In the Electric Book workflow, a translation is a subfolder of the original book. Text files go into a subfolder of /text, e.g. /text/fr. We recommend naming the translation folder with the language code, but that’s not required.

This structure assumes that the translation and its parent will be kept in sync for the most part, the translation always being a faithful reproduction of the parent; but this isn’t required. A translation can be quite different to its parent.

Translations vs adaptations

If the translating team works independently, and especially if they want to make content changes that diverge from the parent, their translation is actually an adaptation. For instance, adding a new image or page-design feature, or changing design elements like fonts and colours.

An adaptation could be a completely separate repository, which starts out as copy of the parent project, but from that point on is treated as a new project, overwriting the original files in the repository with the new language.

Setting up a translation

To make a translation:


The text files of each translation are saved in a text subdirectory. So all text files of a French translation live in book/fr/text, and all text files of a Xhosa translation in book/xh/text.

Styles, fonts and images

Translations inherit styles, fonts and images from the parent language, unless those folders exist in the translation directory.

This works well if your images contain no text, and all the images are the same in both the parent and translation languages.

If any images are different, then the translated images should also be saved in the translation images folder, e.g. book/fr/images/epub. This is most often the case, because cover images almost always need to be translated, and are therefore different.

When linking to images, remember to always use the `` tag in the path, e.g.:

![Dog chases bus](/dogbus.jpg)

The `` tag is smart enough to know the path to your images, whether you’re in a translation or an original language, and whether your images are the same as the original language or in a translated images subfolder.

This means that you can keep the same image filenames for translations, as long as they are in a translation subfolder.

You must also include the `

tag once earlier in each markdown file to load the book/images/web` tag, along with a range of other useful tags.


Each translation must be added to the meta.yml file. All translations are a subset of works, alongside work-level metadata like title. Within translations, you list each language. Each language inherits the parent language’s metadata unless overridden with its own metadata.

The translations node is equivalent to works, but for translations. The system knows a page is a translation if it’s in a book subdirectory listed in translations in meta.yml. For instance, for a French translation, with our translation files saved in book/fr/, we would say:

      directory: fr
      language: fr

If our translation files are in book/francais, in meta.yml we would say:

      directory: francais
      language: fr

Here is an example of the translation section of the meta.yml file that includes translations into Xhosa and French. Note how the translations can, but don’t have to, include their own work-level metadata. Where it is included, it overrides the parent language’s metadata. This means each translation can even have its own files list.

        directory: xh
        language: xh
        title: Title in Xhosa
            date: "2016-05-07"
            format: "Digital download"
            identifier: "" # e.g. ISBN or UUID
            image: "cover.jpg"
              - "0-0-cover"
              - "0-1-titlepage"
              - "0-2-copyright"
              - "0-3-contents"
              - "01"
              - "02"
              - "03"
        directory: fr
        language: fr
        title: Title in French

Epub-specific languages

In some situations, you might want the language set in your epub’s Dublin Core OPF metadata (dc:language) to be different to the language of the translation. For instance, Kindlegen will not convert epubs in languages it does not recognise. In this situation, you might need to set the epub’s Dublin Core language tag to, say, English, even though your epub’s content files are still in, say, Asanti Twi.

To set this, add a language to the epub section of your translation:

  - directory: "potatoes"
      - directory: "twi"
        language: "twi"
            language: "en"


The translate things like the navigation button and contact form, edit _data/locales.yml.