlot

    Do you know anything about using multiple fonts in Pages and then having them actually appear in the ePub?

  22. Tan

    Hi, can anyone tell me if creating eBooks this way makes them compatible with Kindle and other eBook readers?


    • Julia

      @Tan As far as I know, Kindle only recognizes MOBI files, which means you would have to convert your EPUB first.

  23. Michelle

    Where do I get the “Pages” application from? Can i open this program on any other Apple application?

  24. Neil

    Thanks for this simple & informative article, much appreciated!
    Q : Is there any way to edit the pages in the Pages document to match the Ebook finished pages? Using the template you suggest and leaving the font sizes as original,
    one full page in the finished Ebook is approximately a third of a page in Pages – is it possible to adjust the Pages page to have the right margins so you know where the Ebook (finished) page will finish? Hmm..well I’m not sure if I made sense and used the right terminology…..but thanks again, very helpful article(s)

    • patrick

      Sorry for a very late reply. I’ve been on hiatus.

      The reason you can’t edit an ebook (.EPUB format) to be exactly the same for everyone is because ebook readers allow for different fonts and font sizes. This will necessarily change pagination and positions of text.

      However, if you create a PDF ebook, you have full control over the look and position.

  25. Mary Ellen

    I am very very new to all of this and ask the silly question – can an ebook be published into a hard copy? I’m trying to find a relatively tear-free method of producing an illustrated (my own, scanned) book (not coffee-table) and have downloaded Id trial but am struggling as no experience in this. Pages might be easier but my issue is hard copy vs. just ebook. Thanks . .

    • patrick

      The simple answer is “yes”.

      However, you wouldn’t want to simply print from the .EPUB format. Instead, you’d print from whatever software you used to create the ebook. In this case, it would be from Pages.

      If you create an ebook in the PDF format, then you can print directly from the ebook.

  26. justn1185

    Hey, great posts but I still didn’t find the question to my problem.

    I made an ePub book and found an error in my formatting. But when I try to open it again it won’t let me open the .epub format to re-edit my book. HELP!

  27. Paul

    Quick question:

    Why should images be inserted inline rather than floating?

    In my experience, floating images allow you to keep copy formatting the same while doing the same for the images. Inline images always seemed to get shoved out of position when a line of copy is added.



    • Peter


      The images have to be inline to flow with the text.

      ePubs can be read on different size screens, with varying fonts, sizes, spacing etc so everything moves. A floating image will simply get lost and separated from the text it relates to. It may even hang off the page or vanish if the page is too small.

      An inline image acts like a character in the text and goes where the surrounding text goes.


  28. Pat B

    This is excellent and very helpful. But I’d love some more info on creating a table of contents. I understand I apply a style to the chapter names, and then what exactly. Does Pages automatically create and insert ToC? Are the chapters jumped to when a reader clicks on the name in an ere after? If one converts to mobi, is the ToC lost or does it still work on Kindle? Sorry for all the questions. I’ve been trying to do this with Word, to great frustration. Hopefully Pages will work better and be more logical. Thanks.

    • patrick

      Hey Pat, I suggest that you look at a free software called Calibre for creating Kindle (MOBI) formatted ebooks.

  29. Pat B

    Apologies: ‘ere after’ should read ‘e-reader’!

  30. Pat B

    Thanks, Patrick, for the pointer. I’ll look at again – though as a typesetter of many years experience I’m finding the ebook authoring options all very complicated and time-consuming. So it goes. Cheers

  31. Steve Farrell

    Hey Pat — Just read the other comments and have a quick quesiton. Can I import the epub for pages application into itunes for use with my ipad version of Pages? If so, how.

  32. Laurie

    I found this article today and it is most helpful. I only recently switched to a Mac from a PC, so I’m still trying to figure things out. Following along with this article, and the linked Apple Support article, I came to find out the ‘Import Styles’ was removed from Pages 5. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked in the Apple Support Communities. Here is the solution, in case anyone else is looking for this information:


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