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Plain Text Files in the Dunyazad Digital Library

I provide the plain text versions of the Dunyazad Library books for four reasons:

– it is the most widely compatible digital format, now and in all the foreseeable future;

– you can, at least in principle, convert it to any e-book format there is or ever will be;

– it allows you to perform complex search operations, using regular expressions, that are usually not supported by e-book readers;

– using this format, you can relatively easily convert your own plain text files to the e-book format of your choice (see below).

The Dunyazad Plain Text Format

I use a tagged text format which is deliberately kept very simple – for lack of a better name, let’s call it Dunyazad Text Format. It is not a markup language, and it is not intended to support typographical or layout niceties – its main purpose is to be readable “as is” in plain text, without demanding any learning from the reader, but it provides some essential formatting options that work for simply structured text as will usually be found in fiction.

A line of text is a paragraph.

A blank line is a blank line.

A line consisting only of one ~ character, or one asterisk * or three asterisks separated by single spaces * * * is a scene break.

» This is a heading level 1.

»» This is a heading level 2.

»»» This is a heading level 3.

The first line is the title, it has to be a level 1 heading.

Level 1 headings (except for the title) are preceded by two blank lines and followed by one blank line.

Level 2 and 3 headings are preceded by single blank lines.

A line before the first blank line that begins with "by" (case sensitive, followed by a space) contains the name of the author.

Spaces at the beginnings of lines specify “poem” or “blockquote” paragraph styles.

2 spaces: “poem” line

4 spaces: “blockquote” line

5 spaces: “poem” line indented

7 spaces: “blockquote” line indented

8 spaces: “poem” line double indented

Poems and blockquotes are preceded and followed by one blank line.

The underscore character toggles normal/ialic text. Line (paragraph) ends do not reset italic to normal!

Footnote references are enclosed in curly brackets { }.

Footnotes are enclosed in curly brackets, beginning with the reference number or symbol followed by a colon and a space. A footnote may have several paragraphs.

Footnotes immediately follow the paragraph in which they are referenced, or, in the case of poetry, the poem.

Character set

The character set that I use is Windows 1252. Unless the text contains non-standard (e.g. German, French or Spanish) characters, only four symbols are used that are not also part of the standard ISO-8859-1 character set: typographic quotation marks and apostrophes. If your system does not display these characters correctly, you can easily replace them using any text editor.

For better compatibility and for better readability with monospaced fonts, M-dashes are represented as double hyphens, and ellipses as three dots. If your system supports Windows 1252, and you read plain text files with a proportional font, you can easily convert ... and -- back to the typographically correct symbols.

Symbols outside the scope of Windows 1252 are replaced by standard Latin characters. Text in non-Latin alphabets (e.g. Greek) is lost, as are illustrations, and some typographical or layout details.

Converting to HTML

The tool to convert Dunyazad Text files to HTML, from where they can be converted to ePub, is currently not avaialable for download. If you are interested, let me know.

Feel free to contact me with any question, suggestion or comment you may have.


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