Converting PDF to Epub (Mobi) format, the best method/result so far

I have tried a dozen of methods to convert my PDF books to EPub format; Most of the time, the result is frustrating. Numbering, page setup, footnotes, headers, pictures  all get messy in the result.

But, now, for the first time, after a desperate digging,  I am getting satisfactory results. That is the good new. I am going to tell you how to do it.

First, the necessary tools (The first three are the most popular ones in the ebook world.) with their strengths and weakness in short.

1. Calibere is the best tool to manage books. But, the conversion is so bad. So, use it to manage and view your ebooks. But, avoid converting pdf in it.

2. Mobipocket Creater. This is good for converting html to prc. PRC format can be opened in Kindle (app). But, it can not convert to epub format.

3. Sigil: this is wonderful tool to edit and convert texts (including html) to epub. it can not import PDF.

Finally, the most powerful software to convert PDFs into Epub, though few people ever know its function for ebook conversion;

4. ABBYY Finereader 11. This is the most effective tool I have ever tried to convert PDF (picture) files to other formats (texts such as html, word etc). The result is so shinning.  The new version (v. 11)   also natively supports conversion to Epub.

So, the first thing to do is to import your PDF file to ABBYY Finereader11. You will get every kind of text format out of it including html and epub.  You can spell-check it, edit the font, page setup. Almost everything that Sigil can do. The best of all,  ABBYY can remove headers and footnotes (this had been a pain in my ass when I was using Adobe pro to convert PDF to html).  The only weakness of the ABBYY Finereader is on the Table of Contents. It can not generate Toc  in the epub format. So, to solve this problem (to get Toc in my epub), I use the following two methods.

Two best ways to generate the Table of Contents

A. (recommended)  Convert the Pdf to html in Abby FineReader and then edit the html in Sigil by marking Headings; generate the TOc from the heads, and finally to Epub. Since this method gives the most accurate result for the Toc, one can implement it  in when one needs a detailed/best Toc; when when when the pdf doesn’t contain bookmarks. But this method could be  time consuming to mark every section and subsection as a Heading in Sigil.

B. Bookmark the Chapters (sections) of the PDF  before importing it to ABBYY in any pdf reader (foxit/adobe). The booksmarks then can  serve as Toc after cenversion in ABBYY. If you want to use the bookmakrs of the file as Toc, direct converstion to epub in ABBYY  cuts away sub-sections (only the main chapters, beginning from 2nd chapter appear in the epub). May be because of a little bug, only the main chapters/sections of the PDF beggining from Chapter/section 2 appear in the epub result. Therefore, if you want to get  all the detailed bookmarks of the PDF as contents in the epub, it is necessary to avoid direct converstion to Epub in ABBYY. Rather, convert the PDF   to html  (the bookmarks of the PDF come out as hyperlinks in the html) and then  import the html either into Sigil or Mobipocket Creater. In Sigil, directly converting the html to Epub gives the bookmarks keeps the hiperlinks of in the epub (The hyperlink can serve as Toc by choosing “go to start” in the Epub readers such as  Nook and  Kindle). To use the hyperliks of the html as Toc in Mobipocket Creater, you need to edit the html file in a text editor following  this  guide. Note that the result is of the Mobipocket Creater is prc. You can read the prc in Kindle, or futher convert it to epub.

->Mobi format can easily be generated from the epub, using Calibere.


26 thoughts on “Converting PDF to Epub (Mobi) format, the best method/result so far

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  1. I have a very large PDF with bookmarks that I converted to HTML using ABBYY. I then loaded this into Sigil and saved the file as an EPUB, but I have no TOC!

    Is there some step I’m missing?

    1. Aren’t you getting the bookmarks of the PDF as hyperlinks in your Epub?
      As I tried to explain in the B section above, you will not get a perfect Toc from the bookmarks (if you want a perfect Toc, edit the html in the Sigil, as explained in A section); but, you can use them as Toc by asking your reader (nook) to go to “start” of the book, (I am assuming that the bookmarks are inserted at the start of the book) and then use the hyperlinks to jump to a certain section in the book, just like Toc.

  2. Hi, Dellu, thanks for this very useful information. One little remark: that particular software is not called Calibere but calibre.

  3. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

    The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design look great though! Hope you get the issue
    fixed soon. Kudos

  4. Hi I am PHP Developer,
    I want to convert pdf file to epub file but some mathematical formula can’t convert properly.
    How can i convert pdf to epub properly.
    Please some one help me…
    Thank in advance………….

      1. The next step is to download the converted file. How did you fail to figure this out? I wonder how people like you manage to tie your shoe laces in the morning.

    1. I tried using this link to convert a PDF, but when attempting a conversion I got a sharp pain in my anus. Is there an alternative website that I can use to avoid this next time?

    2. only works as:”This is taking too long. I give up.”

      What is purpose of this “tool”? Only collecting information for Google-analytics?

  5. Here is a free ebook tool for you.

    You can easily convert your ebook from epub to pdf,epub to mobi, epub to kindle, etc.

    Free Online Converter / EPUB Converter

    It provides you with the best mobi to epub converting experience.

  6. Nothing can preserve toc/hyperlinks/pdf-bookmarks… while transforming pdf to epub.
    No software or web service can do it. I’ve tried all mentioned solutions, and it was such waste of time. Every method is worthless…
    It is unbelievable that publishers and software industry have not recognized popularity of epub, and they keep DRM as last defense. Epub could be a fine new market (and marketing channel too)! But only after spreading of usage…

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