The Lost Sigil Ebook Editor Manual

What is Sigil

Sigil is a free, open-source ebook editing program. This step-by-step manual will show you the incredible capabilities and functions of the Sigil Ebook Editor program so you can create ebooks for epub and mobi.

~ ~ ~

I created this manual as a Basic User Guide for authors wanting to use the free, open source program Sigil Ebook Editor. Though Sigil has an online manual, it was written for the anticiapted release of Sigil 0.6.0. Unfortunately the most current stable version is 0.5.3, of which some features to be introduced are not yet available in 0.5.3.

The following is an excerpt from the user guide

About this book

This book was written with the author in mind. It is not a CSS / HTML training course for those planning to do formatting as a career. It is simply a manual showing the capabilities of the Sigil E-book Editor. For in-depth resources on HTML and CSS, please see the References section of this book.

It is not necessary to understand what an e-book really is or how HTML formatting actually works to use Sigil, but learning the very basics will enable you to take advantage of advanced features in the program.

At first glance, you may find the Sigil interface intimidating. I promise it is a lot easier than it looks. And the more time you spend in the Sigil program, the more comfortable you will become.

The Lost Sigil E-Book Editor Manual covers the basic functions new users need to know in order to create a well-formatted and validated e-book. I highlight important topics such as:

  • Navigating the workspace
  • Features and Functions
  • How to import your manuscript
  • How to set styles
  • How to set up your metadata
  • How to create a table of contents
  • How to decipher and correct validation errors


Do not assume this book is an easy answer to all your e-book formatting needs. It is not. This is probably your first stab at formatting, so expect a learning curve. This book is a stepping-stone to help you understand the basic process of formatting and is geared for the author with limited technical knowledge; (repeat) it is not intended as an advanced college-level programming course.

Sigil E-book Editor
v. 5.3

(July 2012)

Sigil Changelog

Sigil is continually in a state of change. The Lost Sigil E-Book Editor Manual is based on the most current stable version at the time of publication – 0.5.3.

In June 2012, Sigil temporarily released 5.9 Beta as a precursor to an anticipated 6.0 release with a variety of improvements. Actual release date for 6.0 is not known at this time.

What is an e-book format?

To avoid confusion, I will use the term HTML when referring to Sigil pages, which may be either HTML or XHTML.

Mobi and epub e-books are miniature web pages. That’s an extreme oversimplification, but essentially true. The foundation of the epub or mobi format is HTML or HyperText Markup Language, which is also the main markup language for web pages.

E-books (epub and mobi) are created just like a website. Your book, like a website, has several pages that are linked together using a visual navigation or clickable table of contents.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML or HTM) is the main markup language for web pages and epub/mobi e-books.

What is the Sigil E-book Editor?

Sigil (sigillum) in Latin means “small seal” or “signet”. The word “sigla” (according to Wikipedia) also stands for an abbreviation used in medieval manuscripts.

Sigil is a free multi-platform product supported by Windows, Mac, Linux and other operating systems.

Originally developed by Strahinja Marković in 2009 it has been maintained by John Schember since 2011.

As a cross-platform application, it is distributed for the Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms under the GNU GPL license. Sigil supports both WYSIWYG and code-based editing of EPUB files, as well as the import of HTML and plain text files.

What is WYSIWYG?

Sigil’s e-book editor displays your book’s content in WYSIWYG (what you see is what your get). This means that any styles and formatting you apply will display in the window similarly to the way the reader will see it on his or her e-reader device.

WYSIWYG (pronounced wizzywig) is not 100% accurate. Content displayed using WYSIWYG is only similar to the actual output. Therefore, it is important you visually proof your book on the devices it is intended for prior to publishing to ensure it displays exactly the way you want.

Sigil Help

The Lost Sigil Ebook Editor Manual will not answer all your e-book formatting questions. Fortunately, there are numerous online resources as well as an entire community of Sigil users, wikis and FAQs to help.

The Sigil community offers a tremendous amount of help and advice. Additionally, if you experience defects or bugs in the program, take the time to report the issue so it can be fixed in the next update.

The following links take you directly to Sigil’s online help and advice sections.


“The Lost Sigil Ebook Editor Manual”