Rendering Beautiful PDF Documents with Calibre

The free software Calibre allows to convert various ebook formats (such as EPUB and MOBI) into PDF documents.

Unfortunately, the default settings of Calibre do not result in the creation of easily readable documents.

Thus, I have provided here some sample settings for a nice looking PDF output for Calibre:

  • First, import the book you would like to convert to Calibre. For this, just drag and drop the file from your file browser onto the Calibre screen.
  • Right click the book and select the option Convert Books / Convert Individually


  • Change the output to PDF on the top right corner of the screen
  • Go the the page ‘Page Setup’ and change all margins to 75 pt.


  •  Go the the Page ‘PDF Output’ and set the following settings:


Now you can start the conversion. Right click the book after the conversion has completed and select ‘Open containing folder’ to access the converted PDF file.


  • For some PDFs you have to set “Embed font family” under “Look & feel” for these instructions to work (Thanks, Nick!)

39 thoughts on “Rendering Beautiful PDF Documents with Calibre

  1. I have used a similar setting for a long time, but I found that you couldn’t search in the converted PDF, and the text couldn’t been copied. Do you know how to solve this problem?

      1. Max, your process turned out a beautiful PDF and I was thrilled, I am an UX designer, Calibre’s interface is a nightmare. Sadly, I too ended up with a PDF that cannot be searched. I am using version 3.20.0. Downloading the newest version. but I have feeling it too will be unsearchable. I am a researcher writing a book, I need to be able to search an entire archive of PDFs, books and papers, going in and out of EPUB readers is not cutting it.

        Thank you.

      2. Me again. I wanted to followup after installing the newest version of Calibre, version 3.32.0. The same result as before, unsearchable. One of the first clues is that you can go anywhere in the body text of the PDF and double click a word, it will not select the entire word, just a single letter. Picking a unique enough word that you can see and searching for it will render ‘no results.’ Your tips do make a beautiful PDF, a dead ringer for the EPUB original. So close and yet so far away. I am at my wits end.

      3. Sorry for the extra posts, I should mention that IU am on a Mac running OS X Sierra and I am using Preview to read the PDFs.

  2. Hello,

    On the page setup page… Do I leave the default or do I change it to the device Im using (in my case, an iPad)?
    On the pdf output page… Can I use Helvetica Neue instead of the Calibri when selecting Serif and Sans family?
    On the pdf output page… Should I select the “Override paper size set in output” box on top?

    Thank you,

    1. Thank you. This worked perfectly – looks great in iBooks, Kindle reader app and of course in Adobe reader.
      I have a question about keeping a watermark. Can calibre be set to keep the watermark set in a .docx? These are not DRM control or anything – just the .docx inserts that inform the reader they have received their requested version. Thank you again,

      1. Thank you for your question.

        I don’t know if you can do this directly in Calibre. But I think it should be fairly simple to add the watermark on the PDF that Calibre generates.

        Maybe with a tool such as this: iLove PDF Watermark.

        I think there are some Desktop based apps for this as well!

    1. Hi! Thank you for your comment!

      That is really strange. I don’t see any option where to set it to landscape or portrait mode. Have you tried different formats in the ‘Page setup’ tab?

  3. I scanned a 1977 Afghanistan pamphlet, so I have 48 individual PDF scans, I had hoped to assemble them back into a single PDF document, using Calibre.
    Seems I still have 48 individual files. It is also important that the page order is correct! I used file names such as “Afghanistan ti 1977 00.pdf” to “Afghanistan ti 1977 46.pdf”
    Any suggestions?

  4. Hi Max. I wanted to ask if calibre creates press ready pdfs or ‘prepress’ for professional printers to print (ie as a book). These have embedded fonts, like pdf/x. I’m looking for a simpler alternative than adobe. Thank you.

    1. Hi George, thank you for your comment.

      I am not very familiar with the requirements for professional printing. However, I think Calibre embeds the fonts in PDF files. You can also just use the PDF export from Microsoft Word if your documents are in that format!

  5. Thank you it worked well! I had to get Java first (there was a notification it was not supported by my Firefox browser – but since I wasn’t using it for that I just went ahead – everything worked fine.) Everything joined together well, but I made the mistake of adding ToC which only listed the file names.
    I brought it in to Calibre but was disappointed that the metadata & cover photo didn’t stick to the PDF.
    Then I discovered Facebook max file size was 100 MB and used the software to split just under that.
    Lessons learned for next time!

  6. Hello Max

    So far you have given the best advice on how to convert epub to pdf. I cannot read epub or mobi or any other format for they are simply too big (the font). How can I get the conversion closest to the book as possible? I am still getting 8 – 900 pages. How can I keep the books closest to the original format? I know I cant get the original but I would like to get close.

    Daniel Kelly

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for your message!

      The guide here focuses on how to produce PDF documents which will work well on eReaders and tablets. If you want to make it look more like a ‘normal’ book, I would recommend reducing the ‘Default font size’ to 14px or 12px.

  7. Hi, thank you so much for this! But I wanted to ask if it is possible for tables to be resized in bulk so that all of them will fit the whole page instead of being minimized? The book I’m converting to PDF has a lot of tables, and I find it distracting that the tables I have in the PDF format are so small. Thank you again!

    1. Hello! Sorry for my late reply!

      I don’t think there is an easy option to have the Tables resized. You could try increase the paper size (and possibly the font size) and then try to see if it will fit on the PDF (for most screen readers, the increased paper size shouldn’t matter since they should fit the PDF to the screen). Hope this helps.

  8. Hi Sir,
    Please help:
    1.When I convert the epub to pdf which is able to be read on the iPad, and I choose
    the output format is iPad exactly.
    But the result is A4 not for iPad-10.5cmx16cm.
    Would you pleaes advise what can I do for this issue?
    2.After converting the epub convert, the contents can’t be seen in Kindle.
    e.g:2 of 12 can be seen!!
    Highly appreciate your kind helps.
    Best Regards
    Grace Liu

    1. Hello Grace, thank you for your message! For 1. have you had a look at the page ‘PDF output’? I think there might be an option there to set a specific size. You can either try to use the size set in the output profile or set a custom size. For 2., sorry I wouldn’t know how to help here. Sometimes some files cannot be converted because of some issue in their formatting. Do other files get converted without problem?

  9. Fantastic. I have been trying to format a PDF as a free giveaway but it came out ugly each time. Tried your method and it worked just great. The only thing I changed were the margins – 75 was too wide for my document. But many thanks!

  10. For those scratching their heads as to why the setup here won’t work; apparently, for many PDFs you have to set “Embed font family” under “Look & feel” to your desired font. The font settings mentioned here won’t have any impact whatsoever when working with a PDF of that kind.

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