Guide: Create your open textbook!

Do you want to publish an open textbook within higher education? The Towards digital (open) educational resources zone developed a guide for creating an open textbook. It contains good practices and instructions for and expertise on publishing open textbooks.


Using a project-based approach, this open textbook is set up as a step-by-step plan. We aim to present a clear approach by addressing 2 types of target groups through different versions:

  • For support staff: a comprehensive roadmap of all the steps that supporters go through.
  • For authors: a summary of the steps, intended as an overview for authors.

For each step, it is indicated whether it is a necessary or optional step. Necessary steps are important for creating for all open textbooks. Optional steps depend on the institution(s) involved and the wishes and choices of the author(s). 

The sequence of steps is interrupted by arrows. The steps between the arrows can be performed simultaneously, regardless of the chronological order.

Guide for support staff

In this book, the word ‘textbook’ means a book that is used for study purposes. We have chosen to use the term ‘open textbook’ as this is now a well-known concept in online education.

Open textbook
An open textbook is a textbook that is published online and that is free to download, share, adopt and adapt, according to the user’s preferences. An open textbook is published under a digital licence that describes under which conditions the book may be used.

Commercial textbook
A commercial textbook is a textbook that is published by a publishing company with a commercial interest in selling textbooks.

The author is the writer of the open textbook, and is usually a lecturer. We have therefore chosen to use the terms ‘author’ and ‘lecturer’ interchangeably when talking about the writer or writers of the book. The author is responsible for the educational value and level of the book.

Support staff
Various forms of support are involved in creating an open textbook, for example: checking copyright, searching for alternative open source images, making illustrations and designs, attaching metadata and supporting the publishing process. Some of these tasks are carried out by library staff or educational specialists, but other support staff are often involved in open textbook projects such as student assistants, reviewers and external professionals.

The term ‘content’ includes all of the materials in the textbook, so the text, images, video material and exercises, but also the front and back matter: the title page, the description of the author, the bibliography, the glossary, and so on.

Download guide for support staff

Download guide for authors

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