CCEL's ability to continue its mission would not be possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers who provide their time, knowledge, and resources. Volunteering benefits 5 million annual CCEL visitors!

This discussion group attempts to set up a structure where volunteers can help and encourage each other, keep track of what is being done, and find out what volunteering options are available. Listed below are just some of the tasks for which CCEL would like assistance.

What is the path a book follows to get posted on CCEL?

Eventually all books have to be marked up in ThML, or Theological Markup Language, before being added to the CCEL. ThML is an XML-based markup language designed for and used by the CCEL and also used in a couple of other places. You can think of it as HTML plus some additional markup for scripture references, chapter titles, bibliographic information, hymns and poetry, and the like.

Most books that are added to the CCEL historically have come through the ThML route. In this path, a book is edited with a text editor, typically converted from HTML into ThML. However, this approach requires familiarity with or learning about XML and ThML, using an XML parser and text editor, etc.

When a Microsoft Word file comes to us, we still have to convert it to ThML. Typically, that works by saving the book in Microsoft Word in Word HTML format and then running some computer programs to do much of the work of converting it to ThML. Then it is finished by hand with a text editor. This process can take anywhere from an hour to several hours, depending on the state of the Word file and how much additional markup must be added.

Once we have a ThML file, adding the book to the CCEL is more or less automatic. We have programs that will convert it to various formats such as PDF, put the relevant data into the database, and move all the files into the appropriate place on the server.

-Harry Plantinga

Volunteer Tasks and Discussion Threads

Introductions: Tell us a little about yourself!
DON'T PANIC: Questions and Discussions on the Training Threads
HELP!! I have a problem with this book!: Ask your questions about book/project problems here
CCEL Bibliography

Proof Reading Training Threads:
Proof Reader Training
Proof Reading Book Projects and Reservations

Task Training Threads:
Locating Library of Congress Control Numbers
Write A Product Review
Book Introduction
Adding Biographical Information
Adding Subject Tags
Translating Books
Cataloging Books
Adding Tags
Adding Page Breaks
Creating Audio Books
Suggestions for Book Installations (requires some .xml knowledge)

Loutzenhiser's picture

Beginning To Convert a Book from a Word Doc to Basic HTML

This is easy Friends. All you are going to do here is add in some text called Tags. This is the first step to begin converting a text or word document to it's final form.

Loutzenhiser's picture

Creating Audio Books (MP3 files)

Many of our books could be voice recorded as MP3 audio files for our listening audience to download.

Basically, find a book you would like to read, setup a microphone and a recording program on your computer. Read the book to the computer for it to create a MP3 file.

Windows Vista and XP come with a program called Sound Recorder. Sound Recorder does not save files as MP3's. You will need to find a recording program. You can download and use Free Sound Recorder from CNET at

hplantin's picture

CCEL book bibliography

We maintain a database of books we have, books wanted, priorities, book statuses, etc. It's really mainly for internal use but I've made the page available for other interested people. The URL is (It's also linked in the left sidebar of the "About the CCEL" page.)

We are able to give individuals permission to edit the bibliography. If you feel called to helping develop this list of books we want to add to the CCEL, helping locate copies on-line, etc., please contact me.

Loutzenhiser's picture

Beginning ThML

There are a number of books on Project Gutenberg (and elsewhere) that would make good additions for the CCEL. They have to be converted to ThML (the CCEL's XML-based markup language) in order to be added. In fact, there are some books already at the CCEL that still haven't been converted to ThML.

This process requires some knowledge of XML, but it isn't too difficult for someone who knows something about XML and can use a text editor and XML parser (or XML editor). It would be helpful if they can also run a couple of perl scripts that are already written.

Adding Page Breaks to .xml Documents (Easy to Learn!)

An easy way to start learning .XML is to add ‘page break’ tags to books.

This is a relatively easy task, and it normally doesn’t take too long (although it depends on the length of the book). An average size book can usually be completed in an hour or two.

Any book without pages numbers in the .pdf format is a candidate to have pb tags added (page numbers are generally in maroon colored boxes at the top left of page).


CCEL, being an electronic library, assigns call numbers (using the Library of Congress system) to the books we install. For various reasons, some of our books don't receive call numbers or are given incorrect call numbers. If you come across books that are missing call numbers (or have incorrect call numbers), please email this information to Ken Verhulst (or post it here!).


Translating Books

As many of you may know, CCEL is accessed by individuals throughout the world. We ship almost as many of our CDs outside of the United States as we ship inside the U.S. We regularly get requests to include books in foreign languages, to include MP3 files with audio in foreign languages, and the like.

CCEL is limited in terms of time and financial resources, and this limits what types of resources we can provide on our Web site. In the case of foreign language material, we are even more limited in that our staff of 4 employees is pretty limited in foreign language experience.

Adding Subject Tags

This is the place to ask questions, provide advice, and discuss the task of adding subject tags for CCEL books.

Here's a brief task description:

Adding subject tags to Book Pages is quick and easy, and it makes our new subject search more useful. You can add tags while reading any book page by simply typing relevant subject words into the "Tag this page" box on the CCEL Toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Just type a word and press the Enter key to add the tag.

Not sure what words to use as tags? Here are some tips:

Adding Biographical Information

We've completed adding basic biographical information on most of our CCEL authors, but we are still working on adding biographical information for our Hymnary composers. Using information from a a Google search or from Wikipedia, rewrite the important facts into a short paragraph or two (give credit to the sources as appropriate), and submit it to our system. We would also like a picture of the CCEL author and composers when possible, and this could be emailed to us as an attachment.

Email them to Ken Verhulst.

Book Descriptions

Thanks to the help of a very generous volunteer, CCEL has completed the task of including short biographies of most of the authors of the books included in the CCEL library. We would also like to include very brief book descriptions or book introductions on the books included in the CCEL library.

To get an idea of what we are trying to accomplish, here is a book description which can be found at

Loutzenhiser's picture


The basic goal is to make the on-line edition match the print edition -- errors and all. We aren't updating spelling or usage or changing it to match modern American usage.

When the page images are available, we can refer to the page images and make corrections with confidence. Sometimes the page images are not available at the CCEL, but they are available at Google Books. In that case you can search for some words on the page and try to find a source of page images.

hplantin's picture


Top proofreaders
this month:

ElderDad 22
RevRoberta 9
scribe 7
Brad Kautz 6
srmluka 3
fsoe2704 2
jrogers 2
mmurphy724 1

Most corrections
this month:


Loutzenhiser's picture

Book Projects and Reservations

Many Proofreaders will want to proof sections of books rather than committing to an entire book, and this is fine. However, if you'd like to proofread a whole book, please let us know so that we can 'reserve' the book for you and avoid duplication of work.

hplantin's picture

DON'T PANIC - Questions not covered by the Training Threads

Ask your questions here on any of the Tasks covered in this group.

Loutzenhiser's picture


Say hello and introduce yourself

Group Manager, Ken Verhulst (

Loutzenhiser's picture

HELP!!! I have a problem with this book.........

Rather then scatter our requests for help with a book across all the training threads, how about if we try to post questions and requests for help here?