Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heading-less chapters (2)

When Atlantis saves a document as eBook, it divides it into chapters according to the Heading paragraphs found in that document. Each paragraph formatted as a Heading paragraph in the source document is interpreted as signaling a new chapter in the book.

Now quite often the first Heading paragraph of a source document is preceded by the book title, a cover picture, and at times by some other text. These are not actually part of any chapter of the book. For example, in the following screen capture, first a cover picture, then the book title ("Rembrandt Biography") and the author’s name ("by John Johnson") precede the first heading ("Childhood"):

When you save this document as eBook in Atlantis, any text preceding the "Childhood" heading is normally saved as a separate first chapter of the eBook. Accordingly, Atlantis will automatically include a corresponding item in the eBook Table Of Contents. This extra item is always named by Atlantis as the eBook "Title page":

Clicking this "Title page" item in the Table Of Contents of an eBook always brings the reader to the first page of the eBook.

Until now there was no way to have a different name for that automatic eBook chapter. Atlantis always used "Title page" as an automatic hard-coded name. But you might prefer a different name. Or if you are writing a book in a language other than English, you might need that automatic item in the table of contents to be named according to that other language. This is easily done using the latest beta version of Atlantis Word Processor and its support for heading-less chapters. Through this new feature of the Save as eBook command of Atlantis, you can now easily instruct Atlantis to use a different name for the initial heading-less chapter of your eBook.

Here are step-by-step instructions:

1) In Atlantis, press Ctrl+Home to place the caret at the beginning of the source document, then press Enter to create a new blank paragraph at the beginning of the document.

2) Choose the "Heading 1" style from the "Style" toolbar box of Atlantis to associate the first paragraph in the document with the "Heading 1" style:

3) Type the desired title for the initial chapter of your book within that first paragraph (for example, type "Cover Page"):

4) Select the first paragraph of the document with the keyboard or mouse (the fastest way to select a paragraph is by triple-clicking it):

5) Choose the "Format | Font..." menu command of Atlantis. Then check the "Strikeout" box:

and OK out of the dialog. The first paragraph in the document will display with strikeout:

This is how you can tell Atlantis that the "Cover Page" heading text from the source document should not be included in the eBook text when you save this document as eBook. On the other hand, the eBook Table Of Contents will automatically include a first item with a "Cover Page" caption (actually the text struck out at the beginning of the source document):

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sticking with JPEG

In Atlantis, documents can include both text and pictures. Pictures can be inserted in two ways:

  • You can use the Atlantis "Insert | Picture..." menu command and direct Atlantis to graphic files (GIF, PNG, JPEG, etc) located on your hard drive.
  • You can also first copy a picture onto the Windows clipboard from some other application or from another document open in Atlantis itself, then paste the clipboard picture into the target document.

Now you might be curious as to how Atlantis stores pictures in documents, and rightly so, because it has practical implications.

When you save a document containing pictures in Atlantis, these are stored in the document file in either the PNG or JPEG format. It is very much like embedding PNG or JPEG graphic files directly into the document file. And when you close a document, then reopen it, the graphic format of each picture is retained within the document file as previously saved. If a document contains a picture in the JPEG format, Atlantis sticks with the JPEG format for that picture when you resave the document. Same thing for pictures found in the PNG format.

Even so, in practice Atlantis stores most pictures in documents in the PNG format. Pictures are stored as JPEG only when JPEG was their original format.

Atlantis offers no way to find out if the pictures included in a document are actually PNG or JPEG. This is because in most cases it is irrelevant which of the graphic formats is actually used by Atlantis to store a given picture within a document file.

But it is still possible to say which of the two graphic formats will be used by Atlantis to store a picture within a document:

  • If you paste a picture from the Windows clipboard, most probably it will be stored by Atlantis in the PNG format.
  • If you insert a picture through the "Insert | Picture..." menu command, it will be stored by Atlantis in the JPEG format if the graphic file that you insert is originally of the JPEG format.
  • For graphic files of any other supported format than JPEG that you insert through the "Insert | Picture..." menu command, Atlantis will systematically use the PNG format.

Again, most chances are that an inserted picture will be stored by Atlantis in the PNG format.

But at times you might want to force Atlantis to store a given picture in the JPEG format instead. There is only one way to do this: have this picture in the JPEG format on your hard drive and use the Atlantis "Insert | Picture..." menu command to insert it.

You might ask, why would I want to force Atlantis to store pictures in the JPEG format?

If your picture is a "color-rich" painting or photo, it normally takes much less disk space if stored as JPEG. Converting a JPEG photo to the PNG format, nearly always leads to a much bigger PNG file. So if you have graphic files in the JPEG format on your disk, it is preferable to insert them AS IS through the Atlantis "Insert | Picture..." menu command. Most likely, this will create a more compact document file.

This remark holds for eBooks too. If you save a document as eBook in Atlantis, pictures stored as JPEGs within the source document file will be saved as JPEGs too in the eBook file. This might also significantly reduce the global size of the eBook file.

So if you designed a rich-color cover picture for an eBook in a graphic software, we recommend that you do not copy/paste the picture from the graphic software into an Atlantis document. It is because your cover picture will most probably be inserted into the document in the PNG format.

Instead, save the cover picture to your disk in the JPEG format from your graphic software. Then use the Atlantis "Insert | Picture..." menu command to insert the saved JPEG file into a document in Atlantis. If you then save the document as eBook in Atlantis, the cover picture will be stored within the eBook file as JPEG. Your EPUB file will only be lighter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heading-less chapters

If you are using Atlantis Word Processor to create eBooks, you certainly know that the eBooks created from Atlantis in the EPUB format customarily display with a "standalone" table of contents (or "navigation center") allowing readers to switch between chapters:

Adding items to these tables of contents is extremely easy in Atlantis. All you need to do is to format the chapter headings with the "Heading 1" style in the source document. When it creates a table of contents for an eBook, Atlantis automatically creates links (actually hyperlinks) to all the Heading style paragraphs present in the book.

This is OK for most ordinary purposes, but at times you might want a heading-less chapter from the source document to be included in the eBook table of contents. This might be the case, for example, with the copyright notice. Here is an example:

Click here to download a sample RTF document with the above copyright notice.

If you save this sample document as eBook in the current official version of Atlantis, the copyright notice will be kept in the eBook text, but the eBook table of contents itself won't include any link to the copyright notice. Because this notice is not preceded by a Heading style paragraph in the source document, Atlantis does not treat it as a separate book chapter and does not include it in the eBook TOC (Table Of Contents).

So if you wanted Atlantis to include a link to the copyright notice in the corresponding eBook TOC, you normally would have to turn the copyright notice into a separate chapter, and insert a Heading style paragraph before the notice. The text of that paragraph would automatically appear in the eBook TOC as a link to the copyright notice.

However, most authors will probably find it inappropriate to have big Heading titles heralding simple copyright notices in their eBooks. We have looked into this problem, and the next release of Atlantis Word Processor will offer a convenient and intuitive way to create TOC hyperlinks to heading-less chapters present in eBooks.

Here is how this will be done:

1) Create an ordinary Heading style paragraph right before the target text (in our example, right before the copyright notice). Type any suitable text (the text that you want included as hyperlink in the eBook TOC):

2) Select that heading text:

3) Choose the "Format | Font..." menu command, check the "Strikeout" box, and click OK:

This will apply the "strikeout" formatting to the heading:

Click here if you want to download a modified sample RTF document with the copyright notice preceded by a "struck-out" heading.

This is all you'll need to do! The "Copyright" Heading text (and corresponding hyperlink) will automatically be present in the eBook table of contents, but the Heading itself will not appear on the related eBook page:

So by formatting Headings in the source document with "strikeout" before saving it to the EPUB format, you will instruct Atlantis to exclude these "struck-out" Headings from the eBook text, but still use them to build the eBook table of contents itself.

This "strikeout" method will come in handy to include elements such as "Front Cover", "Title page", "Copyright", "Dedication" in the eBook TOCs, without promoting them to full-fledged Heading paragraphs on the eBook pages themselves.

Support for heading-less chapters in eBooks has already been included in the latest beta version of Atlantis. You can download it from the Betatesting page of the Atlantis Word Processor site.