Nellie McKesson speaks about Web technology and its application to publishing; new and developing publishing technologies and workflows; and the future of publishing in general. She presents her information in an unassuming conversational style, presenting clear explanations in simple terms for all audiences.

Single-Source Typesetting

PageBreak 2022

San Francisco, CA, USA, October 27, 2022

In this panel, Nellie was joined by fellow single-source typesetting experts Dave Cramer and Julie Blanc to discuss the lessons they've learned throughout their careers building single-source workflows and tools, and accelerating the production of books via HTML typesetting. .

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Pagination in the Browser: What, Why, and How

EbookCraft 2019

Toronto, Canada, March 19, 2019

Publishers and book-makers are still looking for ways to make more books, faster, while maintaining the quality that readers expect from professional products. More and more publishers are exploring ways to add automation to their workflows, and looking for tools that can replace or at least speed up the traditional InDesign workflow. Unfortunately, today's standard automation tools can't match the page quality that InDesign offers (at least not without tedious time-investment). At the same time, e-reading systems continue to vary widely in their support of standard Web design elements, which makes it difficult to create digital book products that can rival their print counterparts. Both of these reasons explain the continued interest in finding browser-based pagination solutions — as page-layout alternatives and as browser-based reading systems. In this session, we explained the problems that publishers are facing, and how web-based pagination can offer a solution to those problems. We also went over some of the tools available today and those in development, a few case studies, and some of the theoretical concepts behind browser-based pagination.

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CSS and HTML for designers

PePcon 2018

New Orleans, LA, USA, June 12, 2018

In this 3-hour tutorial, we introduced designers to the concepts of HTML and CSS, with the goal of building an nderstanding of these core web design languages to help designers collaborate more effectively with coding teams or even design directly in digital formats. We walked through the basics of HTML and CSS, and how these two technologies go hand-in-hand to style and compose content, giving attendees a solid understanding of the fundamentals of these core web design technologies and the confidence to edit HTML and CSS documents or even to create them from scratch. Topics covered: The basics: opening and editing HTML and CSS files; Anatomy of HTML tags and documents; Including graphics and other media; Exporting HTML from InDesign; Anatomy of CSS rules; How to apply CSS styles to different parts of an HTML document; Understanding the cascade; Working with fonts; Next-level CSS: animations, transformations, and print media; Out-of-the-box web design frameworks.

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Download the accompanying handout

Automating Publishing Workflows

W3C Publishing Summit

San Francisco, CA, USA, November 2017

This talk walks you through the reality of implementing an automated publishing toolchain today. Nellie goes over the reasons why automation is important and how web technologies have made automation more available to publishers, as well as the details around how to implement this kind of workflow and the real-world hurdles and unique questions every publishing company needs to ask when implementing a new toolchain.

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HTML First: Single-Sourcing to Print, PDF, EPUB, and more

PePcon 2017

Atlanta, GA, USA, May 25, 2017

In this session, we explore why publishers seeking new, innovative workflows should look beyond traditional commercial desktop publishing suites and embrace open web technology as the building blocks for next-generation book authoring and production tools. Topics include: HTML5 as a semantic source format; print typesetting with CSS Paged Media; and using HTML5 as a base format from which all other formats can be created.

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How I built an automated ebook production platform--and you can too!

EbookCraft 2017

Toronto, Canada, March 23, 2017

Automating ebook production can seem daunting, but there are a lot of tools already out there that can help you along. If you don't try to build a rigid, everlasting, and unbreakable automated toolchain, but instead think about the points of change and build around them, then the task of automating becomes much less scary. Get a first-hand look at a successful case study and get some practical guidance for building functions that work smoothly and meet user needs.

Play Watch on BookNetCanada

CSS for Print Screencast Series


September 24, 2014

In this series of four screencasts commissioned by O'Reilly Media, Nellie teaches you the basics of writing CSS for print products like books, starting with HTML and CSS basics and progressing through basic layout, CSS3 paged media, and generated content.

Part 1, "Introduction to HTML and CSS," introduces the basics of content markup with HTML and styling with CSS. Topics include: HTML5 elements and attributes, semantic tagging for book content, CSS properties and values, CSS positional and attribute selectors, and stylesheet cascade and inheritance.

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Part 2, "Basic Layout and Text Formatting," covers the essentials of text formatting and layout with CSS. Topics include: block elements vs. inline elements; the CSS box model; margins, borders, and padding; adjusting text font, size, and weight; and adding custom fonts with @font-face and font-family.

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Part 3, "Paged Media Basics," introduces CSS Paged Media, and teaches you how to write stylesheets to create layouts for print output. Topics include: the @page rule, page sizes and margins, defining master pages, and Paged Media's 16 margin areas.

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Part 4, "Generated Content - Counters and Strings," teaches you how to use Paged Media Generated Content to add page numbers and customized headers/footers to print output. Topics include: generating page numbers with counters, the counter-reset and counter-increment properties, and autogenerating strings using string-set.

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Publisher Case Study: O'Reilly Media

IDPF Seminar: EPUB and the Open Web Platform for Publishers

Noida, India, November 30, 2013

O'Reilly Media was a pioneer in the digital publishing world, starting with the first commercial website and an ebook publishing program dating back to the 1990's. Founder Tim O'Reilly and his team saw the future importance of digital media, and implemented a markup-based publishing toolchain in spite of their critics. Nellie walks you through the development of O'Reilly's single-source toolchain, and showcases some of the ways O'Reilly is currently leveraging their success.

View slides on idpf.org

HTML5 for Publishers

IDPF Seminar: EPUB and the Open Web Platform for Publishers

Noida, India, November 30, 2013

Based on Sanders Kleinfeld's in depth book, Nellie presents some of the new opportunities HTML5 gives to publishers, as well as the current state of feature implementation across ereading software and browsers.

View slides on idpf.org

Books Made Out of Science!

Nerd Nite Boston

Cambridge, MA, June 24, 2013

People like to read things on the Internet, but does that include books? For many years, publishing and the Web have been converging. Devices like Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad have helped to popularize ebooks as a legitimate reading format, but digital publishing is ready to level-up from its awkward adolescence and the Internet is the hormone injection we need to make that happen. Of course, there are challenges involved in publishing books on the Web, from both a technical and design standpoint. In this talk, Nellie looks at modern print book and ebook production workflows, the technology that drives book-making automation, the current state of ebook reading and design, and where we're heading for the future.

View slides/outline on GitHub

Show, Don't Tell

Fluent Conference 2013

San Francisco, CA, May 29, 2013

In this keynote, Nellie McKesson and Chris Wilson talk about how Web technology is driving the evolution of reading and writing, and what O'Reilly is doing about it.

Play Watch on O'Reilly Atlas

The Web Ahead: eBooks

The Web Ahead Podcast with Jen Simmons

April 24, 2013

Electronic book formats are changing. EPUB3 and HTML5 are providing tools to create new forms of books, with richer experiences. Nellie McKesson joins Jen Simmons to explain where digital books have been, and where they are going.

Play Listen on the 5by5 Site

CSS 3 (and HTML) for Publishers

Tools of Change 2013

New York, NY, USA, February 12, 2013

CSS3's new Paged Media spec provides us with a set of tools to craft all book formats - including print - from the same HTML source, establishing a fresh, flexible, and attainable route to single-source publishing. In this 90-minute workshop-style presentation, I shared technical details, workflow suggestions, and prerequisites for implementing an HTML/CSS book-making toolchain in any organization, and introduced the CSS 3 paged media spec along with practical examples.

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The Content Creator's Dilemma

Monktoberfest 2012

Portland, ME, USA, October 4, 2012

Following Laurel Ruma's discussion of DRM as a handicap for publishers, I discuss the importance of open publishing and community-driven content development within a growing Web-based ecosystem.

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Publishing with iBooks Author

ifbookthen Summer Edition 2012

Milan, Italy, July 6, 2012

This 3-hour workshop walked members of various parts of higher education and publishing through the basics of iBooks Author, from creating a new project to distributing the final book to the iBooks Store.

iBooks Author as a Publishing Platform

ifbookthen Summer Edition 2012

Milan, Italy, July 5, 2012

iBooks Author was the first publishing tool of it's kind: a fully WYSIWYG tool to create beautiful, interactive eBooks targeted at different reading styles. However, it exists behind the walls of Apple's closed economy, and doesn't fit well into a scalable multi-format publishing model. In this short talk I discuss the logic behind Apple's new tool, how it fits into the current eBook ecosystem, and the pros and cons for using it in the educational publishing industry.