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Tips for Styling Imported Text in iBooks Author

If you're importing Microsoft Word documents into your iBooks Author text, you may lose all your nice formatting. Typically, when you do your text editing in a program such as Word or Pages, you format the text in that program, applying styles to various types of paragraphs and text selections, as well as using local formatting attributes, such as boldface and superscripts. Print-oriented applications such as InDesign and QuarkXPress note the styles used in the source files and then apply the same-named styles in their documents, thus applying their styles to the imported text. It’s a very handy way to ensure consistent, correct formatting.

iBooks Author doesn’t handle styles so nicely for imported files. (This is also an issue in Apple Pages, on which iBooks Author’s text capabilities are based.) If you’ve defined styles in iBooks Author and import a Word or Pages file that uses styles with the same names, iBooks Author doesn’t apply its versions of those styles to the imported text. Instead, it preserves the styles of the source files.

That means you have to update the imported text in iBooks Author manually, which can take a lot of work, depending on how your text is styled. And each time you import a document (such as for each chapter in your book), you have the same issue of needing to fix that text’s styles.

You could import your document without retaining its style information, but that can cause even more work: All text is given the style applied to your placeholder mainbar text, so you then have to identify all text that should have special styles applied, such as headlines, and manually reapply them. You do get a slight clue about what text might have these exceptions: The text size and local formatting (boldface, italics, small caps, and so on) of the imported text is preserved, even though its font and style names aren’t, so you can look for such visual variances to figure out the text to which you want to apply styles.

If you copy and paste text from another program — even if you use the option to retain formatting (choose Edit→Paste and Retain Style or press Option+Shift+Command+V) — all your text has the paragraph style Free Form applied to it, with the retained formatting converted to local formatting that you’ll want to override with paragraph and character styles in iBooks Author. Any RTF text dragged into iBooks Author also has its text tagged as Free Form and all its styles converted to local formatting. (Text-only files have no formatting that needs to be converted.)

Because iBooks Author isn’t good at managing styles during importing, the path to the least amount of rework is to import all your chapter files in Word or Pages format before working on applying the correct styles. That way, you do the style fix-it work just once.

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