Pressbooks to Publish Open (Text)Books


1. Getting Started
2. What is Pressbooks?
3. Examples of Academic Textbooks created with PB
4. Login
5. Pressbooks Editor and Special Formatting
6. Collaborating with Other Authors
7. Evaluating an Open Textbook
8. Request ABOER to Accept your Resource in the Public Textbook Catalogues

The following content is adapted from BCcampus OpenEd Resources. (n.d.). Create Open Textbooka- Getting Started. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from

1. Getting Started

Creating an open textbook is easy. Creating something that others will use is challenging. Creating a resource that provides lasting value is an accomplishment.

How do you create an open textbook?
Creating an open textbook requires more than writing. The commitment required to create an open textbook is substantial, and by following the best practices outlined in the resources we’ve made available, you can help inspire knowledge around the world.

Important things to know

  1. The more effort you put in, the better the final product.
  2. Creating a high-quality open textbook requires substantial research.
  3. Finding content (videos, graphs, images, etc.) with open rights is challenging.
  4. Copy editing and rewriting, incorporating peer feedback, and final proofreading takes time that should be factored in from the beginning.

Why create an open textbook?

  • You have specific insight into your field of study that isn’t being communicated effectively through existing materials.
  • The current resources are out of date or don’t explore your topic adequately.
  • You want to provide future students with an effective learning resource thatyou can update as necessary.
  • You’d like a vehicle to help you show influence in your field and improve your credibility.

Resources to create an open textbook
To help you create a usable, effective, and accessible open textbook, BCcampus created a Self-Publishing Guide filled with best practices.

Avoiding copyright infringement
Creative works published under an open licence retain specific rights, with the permissions outlined by the type of licence used. A common misconception with open is that it’s free to use, wherever, whenever, and however you want. While in some cases this is true, especially for resources found in the public domain, it is not always true for openly licensed products. To use the work someone else has created, it’s essential that you strictly abide by the terms outlined in the open licence, or risk legal ramifications.
For more information, see Open Licences and Creative Commons for Authors.

If you have questions or need guidance with open licensing and/or copyright, please contact the U of L copyright Officer, Rumi Graham.

2. What is Pressbooks?

Pressbooks is an open source content management system designed for creating books. It is based on WordPress, and can export content in many formats for ebooks, webbooks or print.

U of L educators can request an educational version through the participation in the ABOER Publishing Initiative Open Education Alberta. You can also create a private account directly with the Pressbooks company in Montreal.

Once a book is published, viewers have easy and free access to the digital version, which can also be enabled to allow for downloads and print of copies in a range of different formats.

Most Pressbooks are published under an open license; thus permitting reuse and adaption. An openly licensed book can easily be cloned and then adapted as needed.

One possible use for teaching is represented through this FitFOL2020 teaching resource, which has been designed to combine the delivery of information with the embedding of teaching/ learning activities. That way, our Pressbooks works much like a website and a textbook together. Unlike a traditional textbook, however, Pressbooks allows for the seamless integration of multimedia rich and interactive elements, such as for instance quizzes, video, pictures, presentations, etc.

For access to detailed manuals and video tutorials relating to editing Pressbooks, click on the following resources below:

  1. Pressbooks User Guide . This is a text-book format manual taking you through all the functions that come with the publishing software.
  2. BCcampus Pressbooks Resources This website compiles a manual, video tutorials (see 3) and frequently asked questions.
  3. BCcampus Video Tutorials. This is a playlist on youtube with short video tutorials taking you through some of the basics of using Pressbooks, such as Book set up and content, editing, embedding content, using LaTex, exporting various file formats, etc.
    Suggested starting point:
  4. Ryerson Open Textbook Guide 
    This manual provides some background information to OER and open textbooks for introductory users. There is a specific chapter on adapting open content
    Overall, it’s a good project-focused approach to textbook creation opposed to Pressbooks specific.

3. Examples of Academic Textbooks created with PB

Since more institutions support the open publishing of teaching materials, increasingly more academics work to adapt or create resources of their own or in collaboration with content experts in their fields using Pressbooks.

Open Textbook Collections like the BCcampus compile now hundreds of course texts across all disciplines. If you’d like to browse for examples created with Pressbooks, you can start here:

The eCAMPUS Ontario Open Library can be accessed here:

The Alberta OER Pressbook Publishing Initiative follows the same goal to grant Higher Education professional from across the province access to share their publications within and beyond Alberta.

4. Login Procedure

If you are teaching at the U of L, you can request your own Pressbooks hosted on a UofA server run by the Open Education Alberta Initiative.

Step 1: Request your own Pressbooks with Alberta OER using this input form.

Step 2: Sign up on the AB OER Pressbooks instance. (first time users)

Step 3: Log into your book.

5. Pressbooks Editor

The Pressbooks editor is based on wordpress. It is a WYSIWYG editor allowing you to create individual layouts for your text and media.You can manage the organization of the book through the administration functions:

The picture below shows you how to access the administration.

The pictures below shows you the editor for the book administration.

The picture below shows you how to access the editor for specific pages

The picture below shows you the editing window for a page with all it functions

The picture below shows you the left and centre of the editing window with its specific function
The left side controls all elements on the book level while the centre functions are referring to a specific chapter (page) within the book.

The picture below shows you the right side of the page editor, where you can save all changes and control the visibility

6. Collaborating with other authors

One feature in Pressbooks is the ability to work with collaborators, such as editors, co-authors and publishers.

Read on to learn about:

User Roles in Pressbooks

Sharing with a Group of Readers

7. Evaluating an Open Textbook

7.1 What are the Qualities of a Textbook?

Include Pedagogical Aids:

  • Chapter objectives
  • Chapter learning outcomes
  • Chapter outline
  • Chapter summary or review
  • Checklists
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Bold and italicized text
  • Table of contents
  • Table of figures
  • Index
  • Focus questions and practice questions
  • Case studies, vignettes and examples of best practices
  • Glossary and key terms
  • Demonstrations and simulations
  • Maps and timelines
  • Illustrations, including photos, charts, diagrams and figures
  • Multimedia
  • Pronunciation guide

7.2 Textbook Structure

7.3 Open Textbook Review Criteria

Increasingly, open textbook projects are placing a greater emphasis on having peer reviewed materials in their collection to help faculty with adoption and address concerns some have about the quality of open textbooks. A number of open textbook projects have created criteria for evaluating and reviewing open textbooks.

BCcampus open textbook review criteria [website]
CCCOER review criteria

8. Submit your Resource to an Open Textbook Repository

After a through review process involving collaborator authors and other chosen parties, you may request for your resource to appear in the public collection of open textbook repositories like the Open Education Alberta textbook collection.

You can abide by the BCcampus Open Textbook Selection Process to make sure your textbook meets the current expectations for quality, relevancy, and ability to meet the needs of post-secondary faculty, students, and institutions, particularly within A.B. and Canada.


BCcampus OpenEd Resources. (n.d.). Using Pressbooks. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from

BCcampus OpenEd. (n.d.). Learning about, and experiencing, open educational practices. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from

BCcampus Open Ed. (2015). P2PU | Adopting Open Textbooks |

Elder, A. (2019). The OER Starter Kit. Iowa State University Digital Press.

The open book creation platform. (n.d.). Pressbooks. Retrieved July 15, 2020, from

Pressbooks. (2013). Pressbooks User Guide.

Ryerson University. (2017). Ryerson Open Textbook Authoring Guide. Ryerson University.

U of L Teaching Centre., Meadows, J., Old, B., Reid, E., Thomas, K., & Weilandt, J. (2020). Fit for Online Learning.





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Fit for Online Learning Copyright © 2020 by U of L Teaching Centre: Jördis Weilandt, Erin Reid, Kristi Thomas, Brandy Old, and Jeff Meadows is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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