Building and publishing your book

Once you’ve added content and configured your book, it’s time to build the raw material that Jekyll will use to turn your book into a website. We’ll also cover how to turn this book into the HTML for a website that can be served online.

Build the book’s markdown

Now that you’ve got the files installed content is in the book, you can build your book.

Build your book by running the following command:

jupyter-book build mybookname/

This will:

  • Use the links specified in the _data/toc.yml file (pointing to files in /content/) and do the following:
    • Run nbconvert to turn the .ipynb files into markdown
    • Replace relative image file paths so that they work on your new built site
    • Clean up formatting issues for things like MathJax to display properly
    • Place all these generated files in the mybookname/_build/ directory.

Note that jupyter-book will automatically update any files in _build/ that are older than the timestamp of the corresponding file in your content/ folder.

From here, you have two options

  1. Option 1: GitHub builds the site for you:

    By default, pushing a repository cloned from Jupyter Book will tell GitHub to use Jekyll to build the repository when you push changes (your repository is configured properly on GitHub). Simply tell GitHub to build a site from your repo, then push the changes to your GitHub repo and that’s it!

  2. Option 2: Build your site’s HTML locally:

    Building your book’s site locally lets you preview your book locally before you push it online. It also gives you a bit more functionality than using GitHub Pages to build your book. However, it also requires you to install Docker or Singularity (containerization platforms) or Ruby (an open source programming language). If you’d like to build your site locally then jump to the next section.

Build the book’s site HTML locally

Once you’ve generated the markdown for your notebooks and installed the necessary dependencies. You are ready to build your site HTML.

Ensure that your notebooks have been converted to markdown, there should be a collection of them in _build/.

In order to locally build your site’s HTML with Jekyll, you’ll need to either install a container software (Docker or Singularity) or Ruby.

In our experience, we’ve found that containers provide an easier installation for most systems. If you are developing on a system where you have administrator privileges (i.e., you have root permissions), we recommend you use Docker.

We also provide instructions for using Singularity, an alternate containerization software for systems where you do not have administrator privileges. To learn more about using containers, please see the Docker for scientists guide.

Building your site locally with Containers: Docker

First, you’ll need to make sure you have Docker installed. There are installation instructions for each operating system to guide you through this process.

Once Docker is available on your system, you can build the image locally with:

docker pull emdupre/jupyter-book

You can then access this image with the following command. Make sure to specify the full path to your Jupyter Book, rather than the relative path!

docker run --rm --security-opt label:disable  \
   -v /full/path/to/your/book:/srv/jekyll \
   -p 4000:4000 \
   -it -u 1000:1000 \
   emdupre/jupyter-book bundle exec jekyll serve --host

If you navigate to in your browser, you should see a preview copy of your book. If you instead see an error, please try to update your local book; see the Jupyter Book FAQ section for more details on how to do so.

Building your site locally with Containers: Singularity

If you are on a system where you do not have administrator privileges (such as a shared computing cluster), you will not be able to use Docker. Instead, you can use Singularity. First, you’ll need to check with your resource manager that Singularity is available on your system.

You can then create a Jupyter Book Singularity image using:

singularity build jupyter-book.simg docker://emdupre/jupyter-book

Next, you can access this image with the following command. Make sure to specify the full path to your Jupyter Book, rather than the relative path!

singularity run -B /full/path/to/your/book:/srv/jekyll \
    --pwd /srv/jekyll \
    jupyter-book.simg bundle exec jekyll serve

And that’s it! If you navigate to in your browser, you should see a preview copy of your book.

Building your site locally with Ruby

You can also choose to build your site locally without a container. In this case, you’ll need Ruby, an open-source programming language, to build your site’s HTML with Jekyll. The easiest way to install Ruby on nix systems is to use the *conda package manager:

conda install -c conda-forge ruby

Once you have Ruby installed, the conda-built clang compiler for your system need to be installed. Details depend on your OS.


Two steps are needed on OSX. First, install the conda’s clang compiler:

conda install -c conda-forge clangxx_osx-64

If you are running OSX 10.14 (Mojave) you also need to install system libraries in the default *nix locations by running

open /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg

On Linux

Install conda’s clang compiler:

conda install -c conda-forge gxx_linux-64

Install Ruby plugins

Finally, run

make install

which will install Bundler (a Ruby dependency management tool) and then install the plugins needed to build the site for your book.

You can then build the site locally by running:

make site

Alternatively, you can preview your book’s site locally by running this command:

make serve

This should open up a port on your computer with a live version of the book.

When should you build the HTML locally?

You might ask: if GitHub pages can build my site automatically from the markdown files, why build it locally? The main reason for this is that you get more flexibility by building locally and serving raw HTML, as opposed to auto-building the site with GitHub-pages.

In particular, if you wish to use any extra Jekyll plugins, such as the jekyll-scholar plugin that enables you to add citations and bibliographies, then you need to build your site locally as HTML. GitHub-pages doesn’t let you enable any extra plugins if it auto-builds your site.

Create an online repository for your book

You’ve created your book on your own computer, but you haven’t yet added it online. This section covers the steps to create your own GitHub repository, and to add your book’s content to it.

  1. First, log-in to GitHub, then go to the “create a new repository” page:

  1. Next, add a name and description for your book. You can choose whatever initialization you’d like.

  2. Now, clone the empty repository to your computer:

    git clone<my-org>/<my-book-name>
  3. Copy all of your book files and folders (what was created when you ran jupyter-book create mybook) into the new repository. For example, if you created your book locally with jupyter-book create mylocalbook and your online repository is called myonlinebook, the command would be:

    cp -r mylocalbook/* myonlinebook/

    This will copy over the local book files into the online book folder.

  4. Commit the new files to the repository in myonlinebook/:

    cd myonlinebook
    git add ./*
    git commit -m "adding my first book!"
    git push

That’s it!

Publish your book online with GitHub Pages

Once you’ve built the markdown for your book (in _build) or built the HTML for your book (in _site), you can push your book contents to GitHub so that others can access your book. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Confirm that your site files are built. You should see a collection of markdown files/folders in the _build folder, or a collection of HTML in your _site/ folder.
  2. Commit and push the changes to your repository.
  3. Enable GitHub site building for your repository.

    From your GitHub repository, click Settings then scroll down to the GitHub Pages section. You should see the message Your site is published at <YOUR-URL>. Ensure that you’re building from the correct folder.

  4. Go to the URL listed at <YOUR-URL> and you should see your live site.