Getting Started with Jutoh

Jutoh website

by C.K. MacLeod

Updated, December 12, 2015

Jutoh is an inexpensive ebook editor that allows you to convert Word docx files to mobi or epub formats. Below are resources and a cheat sheet to help you find your way around Jutoh.

Jutoh Resources

Manual

Julian Smart, the creator of Jutoh has written a detailed manual titled, Creating Great Ebooks Using Jutoh. It's available as a free download in a variety of formats on his website. I prefer to access the online HTML version because I can find answers to questions fastest if call up the manual with search terms in Google.

For example, if I key in the terms "Jutoh" and "pictures," Google will call up Chapter 11: Working With Pictures in a matter of seconds. If you prefer to scroll through a PDF or view the manual as an epub on your tablet, those options are available, too.

Video Tutorials

There are a few detailed video tutorials that demonstrate how to Jutoh:

How to Format .epub and .mobi (Kindle) Ebook Files, by India Drummond is about twenty minutes long and will give you the fastest way in to setting up a fiction book with limited styling in Jutoh.

Geoff Shaw has a short seven-video Jutoh training  series that walks you through creating an ebook in Jutoh, and John Griffin shows you how to use a template in Jutoh. Templates are useful if you'll be creating a lot of ebooks in Jutoh.

Dr. Julian Smart

If you've combed the available resources for an answer to a conundrum, but you've come up with nothing, don't worry. I was delighted to discover that the Doctor was indeed in. Dr. Julian Smart, that is. If you have a question that the manual and videos don't answer, you can email Julian Smart for help.

Jutoh Cheat Sheet

After viewing the videos, searching through the manual, mucking about in Jutoh, and contacting Julian Smart, I compiled a cheat sheet—a list of how-do-I questions that I can return to the next time I use Jutoh to create an ebook.

While this is not a comprehensive list, I do believe that it contains some of the tasks you'll want to accomplish in Jutoh. Feel free to let me know if I've missed anything.

The items in this list are alphabetical. I'd recommend reading through the left column quickly so you know what's there, and later, when you have a question, you'll be able to find that item quickly. 

You'll understand the items in the table better if you know what Jutoh looks like when you're working in it. Here's a screenshot of the various panes:

Jutoh panes

One final thought: the first time I converted an ebook using Jutoh, I did everything in Word—applied styles, inserted hyperlinks, and so forth—and then exported the file to Jutoh.

The second time, I created a document in Word, stripped out all of the formatting, exported it to Jutoh, and then applied all of my styling in Jutoh.

I found the first method more efficient, probably due to my familiarity with Word. Both methods created a nicely styled ebook.

3 Essential Tools for Publishing

By C. K. MacLeod Number three

Self-publishing authors are doing everything that traditional publishers once did: writing, editing, and designing and formatting books. These tasks require authors to be more tech aware than ever before.

Tech tools can help with tasks once handled by traditional publishers. Below, I'll share with you the three tech tools that I use for my self-publishing workflow.

Criteria for Choosing Tools

These are my criteria for choosing the tools I'll use...

A tool must

  • have the right features for the task
  • make a task more efficient
  • be inexpensive, from a cost-per-use standpoint
  • not take too much time to learn (there is only so much time for steep learning curves when you're a jack-of-all-trades)
  • have adequate support in the way of tutorials, videos, guides, forums, or someone to answer questions, if necessary

The tools I describe below meet all of these criteria.

Sure, it'd be wonderful if one tool could do it all, but I haven't found that tool (let me know if you have). No tool is designed to do everything, and using some tools for editing, for example, is akin to using a spoon to dig a hole to plant a tree. The smartest thing you can do is choose the best tool for the job.

These three tools are the best tools for the jobs I do...

Scrivener

For writing book-length works, I haven't found a tool that beats Scrivener. Scrivener shines in the way it allows writers to arrange and manipulate sections of a book. If you're a plotter, panster or tweener, you can begin writing your book from the beginning or middle because you can arrange your book's sections with ease later.

Scrivener will let you store your book alongside research notes and pictures, and it has nifty colour coded labels that can help you to indicate your progress on a section of writing. You can also set word count targets, which can help you reach your daily or weekly writing goals.

Scrivener Labels
Assign coloured labels to files in Scrivener

This handy Scrivener cheat sheet will get you started.

While Scrivener has track changes and comments features, it isn't my favourite tool for editing my writing. As a professional editor, I know that there are ways to automate editing tasks, which helps with efficiency, but more importantly, helps me to catch errors I'd otherwise miss.

Microsoft Word / WPS Writer

My tool of choice for automated editing tasks is Microsoft Word. Most professional editors use Word for editing, and with good reason. If Word isn't in your budget, try WPS Writer(part of the WPS Office suite). The free version mirrors many of Word's powerful features. Upgrading to the Pro version ($60) will allow you to run macros—tiny programs that automate hours-long editing tasks with a few clicks. If you can cut and paste, you can learn to use a macro. This free 20-Minute Macro Course will teach you how.

For the record: while I do everything to make my writing as polished as it can be, I know that I'm not the best person to copyedit my own writing. I have my editor do that. If you hire a copyeditor, your copyeditor will most likely work in Word (and if she doesn't, and she charges by the hour, you may pay more for editing than you should).

Jutoh

After the editing stage, you'll likely format your book for e-reading devices. Word is notoriously finicky for formatting ebooks, and Scrivener creates ebook files with unsightly gaps between words. So, while you can format ebooks with Scrivener or Word, they aren't the best tools for the job.

To format ebooks, I prefer Jutoh for a more reliable outcome. You can export an edited Word document into Jutoh easily, and if you've had the foresight to style your paragraphs and headings in Word, those styles will transfer, too. Jutoh will then create an epub or a mobi.

Having the right tools for the right tasks will help you produce better books, faster. While the tools I recommend aren't the only tools to get the job done, they are the best tools I've found to date.

Image by Hubert Figuière

Ebooks Made Easy: Word to Jutoh in 10 Steps

Jutoh Ebook Editorby C.K. MacLeod

Updated. Originally posted at Beyond Paper Editing.

Have you discovered Jutoh? Jutoh is an elegant and inexpensive piece of software ($39 USD) that allows you to convert Word docx files or ODT files to epub and mobi ebook formats.

Jutoh will work for fiction that's mostly straight text, but it will also handle nonfiction texts with

  • pictures
  • headings
  • bulleted and numbered lists, and
  • internal and external hyperlinks

Word to Jutoh Workflow

Below is my Word-to-Jutoh workflow. Unless otherwise stated, I perform most of these steps in Word 2010.

1. Tag any special formatting that you'd like to retain, such as headings, italicized and boldface words, and hyperlinks. JW Manus suggests a system for tagging special formatting. Use what works for you. The idea is that you want to be able to search and replace for these items later.

2. Nuke your Word doc. Word is infamous for creating formatting gremlins that can show up in your ebook. Zap 'em. Copy your entire book into Notepad (comes with Windows) or another text editor and paste it into a brand new Word document. I then execute a Clear All from the Word Styles menu for good measure.

A bit much? Maybe. But I've noticed that a nuke doesn't always remove hidden fonts. How do I know? CrossEyes (free for PC users) helps me to see what lies beneath...

3. Clean up any extra uses of the space bar and Enter key, such as extra spaces between words and after end punctuation, or extra paragraph spaces. Clean up tabs, too. You can use a copyeditor's trick and do this automatically by using tools like the Editorium's File Cleaner or the Wiley Publishing Cleanup Tool (free). You can also use Word's Find and Replace feature to clean up extra tabs and spaces.

4. Set heading and paragraph styles in Word. If you want to use an indented paragraph style, be sure to set your indents in your paragraph style. Use fonts that are ebook-friendly and copyright free. Times New Roman is always a safe bet. Remember, readers can adjust fonts on their e-readersyou want to choose a font that plays nicely with conversion software.

5. Resize images in an image editor. I use Paint.NET, but GIMP is another good free option. Check your distributor (Amazonor Lulu, for example) for image width and height restrictions.

6. Insert images into your Word file (Insert, Image). Images can really increase your file size so you may need to compress them. You can compress them in your image editor by setting the image quality to 75%.

7. Insert external, or off-book hyperlinks where you've tagged them. Shorten links using a link shortening service, like bit.ly or Pretty Link. Shortened links have a better chance of surviving your chosen distributor's converter.

8. Address any cross-references, or internal hyperlinks in your book using Word's bookmark feature. If you forget to do this in Word, you can use Jutoh's indexing feature.

9. Page through your document with with the Show/Hide feature activated (Pilcrow). Look for any extra spaces you may have missed (or re-introducedit happens).

10. Export your file to Jutoh. If you've carefully formatted your document in Word, your file will export almost seamlessly, with styles, images, and hyperlinks attached. Tip: some font styles won't export. If you use the ebook-friendly fonts recommended by the Jutoh manual, your fonts will transfer over.

Jutoh is designed to play nicely with Word. If you follow good ebook formatting practices in Word, your book file will convert seamlessly.