This is a short overview of the major components and steps in building a Jupyter Book. See the other pages in this guide for more in-depth information.

The Jupyter Book command-line interface

Jupyter Book uses a command-line interface to perform a variety of actions. For example, building and cleaning books. You can run the following command to see what options are at your control:

jupyter-book --help
Usage: jupyter-book [OPTIONS] COMMAND [ARGS]...

  Build and manage books with Jupyter.

  --version   Show the version and exit.
  -h, --help  Show this message and exit.

  build   Convert your book's or page's content to HTML or a PDF.
  clean   Empty the _build directory except jupyter_cache.
  config  Inspect your _config.yml file.
  create  Create a Jupyter Book template that you can customize.
  myst    Manipulate MyST markdown files.
  toc     Generate a _toc.yml file for your content folder.

A note for Windows users

Jupyter Book is now also tested against Windows OS 😀

However, there is a known incompatibility for notebook execution when using Python 3.8.

See Working on Windows

For more complete information about the CLI, see The command-line interface.

The book building process

Building a Jupyter Book broadly consists of these steps:

  1. Put your book content in a folder or a file. See Anatomy of a Jupyter Book.

  2. Build your book. Using Jupyter Book’s command-line interface you can convert your pages into either an HTML or a PDF book. See Build your book.

  3. Host your book’s HTML online. Once your book’s HTML is built, you can host it online as a public website. See Publish your book online.

Anatomy of a Jupyter Book

There are three things that you need in order to build a Jupyter Book:

  • A configuration file (_config.yml)

  • A table of contents file (_toc.yml)

  • Your book’s content

For example, consider the following folder structure, which makes up a simple Jupyter Book.

├── _config.yml
├── _toc.yml
├── landing-page.md
└── page1.ipynb

We’ll cover each briefly below, and you can find more information about them elsewhere in this documentation.

Book configuration (_config.yml)

All of the configuration for your book is in a YAML file called _config.yml.

You can define metadata for your book (such as its title), add a book logo, turn on different “interactive” buttons (such as a Binder button for pages built from a Jupyter Notebook), and more.

Here’s an example of a simple _config.yml file:

# in _config.yml
title: "My book title"
logo: images/logo.png
  execute_notebooks: "off"
  • title: defines a title for the book. It will show up in the left sidebar.

  • logo: defines a path to an image file for your book’s logo (it will also show up in the sidebar).

  • execute: contains a collection of configuration options to control execution and cacheing.

    • execute_notebooks: "off" tells Jupyter Book not to execute any computational content that it finds when building the book. By default, Jupyter Book executes and caches all book content.

More about _config.yml

There is much more that you can do with the _config.yml file. For example, you can Add source repository buttons or add Interactive data visualizations. For a complete list of fields for _config.yml, see Configure book settings.

Table of Contents (_toc.yml)

Jupyter Book uses your Table of Contents to define the structure of your book. For example, your chapters, sub-chapters, etc.

This is a YAML file with a collection of pages, each one linking to a file in your book. Here’s an example of the two content files shown above.

# In _toc.yml
- file: landing-page
- file: page1

Each item in the _toc.yml file points to a single file. The links should be relative to your book’s folder and with no extension. Think of the top-most level of your TOC file as book chapters (excluding the landing page). The title of each chapter will be inferred from the title in your files.

The first file specifies the landing page of your book (in this case, it is a markdown file). The landing page is the highest page in your book’s content hierarchy. The second file specifies a content page of your book (in this case, it is a Jupyter Notebook).

More about _toc.yml

You can specify more complex book configurations with your _toc.yml file. For example, you can specify parts, sections, and control custom titles. For more information about your book’s table of contents file, see Table of contents structure.

Book content

A collection of text files make up your book’s content. These can be one of several types of files, such as markdown (.md), Jupyter Notebooks (.ipynb) or reStructuredText (.rst) files (see Types of content source files for a full list).

In the above example, there were two files listed: a markdown file and a Jupyter Notebook. Let’s look at the content of each:

This is the landing page of the book. Let’s take a look at some sample markdown text.

# My book title

Some intro text

## My book section

Here's a note!

That's it!

All content files must have a page title (specified as the first header). All subsequent headers must increase linearly (so no jumps from H1 to H3). See Rules for all content types for more rules that all content must adhere to.

Markdown files can contain either CommonMark markdown, or MyST Markdown (a super-set of CommonMark). The example above is written in MyST. It looks very similar to CommonMark, but has a {note} directive. The note will be rendered like so:


Here’s a note!

For more information about MyST markdown and all the things you can do with it, see MyST Markdown overview.

The other page in this book is a Jupyter Notebook. This means that the page has a combination of computational content and narrative conent. By default, when Jupyter Book builds your book, notebooks will be executed and their outputs cached. On subsequent builds, notebook pages will be re-executed only if their code has changed.

Any outputs generated by the notebook will be inserted into your built book (though they may not be in your input notebook). This way you do not need to store the notebook’s outputs with your repository. See Execute and cache your pages for more information.

There are many other interesting things that you can do with notebook content as a part of your book. We recommend checking out Formatting code outputs as well as Interactive data visualizations to get started with Jupyter notebooks.

More about writing content files

This is only a simple example, and touches on just a couple of the many ways that you can configure and structure your book. For more information about this, see Types of content source files as well as Special content blocks.

Create a template book

Jupyter-Book comes with a demo book so that you can see how the content files are used in the book. This section goes through the process of creating a template book and building it as an alternative to manually creating the files in the sections above.

To see your options for creating books from templates, run the following command:

jupyter-book create --help
Usage: jupyter-book create [OPTIONS] PATH_BOOK

  Create a Jupyter Book template that you can customize.

  --cookiecutter  Use cookiecutter to interactively create a Jupyter Book

  -h, --help      Show this message and exit.

Quickly generate a sample book

This option is best if you are starting from scratch, or would like to see one example of a simple Jupyter Book on your own filesystem.

If you’d just like to quickly create a sample book, you may do so by running the following command:

jupyter-book create mynewbook/

This will generate a mini Jupyter Book that you can both build and explore locally. It will have a few decisions made for you, and you can explore the configuration of the book in _config.yml and its structure in _toc.yml. Use this book as inspiration, or as a starting point to work from.

Generate a templatized book from interactive prompts

This option is best if you’d like to answer a few questions from the command line in order to create a template book that is more complex and customized for your use-case.

Jupyter Book also provides a Jupyter Book cookiecutter that can be used to interactively create a book directory structure.

The cookiecutter is suitable for users that want to create a ready-to-go repository to host their book that includes pre-populated metafiles such as README, LICENSE, CONDUCT, CONTRIBUTING, etc., as well as GitHub Actions workflow files to Automatically host your book with GitHub Actions.

To try the cookiecutter template, run the following command:

jupyter-book create mynewbook/ --cookiecutter

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

Next step: build your book

Now that you’ve got a Jupyter Book folder structure, you can create the HTML (or PDF) for each of your book’s pages. That’s covered in the next section.