How to Create a Camera-ready PDF


Frank Sergeant



copyright © 2013,2014 Frank Sergeant

all rights reserved


Mobi and EPUB ebooks, and PDF for printed book, formatted by Nepo Press (


The printed and PDF versions of this book are set in the Libertine font ( licensed under the Open Font License (

Table of Contents


The main use of the Nepo Press web-based formatting service is to produce Mobi and EPUB eBooks for Kindle, NOOK, iPad, etc.

However, once your eBook is finished, or even before, you might want to create a PDF version.

A PDF is handy for

Once you can produce a clean eBook, producing a PDF is as simple as clicking the PDF button on your book account page.

This is not just a PDF. It is a camera-ready PDF, suitable for submitting to CreateSpace so you can make printed books in addition to eBooks. Of course, cameras aren’t used anymore; it’s all digital.

The goal of this quick-start guide is to provide the key additional information you need to turn your eBook manuscript into a camera-ready PDF, once you are already producing clean eBooks.

If you are not already using the formatting service, don’t start here. Instead, start by producing Mobi and EPUB eBooks. See for further information.

Once you are able to turn your manuscript into a Mobi or EPUB eBook, then you are ready for the extra details that apply to creating a PDF.

Generate Mobi and/or EPUB files

First, log into your book account at and make sure you can create a Mobi file and/or an EPUB file.

To create a Mobi file, click on the Mobi button. When it has finished processing, click on the mobireport.txt file to see if there are any errors or warnings to tend to.

To create an EPUB file, click on the EPUB button. When it has finished processing, click on the epubreport.txt file to see if there are any errors or warnings to tend to.

Then, view the results. The best way is to download the EPUB or Mobi file to your eReader or eReader app and look at it there. The easy way is to click on the HTML version and view it in your web browser.

Once you have a clean manuscript that works for Mobi and/or EPUB files, you are ready for the next step.

The Minimum

Once you can create a mobi file or an EPUB file without errors, the minimum you need to do to create a PDF file is simply to click on the PDF button on your book account page.

This produces a PDF file that you can download or view in your web browser.

It may be “camera ready” at this point but it is not quite ready to publish. You will need to do a little more than the minimum, as described in the next chapters.

Front Matter Versus Main Matter

Our default styling is to use no page numbers for the front matter and Arabic numerals for the main matter.

To achieve this, you must indicate where the front matter ends and the main matter begins. Do this by adding a <mainmatter> tag at the appropriate place. A common place is after the various front matter (table of contents, acknowledgments, preface, dedication, whatever) and before the introduction or first chapter.

For example, here is where I placed it for this guide:



* Introduction

The main use of the Nepo Press
web-based formatting service is
to ...


Note that pages prior to the introduction have no page numbers and the later pages use Arabic numerals.


This web service is not quite “one size fits all”, but neither is it infinitely customizable. You can change certain things but not everything. You might think of it as “semi custom”.

Not all of the formatting available to the eBooks will carry forward to the PDF. Aspects that don’t apply or that aren’t available are silently ignored, thus you do not need to remove any tags—the same manuscript will work for both the eBooks and the printed book.

Our goal is to produce a PDF that is suitable for publishing a typical novel. If your book is not a typical novel (or even if it is), then you can override a few choices, such as page size (and thus book size) and font size. If that isn’t enough, then the web-based formatting might not be suitable for your printed book. Instead, your manuscript may need custom formatting, which we also offer.

Running Headings

The running headings are produced automatically at the top of the pages.

The odd-numbered pages (the right hand or recto pages) show the title of the book at the top. This cannot be changed. So, very long titles may cause a problem. We may arbitrarily chop off words to make the title fit.

The even-numbered pages (the left hand or verso pages) show an uppercase version of the chapter title at the top. You do have some control here. If you create a chapter title like this:

* Lost in Dixie



* "Lost in Dixie"


that is, with a single item, then the body of the chapter and the entry in the table of contents (TOC) will both say Lost in Dixie, and the left-hand running heading will say LOST IN DIXIE.

If you override the TOC entry by supplying two items (note the two pairs of double quotation marks), like this:

* "Lost in Dixie" "Lost"


then the body of the chapter will say Lost in Dixie, the TOC entry will say Lost, and the even-page running heading will say LOST.

But, you have even more control. You can specify a third item (using three pairs of double quotation marks). Then, the first item will be used for the body of the chapter, the second item will be used for the TOC entry, and the third item will be used for the even-page running heading. For example:

* "Lost in Dixie" "Lost" "Lost"


Then the third item (Lost) will be used for the left-hand running heading, rather than the uppercase version (LOST).

If you don’t want the chapter title to appear in the running heading at all, provide an empty third item, such as one of the following:

* "Lost in Dixie" "Lost" ""


* "Lost in Dixie" "" ""


Page and Book Size

The PDF currently defaults to a size of 5.25 inches wide by 8 inches tall with a 0.76 inch inner margin and a 0.5 inch outer margin, and a 0.8 inch top margin and a 0.8 inch bottom margin. Thus, the PDF will be generated as if you had included these tags in the manuscript:

<width>   5.25
<height>  8
<inner>   0.76
<outer>   0.5
<top>     0.8
<bottom>  0.8


If you wish to override the defaults, just add one or more of those tags to your manuscript and change the value (in inches) to whatever you prefer. They can go anywhere in your manuscript, but the usual and best place to put them is near the beginning. For example, if you want a 6 inch by 9 inch book with wider margins, you could use these tags:

<width>   6
<height>  9
<inner>   1.2
<outer>   1


Font and Font Size

The PDF currently defaults to using 12-point Libertine (a replacement for Times Roman-like fonts). You have a choice of 10-point, 11-point, or 12-point. Here is how to specify the current defaults. If you leave these out of the manuscript, the defaults will be used, but you might want to use the tags to make the font and size choices clear:

<pdffont>  libertine
<fontsize> 12


Note, the <pdffont> tag is not the same as the <font> tag that can be used for Mobi and EPUB files. When creating Mobi and EPUB files, <pdffont> and <fontsize> tags are ignored. When creating a PDF file, the <font> tag is ignored. Thus, a single manuscript can serve for both eBooks and printed books.

To override the font size, use the <fontsize> tag, e.g.,

<fontsize> 11


Libertine is licensed under the Open Font License and an acknowledgment in your book is appropriate. See the copyright page of this book for an example.

We may offer more font choices in the future.

Proof versus Final

The final PDF is the one suitable for printing as a book. For example, this is the file you would submit CreateSpace or other printer to produce printed books. It is set to print on 5.25x8 inch paper (or whatever trim size you select for your book with the <width> and <height> tags).

If you wish to print a copy on your home or office printer, it might not be convenient to use 5.25x8 inch paper. That’s why we also provide a proof PDF.

The proof PDF is similar to the final PDF, except it is designed to be printed on 8.5x11 inch paper (standard letter-size paper in the United States). If this is an inconvenient size for our foreign friends, please let us know and we might add some additional options, such as A4.

The proof PDF is easy to print on letter-size paper. The book page images are the same size in either case (such as 5.25x8), but with the proof PDF they are printed in a visible frame centered within the 8.5x11 sheet of paper.

Just to the right of the PDF button are two small buttons labeled final and proof. Select the one you want (by default, final is selected) before clicking on the PDF button.

Even Versus Odd Pages

All level one chapters will begin on an odd-page (a right-hand page). This is generally what you want for a printed book. (It makes no difference in eBooks, viewing a single page at a time.)

However, there may be certain pages that you want to print on the next page regardless of whether it is odd or even. To force this to happen, use a completely empty chapter title. The common case is the copyright page. You probably want the title page to appear on an odd page with the copyright page immediately following.

To achieve this, give the copyright page a completely empty chapter heading like this:



copyright 2013 Frank Sergeant

all rights reserved


The key is the level-one heading (the single asterisk on a line by itself). This starts a new page, just like a chapter. However, because it is a completely blank heading, it starts on the very next available page whether odd or even. (The level three heading is not necessary, but it provides a little extra vertical spacing and turns off the drop caps so copyright won’t have a large initial “C”.)

The copyright page near the beginning of this book shows how it would look.

(Level two chapters also start on the next available page, rather than skipping to the next odd page.)

TOC Levels

By default, the first two heading levels will appear in the table of contents. You can change this with the <toclevels> tag. For example, if you want the first three levels to appear in the TOC, you could say:

<toclevels> 3


Lines That Are Too Long

Sometimes manual intervention is necessary to get lines to break where you want them to.

One common situation is a line containing a long url. There may not be a perfect place to break it. So, when you proofread your PDF, you will see a line extending into the margin. Somebody has to decide where to break that line, and that somebody is you.

The way you mark such a break is to use the <brk> tag. Note that this is similar to the <break> tag you are probably familiar with that forces a line break in Mobi and EPUB files.

These two tags (<brk> and <break>) are not the same tag. The <break> tag works the same for Mobi, EPUB, and PDF files.

The <brk> tag is ignored when making Mobi and EPUB files. For PDF files, it gives the magic clue needed by the formatting program.

For example, your manuscript might look like this:

The best place to learn
about eBook formatting is
It is the place to go for all
your eBook needs.


First note two things:

Let’s say that when you view the PDF of the above, a line starts with “formatting is” and continues into the margin by the time it finishes displaying the url. Something has to give. Where do you want to have the line break? You could add some words prior to the url and perhaps the lines would break better. Or, you could decide to break it after .net and before /formatting. You would simply add the <brk> tag like this:

The best place to learn
about eBook formatting is<brk>/formatting.
It is the place to go for all
your eBook needs.


It is generally best to do this as one of the last steps in preparing your book for publication. If you edit your book further, after adding <brk> tags, you might need to adjust or remove them or add new ones in different places.

Line Breaks and Hyphenation

It may occasionally happen that a word is hyphenated in the wrong place. For example, “CreateSpace” should not be hyphenated like this:



Or, perhaps you would rather a word never be hyphenated, such as someone’s name.



Perhaps “editorial” is being hyphenated as “edit-orial” but you would prefer it to be hyphenated as “editor-ial”.

You can specify your preferred hyphenatation with the <hyphenation> tag. Just give a list like this:

<hyphenation> create-space johnny


Case is ignored, so the hyphenatation rules will apply equally to “CreateSpace” and “createspace”, to “Johnny” and “johnny”, etc. The above line says never hyphenate “johnny” but, if “CreateSpace” needs to hyphenated, break it between “Create” and “Space”, and if “editorial” needs to be hyphenated, break it between “editor” and “ial”.

Put the tag anywhere in your manuscript (near the top of the file is a good place). As usual, be sure a blank line precedes and follows it. Continue across as many lines as needed as long as they are all in the same paragraph, with a space between words.

For most words, the formatting program takes care of hyphenation automatically and correctly. Only words that aren’t hyphenated correctly need to be added to the <hyphenation> tag. (Don’t try to fix hyphenation problems by adding a hyphen directly in the text of the manuscript.)


Here is a quick review of the most important points.

Before trying to create a PDF file, create a Mobi and/or EPUB file. This helps find any problems in your manuscript. Fix any errors or warnings mentioned in the report file (named mobireport.txt or epubreport.txt).

Once you have handled any errors, creating a PDF is as simple as clicking on the PDF button on your book account page.

You can proofread the PDF in an on-screen PDF viewer (view as “Dual, even pages on the left”) or you can print a copy.

When you create the PDF, you can choose either final or proof. The page image is the same. The proof is suitable for printing on letter-size paper, showing each book page in a visible frame. Either is OK for viewing on the screen.

Use final when you are ready to submit the PDF to CreateSpace or other book distributor or printer.

However, just because it produces a PDF file does not mean you are ready to publish. You should consider doing the following:

Happy Publishing!

The End