28 Using the Visual and Text Editors in Pressbooks

Pressbooks has two ways to edit your book: the VISUAL editor, where you don’t need to know any code at all; and the TEXT editor, where you can see (and edit) the HTML code that will create your books. While the VISUAL editor is great for simple books, if your book is a bit more complex, or if things look funny in output, the TEXT editor will let you see what is really going on behind the scenes. In this article, you will learn:

  • What the VISUAL and TEXT editors in Pressbooks do.
  • How to use the visual and text editors.

Pressbooks’ VISUAL and TEXT Editors

Ebooks are essentially websites, which means their formatting is accomplished with code–HTML and CSS primarily. You don’t have to see that code when you use Pressbooks, but you can. Pressbooks lets you use a VISUAL editor which automatically inserts the corresponding codes. Those who know HTML formatting may want to see or edit the code–that’s where Pressbooks’ TEXT editor comes in. As you’re editing a post, you can switch between the VISUAL and TEXT editors by clicking on “visual” or “text” in the top right corner. It’s always good practice to save your work before you switch.

Visual Editor Options

Pressbooks’ VISUAL editor has many options for formatting your manuscript. Click on the Toolbar Toggle to view all the formatting options available in the Visual editor.

Visual Editor Screenshot
Visual Editor Toolbar

Here is a list of some of the things you can do with the VISUAL editor:

  • The bold, italic, strikethrough, underline, text color and alignment commands work just as you’d expect from a word processor.
  • You can also create blockquotes or insert hyperlinks. (Note: If you’re planning to output to print too, you may want to write out the real URLs as the text that is hyperlinked.)
  • Use the styles and formats menus to highlight subheads or finesse paragraph indents, add textboxes and for adjusting tracking.
  • Need to insert a special footnote? You can do that. You can even convert your footnotes from a Word document.
  • In both the visual and text editors, you can use the “x” button at the top right for a distraction-free writing screen.
  • Finally, you can always undo, redo or clear formatting entirely.

After you’ve saved, check your formatting by clicking on View Post to see your chapter or part. If anything looks odd, you can see and adjust the code around it by going into the text editor.


TEXT Editor Uses and Options

There are three main uses of the text editor:

  1. To investigate the underlying code might be causing a problem with your formatting.
  2. For people who want to code their formatting manually as they write.
  3. To insert some special formatting that must be hand-coded–tabular data, for instance.
Text editor menu
Code editor menu options

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the text editor to see, adjust and add to your book’s underlying code.


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Pressbooks User Guide by Book Oven Inc. (PressBooks.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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