|Internet media type|
|Developed by||International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)|
|Initial release||September 2007|
|Type of format||e-book file format|
|Contained by||OEBPS Container Format (OCF; Zip)|
|Extended from||Open eBook, XHTML, CSS, DTBook|
|Standard||ISO/IEC TS 30135|
EPUB is an e-book file format that uses the ".epub" file extension. The term is short for electronic publication and is sometimes styled ePub. EPUB is supported by many e-readers, and compatible software is available for most smartphones, tablets, and computers. EPUB is a technical standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). It became an official standard of the IDPF in September 2007, superseding the older Open eBook standard.
The Book Industry Study Group endorses EPUB 3 as the format of choice for packaging content and has stated that the global book publishing industry should rally around a single standard.The EPUB format is implemented as an archive file consisting of XHTML files carrying the content, along with images and other supporting files. EPUB is the most widely supported vendor-independent XML-based (as opposed to PDF) e-book format; that is, it is supported by almost all hardware readers, except for Kindle.
A successor to the Open eBook Publication Structure, EPUB 2.0 was approved in October 2007,with a maintenance update (2.0.1) approved in September 2010.
The EPUB 3.0 specification became effective in October 2011, superseded by a minor maintenance update (3.0.1) in June 2014.New major features include support for precise layout or specialized formatting (Fixed Layout Documents), such as for comic books, and MathML support. The current version of EPUB is 3.1, effective January 5, 2017. The (text of) format specification underwent reorganization and clean-up; format supports remotely-hosted resources and new font formats (WOFF 2.0 and SFNT) and uses more pure HTML and CSS.
In May 2016 IDPF Members approved World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) merger,"to fully align the publishing industry and core Web technology".
EPUB 2.0 was approved in October 2007, with a maintenance update (2.0.1) intended to clarify and correct errata in the specifications being approved in September 2010.EPUB version 2.0.1 consists of three specifications:
.epubfile in XML.
EPUB internally uses XHTML or DTBook (an XML standard provided by the DAISY Consortium) to represent the text and structure of the content document, and a subset of CSS to provide layout and formatting. XML is used to create the document manifest, table of contents, and EPUB metadata. Finally, the files are bundled in a zip file as a packaging format.
An EPUB file uses XHTML 1.1 (or DTBook) to construct the content of a book as of version 2.0.1. This is different from previous versions (OEBPS 1.2 and earlier), which used a subset of XHTML. There are, however, a few restrictions on certain elements. The mimetype for XHTML documents in EPUB is
Styling and layout are performed using a subset of CSS 2.0, referred to as OPS Style Sheets. This specialized syntax requires that reading systems support only a portion of CSS properties and adds a few custom properties. Custom properties include
oeb-page-head, oeb-page-foot, and
oeb-column-number. Font-embedding can be accomplished using the
@font-face property, as well as including the font file in the OPF's manifest (see below). The mimetype for CSS documents in EPUB is
EPUB also requires that PNG, JPEG, GIF, and SVG images be supported using the mimetypes
image/png, image/jpeg, image/gif, image/svg+xml. Other media types are allowed, but creators must include alternative renditions using supported types. For a table of all required mimetypes, see Section 1.3.7 of the specification.
Unicode is required, and content producers must use either UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoding.This is to support international and multilingual books. However, reading systems are not required to provide the fonts necessary to display every unicode character, though they are required to display at least a placeholder for characters that cannot be displayed fully.
An example skeleton of an XHTML file for EPUB looks like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd"><htmlxmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"xml:lang="en"><head><metahttp-equiv="Content-Type"content="application/xhtml+xml; charset=utf-8"/><title>Pride and Prejudice</title><linkrel="stylesheet"href="css/main.css"type="text/css"/></head><body> ... </body></html>
The OPF specification's purpose is to "...[define] the mechanism by which the various components of an OPS publication are tied together and provides additional structure and semantics to the electronic publication."
The OPF file, traditionally named
content.opf, houses the EPUB book's metadata, file manifest, and linear reading order. This file has a root element
package and four child elements:
metadata, manifest, spine, and
guide. Furthermore, the
package node must have the
unique-identifier attribute. The .opf file's mimetype is
metadata element contains all the metadata information for a particular EPUB file. Three metadata tags are required (though many more are available):
title, language, and
title contains the title of the book,
language contains the language of the book's contents in RFC 3066 format or its successors, such as the newer RFC 4646 and
identifier contains a unique identifier for the book, such as its ISBN or a URL. The
id attribute should equal the
unique-identifier attribute from the
manifest element lists all the files contained in the package. Each file is represented by an
item element, and has the attributes
id, href, media-type. All XHTML (content documents), stylesheets, images or other media, embedded fonts, and the NCX file should be listed here. Only the
.opf file itself, the
container.xml, and the
mimetype files should not be included. Note that in the example below, an arbitrary
media-type is given to the included font file, even though no mimetype exists for fonts.
spine element lists all the XHTML content documents in their linear reading order. Also, any content document that can be reached through linking or the table of contents must be listed as well. The
toc attribute of
spine must contain the
id of the NCX file listed in the manifest. Each
idref is set to the
id of its respective content document.
guide element is an optional element for the purpose of identifying fundamental structural components of the book. Each
reference element has the attributes
type, title, href. Files referenced in
href must be listed in the manifest, and are allowed to have an element identifier (e.g. #figures in the example).
An example OPF file:
<?xml version="1.0"?><packageversion="2.0"xmlns="http://www.idpf.org/2007/opf"unique-identifier="BookId"><metadataxmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/"xmlns:opf="http://www.idpf.org/2007/opf"><dc:title>Pride and Prejudice</dc:title><dc:language>en</dc:language><dc:identifierid="BookId"opf:scheme="ISBN">123456789X</dc:identifier><dc:creatoropf:file-as="Austen, Jane"opf:role="aut">Jane Austen</dc:creator></metadata><manifest><itemid="chapter1"href="chapter1.xhtml"media-type="application/xhtml+xml"/><itemid="appendix"href="appendix.xhtml"media-type="application/xhtml+xml"/><itemid="stylesheet"href="style.css"media-type="text/css"/><itemid="ch1-pic"href="ch1-pic.png"media-type="image/png"/><itemid="myfont"href="css/myfont.otf"media-type="application/x-font-opentype"/><itemid="ncx"href="toc.ncx"media-type="application/x-dtbncx+xml"/></manifest><spinetoc="ncx"><itemrefidref="chapter1"/><itemrefidref="appendix"/></spine><guide><referencetype="loi"title="List Of Illustrations"href="appendix.xhtml#figures"/></guide></package>
The NCX file (Navigation Control file for XML), traditionally named
toc.ncx, contains the hierarchical table of contents for the EPUB file. The specification for NCX was developed for Digital Talking Book (DTB), is maintained by the DAISY Consortium, and is not a part of the EPUB specification. The NCX file has a mimetype of
Of note here is that the values for the
docTitle, docAuthor, and
meta name="dtb:uid" elements should match their analogs in the OPF file. Also, the
meta name="dtb:depth" element is set equal to the depth of the
navPoint elements can be nested to create a hierarchical table of contents.
navLabel's content is the text that appears in the table of contents generated by reading systems that use the .ncx.
content element points to a content document listed in the manifest and can also include an element identifier (e.g. #section1).
A description of certain exceptions to the NCX specification as used in EPUB is in Section 2.4.1 of the specification. The complete specification for NCX can be found in Section 8 of the Specifications for the Digital Talking Book.
An example .ncx file:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><!DOCTYPE ncx PUBLIC "-//NISO//DTD ncx 2005-1//EN""http://www.daisy.org/z3986/2005/ncx-2005-1.dtd"><ncxversion="2005-1"xml:lang="en"xmlns="http://www.daisy.org/z3986/2005/ncx/"><head><!-- The following four metadata items are required for all NCX documents,including those that conform to the relaxed constraints of OPS 2.0 --><metaname="dtb:uid"content="123456789X"/><!-- same as in .opf --><metaname="dtb:depth"content="1"/><!-- 1 or higher --><metaname="dtb:totalPageCount"content="0"/><!-- must be 0 --><metaname="dtb:maxPageNumber"content="0"/><!-- must be 0 --></head><docTitle><text>Pride and Prejudice</text></docTitle><docAuthor><text>Austen, Jane</text></docAuthor><navMap><navPointclass="chapter"id="chapter1"playOrder="1"><navLabel><text>Chapter 1</text></navLabel><contentsrc="chapter1.xhtml"/></navPoint></navMap></ncx>
An EPUB file is a group of files that conform to the OPS/OPF standards and are wrapped in a ZIP file.The OCF specifies how to organize these files in the ZIP, and defines two additional files that must be included.
mimetype file must be a text document in ASCII that contains the string
application/epub+zip. It must also be uncompressed, unencrypted, and the first file in the ZIP archive. This file provides a more reliable way for applications to identify the mimetype of the file than just the
Also, there must be a folder named
META-INF, which contains the required file
container.xml. This XML file points to the file defining the contents of the book. This is the OPF file, though additional alternative
rootfile elements are allowed.
META-INF/container.xml, the other files (OPF, NCX, XHTML, CSS and images files) are traditionally put in a directory named
An example file structure:
--ZIP Container-- mimetype META-INF/ container.xml OEBPS/ content.opf chapter1.xhtml ch1-pic.png css/ style.css myfont.otf
An example container.xml, given the above file structure:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><containerversion="1.0"xmlns="urn:oasis:names:tc:opendocument:xmlns:container"><rootfiles><rootfilefull-path="OEBPS/content.opf"media-type="application/oebps-package+xml"/></rootfiles></container>
The EPUB 3.0 Recommended Specification was approved on 11 October 2011. On June 26, 2014 EPUB 3.0.1 was approved as a minor maintenance update to EPUB 3.0. EPUB 3.0 supersedes the previous release 2.0.1.
EPUB 3 consists of a set of four specifications:
The EPUB 3.0 format was intended to address the following criticisms:
On June 26, 2014, the IDPF published EPUB 3.0.1 as a final Recommended Specification.
In November 2014, EPUB 3.0 was published by the International Standards Organization as ISO/IEC TS 30135 (parts 1-7).
In January 2020, EPUB 3.0.1 was published by the International Standards Organization as ISO/IEC 23736 (parts 1-6).
EPUB 3.2 was announced in 2018,and the final specification was released in 2019.
The format and many readers support the following:
An EPUB file can optionally contain DRM as an additional layer, but it is not required by the specifications.In addition, the specification does not name any particular DRM system to use, so publishers can choose a DRM scheme to their liking. However, future versions of EPUB (specifically OCF) may specify a format for DRM.
The EPUB specification does not enforce or suggest a particular DRM scheme. This could affect the level of support for various DRM systems on devices and the portability of purchased e-books. Consequently, such DRM incompatibility may segment the EPUB format along the lines of DRM systems, undermining the advantages of a single standard format and confusing the consumer.
DRMed EPUB files must contain a file called
rights.xml within the
META-INF directory at the root level of the ZIP container. [ clarification needed ]
EPUB is widely used on software readers such as Google Play Books on Android and Apple Books on iOS and macOS, but not by Amazon Kindle's e-readers or associated apps for other platforms. Kindle uses mainly the Mobipocket (MOBI) format, or their proprietary formats AZW, AZW3 or KFX. iBooks also supports the proprietary iBook format, which is based on the EPUB format but depends upon code from the iBooks app to function.
An EPUB file is an archive that contains, in effect, a website. It includes HTML files, images, CSS style sheets, and other assets. It also contains metadata. EPUB 3 is the latest version. By using HTML5, publications can contain video, audio, and interactivity, just like websites in web browsers.
An ePub publication is delivered as a single file. This file is an unencrypted zipped archive containing a set of interrelated resources.
An OCF (Open Container Format) Abstract Container defines a file system model for the contents of the container. The file system model uses a single common root directory for all contents in the container. All (non-remote) resources for publications are in the directory tree headed by the container's root directory, though EPUB mandates no specific file system structure for this. The file system model includes a mandatory directory named META-INF that is a direct child of the container's root directory. META-INF stores container.xml.
The first file in the archive must be the mimetype file. It must be unencrypted and uncompressed so that non-ZIP utilities can read the mimetype. The mimetype file must be an ASCII file that contains the string "application/epub+zip". This file provides a more reliable way for applications to identify the mimetype of the file than just the .epub extension.
An example file structure:
--ZIP Container-- mimetype META-INF/ container.xml OEBPS/ content.opf chapter1.xhtml ch1-pic.png css/ style.css myfont.otf toc.ncx
There must be a META-INF directory containing container.xml. This file points to the file defining the contents of the book, the OPF file, though additional alternative rootfile elements are allowed.Apart from mimetype and META-INF/container.xml, the other files (OPF, NCX, XHTML, CSS and images files) are traditionally put in a directory named OEBPS. An example container.xml:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?><containerversion="1.0"xmlns="urn:oasis:names:tc:opendocument:xmlns:container"><rootfiles><rootfilefull-path="OEBPS/content.opf"media-type="application/oebps-package+xml"/></rootfiles></container>
The ePUB container must contain:
The ePUB container may contain:
Content documents include:HTML 5 content, navigation documents, SVG documents, scripted content documents, and fixed layout documents. Contents also include CSS and PLS documents. Navigation documents supersedes the NCX grammar used in EPUB 2.
Books with synchronized audio narration are created in EPUB 3 by using media overlay documents to describe the timing for the pre-recorded audio narration and how it relates to the EPUB Content Document markup. The file format for Media Overlays is defined as a subset of SMIL.
Many editors exist including calibre and Sigil, both of which are open source. Another open source tool, called epubcheck, can be used for validating and detecting errors in the structural markup (OCF, OPF, OPS), image, and XHTML files.
Readers exist for all major hardware platforms with the exception of Amazon Kindle, such as Adobe Digital Editions and calibre on desktop platforms, Google Play Books and Aldiko on Android and iOS, and Apple Books on macOS and iOS.
The following software can read and display EPUB files:
|Software||License||Platform||DRM formats supported||Notes|
|Adobe Digital Editions||Proprietary||Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X||Adobe Content Server||Requires online activation for ePub files with DRM.|
|Aldiko||Proprietary||Android||Adobe Content Server||Supports ePub for Android devices.|
|Apple Books||Proprietary||OS X, iOS||FairPlay||Supports EPUB 2 and EPUB 3. Books not readable directly on computers other than Macs.|
|Bluefire Reader||Proprietary||Apple iOS, Android||Adobe Content Server||Supports ePub for Android and iOS devices.|
|calibre||GPL||Windows, OS X, Linux||None||Primarily for library management, conversion, and transferring to devices, it includes an EPUB reader and editor. "About". Calibre.|
|Microsoft Edge||Proprietary||Windows 10||Microsoft Edge will end support for e-books that use the .epub file extension over the next several months. "August 30, 2019—KB4512941".|
|FBReader||Proprietary||Windows, Linux, Android, PDAs, OS X||None|
|Google Play Books||Proprietary||Web application, Android, Apple iOS||Lektz DRM||Supports downloading purchased books as ePub and/or PDF.|
|Kitabu||Proprietary||OS X||None||Supports ePub3, ePub2, Fixed layout.|
|Kobo||Proprietary||Windows, OS X, Android, Apple iOS, Kobo eReader Software,||Adobe Content Server||Supports EPUB 2 and EPUB 3.|
|Lektz Readers||Proprietary||Web application, Google Android, OS X, iOS, Windows||Lektz||eBook Readers for PDF, ePUB/2 and ePUB3 providing uniform experience across different platforms - iOS, Android, Windows PC, Mac Desktop and Web.|
|Lucifox||GPL||Windows, OS X, Linux||None||Ebook reader add-on with annotations for Firefox. Supports open standard ebooks in EPUB 3- and EPUB 2 format and retrieval of books from OPDS book catalogues.|
|Okular||GPL||Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Snapplify||Proprietary||All Web browsers, Apple iOS, Android||Adobe Content Server Snapplify SnappSafe DRM||Supports downloading purchased books as ePub and/or PDF. Supports PDF, ePUB2 and ePUB3 standard of ebooks.|
|STDU Viewer||Freeware||Windows||Supports many documents format including ePub.|
|Sumatra PDF||GPL||Windows||Adobe Content Server||Supports ePub for devices.|
See also the Wikipedia category for articles about EPUB readers.
|ABBYY FineReader||Microsoft Windows||Proprietary||Version 11 exports to EPUB format.|
|Abiword||FreeBSD, Linux, Windows||GPL||Support EPUB 2.0 format export since 2.9.1 release|
|Adobe InDesign||Windows, OS X||Proprietary||Exports to EPUB format. Versions prior to 5.5 create EPUBs that require significant editing to pass ePubCheck or ePubPreFlight. As from InDesign CC 2014, InDesign can export in ePub3 fixed-layout format.|
|Adobe RoboHelp||Windows||Unknown||Online documentation tool that supports export to EPUB format|
|Atlantis Word Processor||Windows, Portable app||Shareware||Converts any document to EPUB; supports multilevel TOCs, font embedding, and batch conversion.|
|Booktype||Web||GPL||Book production platform that outputs to many formats, including ePub. The platform can import content in various formats and supports collaborative editing.|
|calibre||Windows, OS X, FreeBSD, Linux||GPL||Conversion software and e-book organizer. Allows plugins, including for editing EPUB files; there is for instance a plugin to merge several EPUB files into one.|
|Creative Book Builder||Apple iOS , OS X, Android||Unknown||Editor on mobile devices that can import EPUB and export EPUB and PDF|
|eLML||Windows, OS X, FreeBSD, Linux||Unknown||The eLesson Markup Language is a platform-independent XML-based open source framework to create eLearning content. It supports various output formats like SCORM, HTML, PDF and also eBooks based on the ePub format.|
|Feedbooks||Web||Unknown||Free cloud service for downloading public domain works and for self-publishing.|
|Help & Manual||Windows||Proprietary||Single source publishing tool that generates ePUB amongst several other documentation formats.|
|HelpNDoc||Windows||Free for personal use, commercial otherwise.||Help authoring tool that generates EPUB files and other formats.|
|iBooks Author||OS X||Unknown||Desktop publishing and page layout application. Free from Apple. Can export .ibooks format, which is a proprietary format based on EPUB. There are restrictions on the commercial distribution of works created with iBooks in the .ibooks format. These restrictions apply to the .ibooks format only and it can be argued that a file renamed to .epub is not distributed in the .ibooks format.|
|iStudio Publisher||OS X||Proprietary||Desktop publishing and page layout application.|
|LibreOffice||Windows, OS X, Linux||Mozilla Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License||Text processor with a functionality to export as ePub3 format since version 6.0. Also allowed to export as ePub format via installing extension, such as eLaix.|
|Lulu.com||Web||Proprietary||Converts .doc, .docx, or PDF manuscripts to an ePub in order that they may be sold on the Website in question.|
|Madcap Flare||Windows||Proprietary||Single source publishing tool that can export content as ePUB.|
|oXygen XML Editor||OS X, Windows, FreeBSD, Linux||Proprietary||oXygen XML Editor is the first tool that supports creating, transforming, and validating the documents that comprise the EPUB package.|
|Pages||OS X||Unknown||Word processor (part of the iWork '09 suite) that can export to EPUB format (Pages '09 only, and only with the iWork 9.0.4 update).|
|Pages||Apple iOS||Unknown||Word processor for mobile devices that can export to EPUB format|
|Pandoc||Unix-like, Windows||GPLv2||Can output EPUB Versions 2 and 3|
|Playwrite||OS X||Proprietary||Native EPUB-based word processor. Native to EPUB 3 with EPUB 2 compatibility.|
|QuarkXPress||OS X, Windows||Proprietary||Desktop publishing tool, page layout application. Exports also to the ePUB format.|
|Serif PagePlus||Windows||Proprietary||Desktop publishing program that can export to the EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 format. Comes with built-in output conversion profiles for targeting specific devices, as well as generic devices. Also includes pre-tested blank eBook templates, or can open and edit existing PDF files and publish as EPUB.|
|Scrivener||Windows, OS X||Proprietary||Program for writers. Includes organization capabilities for fiction writers. Publishes to multiple formats.|
|Sigil||Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, OS X||GPL||Can open and edit EPUB books, instead of just converting from other formats to EPUB. Since version 0.7, supports embedding video or audio in EPUB.|
|eXeLearning||Windows, Linux, OS X||GPL||Can be used to create educational interactive Web content, HTML5, IMS, SCORM and EPUB3 books|
typeis in "Section 2.6", ePub OPDF 2.0.1 (specification draft), IDPF.
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