Editors' Rating:
Average User Rating:
out of 9 votes
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Quick Specs

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Date Added:
February 26, 2012
Operating Systems:
Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
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Additional Requirements:
Not available

Editors' review

WYSIWYG stands for "what you see is what you get," and it's been a computer term since it made the jump from TV catchphrase in the 1970s. A WYSIWYG editor lets you edit e-books in something as close as possible to their final form, which greatly improves not only editing accuracy but also the appearance and presentation of the text. It's critical for readability in both traditional and electronic publishing formats. We looked at Sigil, a free, open-source, multiplatform e-book editor that is designed to edit ePub documents such as e-books. Sigil offers full Unicode support and full EPUB specification support. An extensive users' manual and blog provide help and tips.

Sigil's installer let us associate the program with EPUB, TXT, and HTML files. The program's user interface is nicely designed and rendered, with attractive and colorful icons on a browserlike toolbar that offers a nice break from the hieroglyphics of typical editing toolbars.

The main view is divided vertically between three resizable panels: a Book Browser on the left, a tabbed document view in the middle, and a Table of Contents panel on the right -- a logical layout that we could augment with an optional Validation Results panel along the window's bottom edge. But we could also drag views out of Sigil's interface and place them independently, as well as rearrange the program's panels simply by dragging and dropping them into place.

We were able to start typing right away in the blank XHTML document in Sigil's main Book View. The toolbar handles formatting and also offers Undo and Redo. The Book Browser's tree view showed not only our document in the Text folder but also other folders such as for Styles, Images, and Fonts. The Chapter Break and Insert Image tools save time while typing.

Sigil's many extras include the Cleaning with HTML Tidy, Check for Well-Formed Errors, and Validate ePub tools as well as the Split View, which splits the main window horizontally, displaying a file's Book View above and its Code View below. With Sigil, what you get is what you need.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
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    out of 9 votes

    • 5 star: 2
    • 4 star: 3
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 1
    • 1 star: 2
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    out of 3 votes

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  • 2 stars

    "Not a WYSIWYG editor, can wreck your document"

    June 05, 2013   |   By golden_oldie

    Version: Sigil 0.7.2


    1) OK editor if you don't mind editing html code.
    2) full range of editing facilities, most of which work.
    3) Quite well supported with regular updates and active forum.
    4) css stylesheets work well.


    1) Contrary to most other reviewers, this is not a WYSIWYG editor. That is, you can only see what your document will look like, not change it whilst looking at it. All editing is done in html view or using css stylesheets. This is a very serious drawback, breaking one of the most basic requirements of an editor - reliable display of the effects of edits.
    2) the default code checker is Tidy which, if in automatic mode, can completely wreck you document.
    3) sophisticated editing using the equivalent of macros is not easy in Sigil and the stupid syntax required will defeat most ordinary users. Earlier versions supported WYSIWYG editing and provided menus and intuitive syntax for quite complex edits. These were claimed to be unstable and have now gone.


    Not being able to edit the document and see the changes as they will appear is a very serious problem for those not wishing to work with html code. But my main problem is the use of Tidy to check the underlying html. This program is truly dreadful, having an automatic mode that will arbitrarily truncate your document without warning, and without first backing up your original. Tidy is not even an adequate html checker. Since you can't edit your document as you wish it to be seen, it is very easy to make mistakes and have them compounded with Tidy.

    Sigil is essentially a geeky editor that most people who simply want to reformat/refine their e-documents will find very frustrating to use. If, like me, they ended up losing a week's work, which took even longer to recreate - they might be rather angry! The problems with Sigil are very easy to fix, mainly requiring a generational backup procedure and a bit of thought about what people using editors really want. Unfortunately, the authors seem more interested in irrelevant tweaks than the fundamentals. As one other dissatisfied reviewer said, you get what you pay for, and Sigil is free.

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