Crowbook User Guide 0.15.0

« 1. Crowbook

Chapter 2

Crowbook can take a number of arguments, generally in the form:

crowbook [OPTIONS] [BOOK]

The most important argument is obviously the book configuration file. It is mandatory in most cases: if you don’t pass it, crowbook will simply display an error. In a normal use case this is the only argument you’ll need to pass, as most options will be set in this configuration file.

It is, however, possible to pass more arguments to crowbook:


crowbook [BOOK] --create ...


crowbook [BOOK] -c ...

Creates a new book from a list of Markdown files. It will generate a book configuration file with all file names specified as chapters. It either prints the result to stdout (if BOOK is not specified) or generates the file BOOK (or abort if it already exists).

crowbook --create

will thus generate a file containing:

author: Your name
title: Your title
lang: en

## Output formats

# Uncomment and fill to generate files
# output.html: some_file.html
# output.epub: some_file.epub
# output.pdf: some_file.pdf

# Or uncomment the following to generate PDF, HTML and EPUB files based on this file's name
# output: [pdf, epub, html]

# Uncomment and fill to set cover image (for EPUB)
# cover: some_cover.png

## List of chapters


crowbook --create

will print the same result, but to stdout (without creating a file).


crowbook --single <FILE>


crowbook -s <FILE>

This argument allows you to give crowbook a single Markdown file. This file can contain an inline YAML block to set some book options. Inline YAML blocks must start and end with a line containing only --- (three dashes).


author: Joan Doe
title: A short story
output: [html, epub, pdf]

Content of the story in Markdown.

If this YAML block is not at the beginning of a file, it must also be preceded by a blank line.

This allows to not have to write a .book configuration file for a short story or an article. crowbook -s is rougly equivalent to having a book configuration file containing:


That is, the chapter heading (if any) won’t be displayed in the output documents (though they still appear in the TOC).

Note that by default, using --single or -s sets the default LaTeX class of the book to article instead of book.


crowbook <BOOK> --set [KEY] [VALUE]...

This argument takes a list of KEY VALUE pairs and allows setting or overriding a book configuration option. All valid options in the configuration files are valid as keys. For more information, see the configuration file.

$ crowbook --set tex.paper.size a4paper

will override the paper size for PDF generation.


crowbook --list-options


crowbook -l

Displays all the valid options that can be used, whether in a book configuration file, with --set, or in an inline YAML block.


crowbook --print-template <TEMPLATE>

Prints the built-in template to stdout. Useful if you want to customize the appearance of your document.

E.g., if you want to modify the CSS used for HTML rendering:

$ crowbook --print-template html.css > my_style.css
# edit my_style.css in your favourite editor
$ crowbook --set html.css my_style.css
# or add "html.css: my_style.css" in


crowbook --stats <BOOK>


crowbook -S <BOOK>

Display some statistics (word and character counts) about the book.


crowbook --proofread <BOOK>


crowbook -p <BOOK>

Equivalent to --set proofread true, enables proofreading. See Proofreading.


crowbook --autograph <BOOK>


crowbook -a <BOOK>

Prompts for a an autograph execution. This is a Markdown block that will be inserted at the beginning of the book.

$ crowbook --autograph
Enter autograph:
To my dear friend John,

Cheers, *Joan*

will add the block of text that was entered to all output files.


crowbook <BOOK> --verbose

If this flag is set, Crowbook will print more warnings it detects while parsing and rendering.


crowbook <BOOK> --to [FORMAT]


crowbook <BOOK> -t [FORMAT]

Generate only the specified format. FORMAT must be either epub, pdf, html, html.dir, odt or tex.

If an output file for the format is not specified in the book configuration file, crowbook will fail to render PDF, ODT and EPUB, whereas it will print HTML and TeX files on stdout. It is, however, possible to specify a file with the --output option.

crowbook --to html

will generate some HTML, and prints it either to the file specified by output.html in, or to stdout if it is not specified.

crowbook --to pdf --output foo.pdf

will generate a foo.pdf file.


crowbook <BOOK> --to <FORMAT> --output <FILE>


crowbook -t <FORMAT> -o <FILE> <BOOK>

Specifies an output file. Only valid when --to is used.


crowbook --lang <LANG>


crowbook -L <LANG>

Set the runtime language used by Crowbook. Currently, only a french translation is available. By default, Crowbook uses the LANG environment variable to determine which language to use, but this option allows to override it (e.g. for operating systems that don’t use such an option, such as Windows).

$ crowbook --lang fr --help

will display Crowbook’s help message in french.

Note that this argument has nothing to do with the lang option that you can set in the book configuration file, which specifies the language of the book. This argument specifies the language of the text messages that Crowbook will display while running, but has no effect on the generated documents.

3. The configuration file »