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About the Format of Online Books

Most of the info on this page is for those who want to print their own books. See the formatting page to learn how.

What File Format are the Books In?  

    Plain Text Files - like those at Project Gutenberg
    HTML - like those at Gateway to the Classics, Bartleby
    Scanned Images or PDFs of Scanned Images - like those at Google Books, Internet Archive, MOA
    Uncorrected OCR Text - also available at Google Books, Internet Archive, MOA
    For Ebook Readers - Many formats available at and Project Gutenberg

Plain Text Files   Sample: Sense and Sensibility
     Plain and simple, every computer can read these. No pictures, though. (Though many at Gutenberg are also available in HTML with pictures.) All of my links to online books offer at least a text file version, unless specified otherwise. Project Gutenberg's files were my first choice, and I used them as often as possible, since they offer plain text files (easiest to format for printing) plus other formats for your ebook reader.

HTML   Sample: The Swiss Twins
     Fancier than text, because they can have bold, italics, and pictures. It can be a bit of extra work to copy and paste each page, but may be worth it to you, especially if you can't find the book elsewhere, or really want the pictures. On my RC and Series pages only: if a book's available with pictures, I've marked it with this color, and also provided a separate link if it's not at the same location as the text file.
     Do I really need pictures?  No, but sometimes they're fun for younger children, and some books contain useful maps or diagrams. One option is to use a plain text file, then copy or save the HTML picture(s) you want and paste them into the program you're using to format your text.

PDFs   Sample: A Christmas Carol
     I tried not to link to PDFs unless I couldn't find another version. Why? You can't reformat it according to your tastes, they often have a lot of wasted white space, and, depending in the page size, the text can come out itty-bitty if you print half size. (There are some that are suitable for half size printing, like those at Planet Publish. To determine the size of a PDF page, download and open with Adobe. Then click: File/ Properties. Page size is near the bottom.) If you don't mind printing full size, these are nice files and may sometimes contain pictures.
     (For PDFs of Scanned Images, read below. They are different and usually come out quite well in half size.)

Scanned Images / PDF of Scanned Images
  Sample: The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories at Internet Archive [IA]
  Sample: The Children's Book of Christmas Stories at Google Books [GB]
     These are like getting a photograph of each page of the original book (just like RC books), including any pictures it may contain. These are often large files and can take a while to download with dial-up (for those who still use it), so I've also linked to a substitute in another format when possible. But if you prefer scanned books there are many available. Most of the text files I've linked to are also available as PDFs at Google Books or the Internet Archive, even if I haven't linked to them.
     As for using with ebook readers, these can be a pain. They end up scrunched pretty small without the ability to change the font size. If it's too small, you can sometimes zoom in and scroll back and forth a lot, but that's annoying. Other file types are generally better suited to your reader (even some other types of PDFs).
Printing - You can usually print these in half size without any problem, since the originals were about that size anyway.
     When printing from Adobe, under "Page Sizing & Handling" click "Size," then select "Fit." (Older Adobe says "Fit to Printable Area.") Then the image fills the page. Of course, this might vary from one book to another, so see what looks best before printing. (Wording can vary in different versions of Adobe, and will be different in other PDF readers, but these directions should still lead you in the right direction.)
Text option - Uncorrected OCR text is usually available as well as the PDFs or scans. (See below)
Scan Color - Most online scans (like at Google Books [GB], MOA, Canadiana, etc.) are crisp black and white. But sometimes the older PDF scans at the Internet Archive [IA] are yellowed, and may print a gray background, but 1) IA is offering many more books in BW, even if also scanned in color, and 2) if not, there is a way around it.
Quick-Fix for Yellow Scans - (Note: This method worked with older versions of Adobe, but as new versions are released, I can't guarantee the same method will work.)
     Once the PDF from IA file is downloaded and opened in Adobe, look at the row of tabs at the far left. Click the one that says "layers". Click on the picture of the eye next to where it says "Background" and it will get rid of the colored background for you. The text and b & w pictures come out quite well. Colored pictures need the background turned back on, but most books have b & w pictures anyway.
     [I did a book with colored pics as follows: I printed different sections of the book at a time (pages without pictures) to FinePrint, so all the text pages ran together. (It combines all of the jobs for you.) After printing those I turned the background back on and printed the pictures on toner saver in b & w, then inserted into the book. (Many old books have a blank page after the picture page, and often they are without numbers, so it works out perfectly.)]

Uncorrected OCR text   Sample: The Story Girl
     What's OCR anyway? A technology that "reads" a scanned page and translates it into text. It's not a perfect science, but usually works pretty well. I've linked to these only as a last resort, because I'm a perfectionist and don't like so many errors. (Those listed as uncorrected OCR are also available at the same link as scanned images, or PDFs of scanned images.)

     What isn't corrected? Remember that everything that was on the original page becomes part of the text. If the title of the book, or chapter, was written at the top of each page, then that title will show up in the text everywhere a new page started. And the page numbers get thrown in too. These stand out pretty well and can be easily deleted while formatting, but that can be a pain with a large book. (Or you could just ignore the page numbers.) Sometimes the OCR translates things incorrectly and you will get strange typos, or extra blank spaces here and there.

Usually you can still tell what the text is supposed to say, even if it has typos. The table of contents will be the worst part, so scroll down to the main content before you decided if it's acceptable to you.

For Ebook Readers   Sample: The Secret Garden at ManyBooks, or at Project Gutenberg.
     More and more sites are providing books for your eBook reader. I tend to stick to four main places. Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Google Books have all added more formats in the last few years, and will generally have a version you can use. But if you still can't find the format you need (or want) there, try, which has even more to choose from. In the past MB's been my favorite place for my ebook readers, but they're no longer adding all the new books that PG gets. MB does have a few fun features though: they have a place to post and read reviews about the books, and they also list the books' genre. Links to titles at ManyBooks throughout this site are marked with MB.
Tip: If a poetry book doesn't display well on your reader, try the text file version from PG. It won't scrunch the verses all together.

     Formats available at Project Gutenberg (subject to change):
  HTML - with images, when available.
  EPUB - with images, when available, or you can choose no images.
  Kindle (.mobi) - with images, when available, or you can choose no images.
  Plain Text file - no images.
  Zipped Text file - in the "More Files" section.
  Zipped HTML file - in the "More Files" section.

     Formats available at Manybooks (subject to change):
  EPUB - Works on most devices.
  Azw3 - For Kindle or the Kindle app.
  Fb2 - For FBReader, AlReader, Haali Reader, STDU Views, CoolReader and some others.
  HTML - Use any web browser to display this file format. Many ebook readers also support.
  Mobi - Calibre, FBReader, and more. Also ebook readers like Kindle.
  Pdb - For Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, and macOS.
  PDF - Supported by most ebook readers, tablets and smartphones.
  RTF - Supported by most ebook readers and word processors.
  Txt - Basic text, compatible with almost all devices.

Go To Project Gutenberg

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