GitHub Pages and Actions

Once your content is on GitHub, you can easily host it as a GitHub Pages website. This is a service where GitHub hosts your static files as if they were a standalone website.

There are two ways you can quickly host your book with GitHub Pages:

  • Push your book’s HTML to a branch that is hosted by GitHub Pages.

  • Use a GitHub Action to automatically build your book and update your website when you change the content.

Push your book to a branch hosted by GitHub Pages

The easiest way to use GitHub Pages with your built HTML is to use the ghp-import package. ghp-import is a lightweight Python package that makes it easy to push HTML content to a GitHub repository.

ghp-import works by copying all of the contents of your built book (i.e., the _build/html folder) to a branch of your repository called gh-pages, and pushes it to GitHub. The gh-pages branch will be created and populated automatically for you by ghp-import. To use ghp-import to host your book online with GitHub Pages follow the steps below:


Before performing the below steps, ensure that HTML has been built for each page of your book (see the previous section). There should be a collection of HTML files in your book’s _build/html folder.

  1. Install ghp-import

    pip install ghp-import
  2. Update the settings for your GitHub pages site:

    a. Use the gh-pages branch to host your website.

    b. Choose root directory / if you’re building the book in it’s own repository. Choose /docs directory if you’re building documentation with jupyter-book.

  3. From the master branch of your book’s root directory (which should contain the _build/html folder) call ghp-import and point it to your HTML files, like so:

    ghp-import -n -p -f _build/html


Make sure that you included the -n - this tells GitHub not to build your book with Jekyll, which we don’t want because our HTML is already built!

Typically after a few minutes your site should be viewable online at a url such as: https://<user><myonlinebook>/. If not, check your repository settings under Options -> GitHub Pages to ensure that the gh-pages branch is configured as the build source for GitHub Pages and/or to find the url address GitHub is building for you.

To update your online book, you would simply make changes to your book’s content on the master branch of your repository, re-build your book with jupyter-book build mybookname/ and then use ghp-import -n -p -f mylocalbook/_build/html as before to push the newly built HTML to the gh-pages branch.


Note this warning from the ghp-import GitHub repository:

“…ghp-import will DESTROY your gh-pages branch… and assumes that the gh-pages branch is 100% derivative. You should never edit files in your gh-pages branch by hand if you’re using this script…

Automatically host your book with GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is a tool that allows you to automate things on GitHub. It is used for a variety of things, such as testing, publishing packages and continuous integration.

Note that if you’re not hosting your book on GitHub, or if you’d like another, user-friendly service to build it automatically, see the guide to publishing your book on Netlify.


You should be familiar with GitHub Actions before using them to automatically host your Jupyter Books. See the GitHub Actions documentation for more information.

To build your book with GitHub Actions, you’ll need to create an action that does the following things:

  • Activates when a push event happens on master (or whichever) branch has your latest book content.

  • Installs Jupyter Book and any dependencies needed to build your book.

  • Builds your book’s HTML.

  • Uses a gh-pages action to upload that HTML to your gh-pages branch.

For reference, here is a sample repository that builds a book with GitHub Actions.


Ensure that Jupyter Book’s version in your requirements.txt file is at least 0.7.0.


You can use the Jupyter Book cookiecutter to quickly create a book template that already includes the GitHub Actions workflow file needed to automatically deploy your book to GitHub Pages:

jupyter-book create --cookiecutter mybookpath/

For more help, see the Jupyter Book cookiecutter GitHub repository, or run:

jupyter-book create --help

Here is a simple YAML configuration for a Github Action that will publish your book to a gh-pages branch.

name: deploy-book

# Only run this when the master branch changes
    - master
    # If your git repository has the Jupyter Book within some-subfolder next to
    # unrelated files, you can make this run only if a file within that specific
    # folder has been modified.
    # paths:
    # - some-subfolder/**

# This job installs dependencies, build the book, and pushes it to `gh-pages`
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/checkout@v2

    # Install dependencies
    - name: Set up Python 3.7
      uses: actions/setup-python@v1
        python-version: 3.7

    - name: Install dependencies
      run: |
        pip install -r requirements.txt

    # Build the book
    - name: Build the book
      run: |
        jupyter-book build .

    # Push the book's HTML to github-pages
    - name: GitHub Pages action
      uses: peaceiris/actions-gh-pages@v3.6.1
        github_token: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
        publish_dir: ./_build/html

If you want to deploy your site to GitHub Pages at a User and Organization repository (<username>, check another example workflow and available options at the README of peaceiris/actions-gh-pages.