How to: Turn Web Pages into PDFs and EPUBs on the iPad

A photo of my iPad

A photo of my iPad

Looking for a Simpler Way to Do Things

I frequently find myself wanting, or needing, to turn webpages into PDFs for use in my classrooms as supplemental materials. Whether it is an article to use as an example of literary analysis in my English classes, orĀ  a sports article to use as an example of sports writing in my journalism classes, the need to convert an article on a website into a form my students can access on their iPads is something I deal with several times during a week.

Up until recently, converting web pages into PDFs for my students meant copying the text from the website, pasting it into Microsoft Word on my laptop, printing as a PDF file, then emailing the file to the students. Granted, that isn’t too bad as long as you have some software on the laptop that allows for printing to PDF from Microsoft Word. But, giving in to human nature, I was always on the lookout for something simpler.

In this case I was looking for something that would let me make PDFs on the iPad so that I wouldn’t have to switch to my laptop. I also wanted to cut down on having to switch between apps on the iPad when making PDFs there. Sure, you can use Pages to make a PDF, but you have to email the file in order to do it. I definitely don’t like having to email something to myself and then open it in something else just to use it.

2 Simpler Ways

Enter dotEPUP and Joliprint. These 2 solutions to my PDF creation quest are pretty simple to use and they aren’t even downloadable apps. They are both web based services usuable on the iPAd that convert web pages into a format you can then access on the iPad. They also have the added benefit of being free. All you have to do to use them on the iPad is set up a bookmarklet you press to convert the webpage you are viewing.

The main difference between dotEPUP and Joliprint is that dotEPUP converts the webpage into a EPUB for reading in iBooks or a MOBI file for reading in Kindle. Joliprint converts the webpage into a PDF file you can open is apps like Goodreader or Notability (just to name a couple). Joliprint also lets you collect webpages and then create a digital magazine (you have to create a free account to do this).

The steps to set up dotEPUP and Joliprint bookmarklets are basically the same:

  1. Go the the service’s site
  2. Create a bookmark in Safari
  3. Save the bookmark
  4. Edit the book mark by replacing the url address with a bit of javascript you copy from each service’s setup guide(Joliprint’s Guide, dotEPUB’s Guide
  5. Save
  6. Whenever you visit a site you want to convert to a PDF or EPUB, just click on the bookmarklet for dotEPUB or Joliprint

So, now you can easily convert any web page when you are using Safari on the iPad. Both methods send the converted webpage to the app of your choice for viewing. The benefit of using a PDF is that you can annotate it if you have an app that supports that function. Using either the EPUB or MOBI format means you can use the highlight and note funtions in iBooks and Kindle. I will admit that of the two, dotEPUP is faster and easier to use. When using Joliprint you have to hit a download button to finish the conversion process.

In my experience so far, using either of these two methods for converting webpages seems to save time. Not having to jump back and forth between my laptop and iPadĀ  is well worth the 5 minutes it takes to set up both of the bookmarklets.

How do you use PDFs or EPUBS in your classroom? What tips do you have for creating PDFs or EPUBS on the iPad? Please feel free leave advice or ideas in the comment section.