How to convert a Word file to EPUB using Calibre

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2016

If you don’t want to hire a company to create your EPUB book, you can easily do it yourself with Calibre. It’s widely used and free to download, but Calibre welcomes your support.

Calibre can convert to and from a variety of formats, including Word to EPUB. It also has a built-in editor that allows you to edit books in the most popular formats, like EPUB and AZW3 (Kindle).

Prepare the text in Word:

Keep things simple and safe. Although e-book readers are getting more advanced, many of them use their own standard formats, and complex Word formatting are not converted. Page numbers are ignored, as are running headers and footers. Font properties like bold and italic are supported. A common font is recommended.

A few things to keep in mind:

Create a table of contents to make it easy for users to navigate the book. Use Word’s built-in TOC feature to generate the table. For assistance, see the instructions at Microsoft Support. Page numbers are removed during the EPUB conversion, but the links from the TOC to the individual chapters are preserved.

Add a page break after each chapter to make it easier to read the e-book. Use CTRL+ENTER to insert a hard page break.

Don’t use the TAB key to indent paragraphs. Instead, use the paragraph formatting feature (right-click and choose Paragraph) to indent the first line in a paragraph.

Pictures should be inserted using the Insert menu, not by copying and pasting from another program.

For publishing in Kindle Store, see the Kindle formatting guide.

Convert your book with Calibre:

This is the main screen in Calibre:


1. Start by choosing Preferences to the right on the menu bar. Click Output Options in the Preferences window that opens. In the Output Options window, choose EPUB Output and then check the Preserve cover aspect ratio box. If you don’t do this, your book cover will not scale proportionally, but appear distorted in e-book readers. More about that later. Click the Apply button.


2. Drag and drop your book to Calibre or click Add books on the menu bar and choose the book.

3. Select the book and click Convert books. In the conversion window, fill in the necessary author and publisher details and tags (keywords used by customers to search for the book) and choose a cover image. Then click OK.


You return to the main screen, with your book to the right in the window.


4. Click EPUB beneath the book to open it in Calibre’s own e-book viewer. If you don’t set the cover aspect ratio as described above, the cover will appear distorted:


This is how it should look like:


5. Finally, save the EPUB by clicking the arrow next to Save to disc on the menu bar and choose an option, for instance Save only EPUB format to disc.

If you are familiar with CSS and HTML, you can edit the e-book with Edit book. The Edit book window also allows you to check the book for problems that could prevent it from working correctly in readers.

That’s all.

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