D Publishing with Bookdown

This open-access book is built with free-to-use, open-source tools—primarily Bookdown, GitHub, and Zotero—and this chapter explains how, so that readers may do it themselves and share their knowledge to improve the process. In addition to our notes below, see also Yihui Xie’s more comprehensive Bookdown guide.53

Our broad goal is an efficient workflow to compose one document in the easy-to-write Markdown format that Bookdown generates into multiple book products: an HTML web edition to read online, a PDF print edition for traditional book publishing, a Microsoft Word edition for editors who request it for copyediting, and option for other formats as desired.

Since Bookdown is an R code package, we composed the book manuscript in R-flavored Markdown, with one file (.Rmd) for each chapter. We use Bookdown to build these files in its GitBook style as a set of static HTML pages, which we upload to our GitHub repository. Readers can view the open-access web edition of the book at our custom domain: https://HandsOnDataViz. Also, we use Bookdown to build additional book outputs (PDF, MS Word, Markdown) and upload these to the docs folder of our GitHub repository, so that our O’Reilly Media editor may download and comment on the manuscript as we revise. Finally, we have arranged with the O’Reilly production team to convert our modified version of the full-book Markdown file into their O’Reilly Atlas platform. See some caveats and workarounds below.


  1. Yihui Xie, Bookdown: Authoring Books and Technical Documents with R Markdown, 2018, https://bookdown.org/yihui/bookdown/↩︎