Adding text to iBooks Author and dealing with styles

When you open up a new project in iBooks Author you are not given the opportunity to open up a project without having a template. What this does is to force you to use styles. It may seem that Apple is being the heavy-handed Big Brother that is forcing you to work in a particular way, but the use of styles within a book project is a very good way to work. You will be dealing with large amounts of text and it would look very unprofessional if you had a multitude of fonts scattered around your book, especially if at times they were doing the same job. You really don’t want to have a chapter title in one place using the Baskerville font and in another place in the same book using Helvetica. The same goes for the fonts you use for the body text and any headers, section titles or any other text elements within your book.

Working out the best way to bring your into text into iBooks Author

If you are writing your text directly into the iBooks Author application, which is perfectly possible and okay to do, you’re not going to run into the some of the problems that you might run into, if you are bringing in text created in other applications. You will simply place your cursor onto the placeholder text, start typing and it will be in the correct style for that iBooks Author template you have chosen. That will be the case whether it is body text or if it is a title for a chapter. Everything will look as it should do.

Bringing it in from Byword

Byword text editor
If you are going to bring in text from another external application such as Byword (an excellent markdown editor ) then the way to go about it, is to go to the preview view of your writing, select all of the text and copy it to the clipboard. Then you will go into the iBooks Author application put your cursor into the text box where you plan to paste it. The placeholder text will select all of itself as you do this and when you press command V it will be replaced by whatever you have just put onto the clipboard. Now when you have done this, you will wonder why it is that you can’t see any of the headings that you created in Byword. All of the text will be in your project as body text. Don’t worry we can sort this out.

Using Paste and Retain Style

Now you have a choice of how to deal with that text. One possibility is to go back and to re-paste the text in, but using the command in the edit menu which is Paste and Retain Styles. If you do this, you will again be disappointed, because the styles that come in are styles from Byword rather than being the styles that are in the template you are trying to use. You will have some work to do to change a paragraph to the style that is correct for the template. To be honest, this is a bit of a pain in the neck, especially if you’re importing in a large amount of text. All of the text pasted will be styled, but in the FreeForm style in iBooks Author.

Playing Spot the Style

The other choice that is possible, would be to leave the text that was pasted in first, as body text style and once again go through each of the paragraphs to apply the correct style to each of them. The problem that I find with this way of doing it, is that visually it is probably a little bit more difficult to spot which paragraphs should have which style. This is especially the case if in Byword you have assigned different levels of header to your title paragraphs. You won’t find this in the iBooks Author manual.

How to use iBooks Author

Deciding on the best workflow for importing text

Now you have seen what the problem is, what is the best workaround to get your text to fit in with your chosen template? Personally, I have found that if it is a small amount of text then it is probably easier just to use the ordinary Cmd-V paste and then to apply the correct styles to the header paragraphs.

If I am posting in a large amount of text with multiple levels of header, then it is best to paste and keep style, even though those styles are incorrect for the template. You will be able to easier see which styles are which, when it is time for you to get the text to conform to the template.

Tools within iBooks Author to help

Whichever way you to decide to paste in your text, the best way to quickly make use of the template styles, is to use the shortcut keys. have a look at the Wizardgold YouTube channel to see the iBook Author review.

Best method when using standard pasting of clipboard contents

  • First of all put your cursor within a paragraph that is the body text.
  • Open up the Styles sliding drawer.
  • Look for the disclosure triangle to the right-hand side of the style, click on it, scroll down to the set hotkey and follow it through for setting a hotkey for one of your function keys.
  • Do the same for each of your header levels
  • Using your mouse or trackpad put your cursor in each paragraph that you wish to change and use the hotkey to set it to the correct style.

Best method when pasting in your styles with the text

  • All of your text will have come in as free-form and the first thing to do is to go through each of the header levels and change them to match the style in the template. (Use Hot Keys for speed)
  • After that, of the imported text, all that will be left as free-form will be the text that you want to have as body text. Go to the styles drawer and to the right of the free-form style, hit the disclosure triangle and choose the option to select all instances of that free-form style.
  • You can then tap on the body text style in the styles drawer and all of that free-form text selected will be converted and your job is done.