calibre custom columns

The main calibre window has a default set of columns that most people find useful in organising their ebook collection. These include Title, Author, Date, Size (of file in MB), Ratings, Tags , Series, Publisher and Published. Although these columns are sufficient for many users, most calibre features are made flexible to accommodate unusual needs and whims. The set of columns in the main window can be easily customized to include those columns that you find most useful. This demo video (the part between approximately 2 and 4 minutes of the 14 minute long video) illustrates how to manipulate the contents of columns as well as how to delete unwanted columns and add custom columns.

Manipulating the columns: Depending on your screen size only a few columns can be made visible so you will only want to include columns that are useful to you. If you need more columns than fit in your screen, you can move the most useful ones to the left so they are always visible. The order of the columns can be changed by left clicking on the column title and dragging it to the left or right of other column titles. As shown in the figure below you can right click on the column title to see ways in which you can manipulate it.

You can hide the column if it is not useful to you. You can also sort the entries in your library in ascending or descending order of the entries in a particular column like the rating; having the highest rated bpooks on top and the lowest rated at the bottom of your list. This can also be used to arrange books in alphabetical (or reverse alphabetical) order of author or title. You can also implement this by simply left clicking on the title of the column you want to sort by. If you want the order reversed just click on the column title again. If the entries are arranged in descending (ascending) order of the entries in a particular column a little grey downward (upward) pointing arrow appears next to the column title; like for the Rating column in the figure above.
For a text type column like author or title you can choose the the text to be left, right, or center aligned. You can manipulate the width of the columns by hovering the mouse between two column titles, once the left-right double sided arrow icon shows up you can drag it left or right to adjust the width.

Adding custom columns: To add a custom column click on Preferences in the main calibre tool bar and in the new window that opens click “Add your own columns” in the first row of icons under Interface. The following window appears.

The columns marked with an “x” are the visible columns in your main calibre window. You can select or unselect columns here to choose which ones should be visible. To add a column not on the list click the green “+” sign button on the right and the following window appears.

First you must choose the nature of entries in your custom column. The figure above shows the available data types including integer numbers, text, binary yes and no entries, dates, floating point numbers, etc. This blog post will illustrate examples of two different data type columns.

Example Binary Yes/No type column: Here we are going to create a binary Yes/No type column with column heading “Read”, look up name “read” and column type Yes/No. The entry Yes in this column indicates the book is read and No indicates the book is not yet read. After filling the entries and clicking OK in the window in the above figure a new column appears with title “Read” in the main calibre window. By double clicking in the position of the entries of this column a drop down box opens that allows you to select “Yes” or “No” or leave it blank as shown in the figure below. So you can now mark the read status of the ebooks in you collection as done for a few in the figure below. A green tick indicates Yes or read and a white cross in a red circle indicates No or not read. You can also leave the read status blank.

Example Text with fixed set of permitted values type column: We will use this type of column to indicate the genre of the book. The figure below shows how we have chosen the values and corresponding colors for the entries in this column.

Setting the column up as shown above will create a column titled Genre with allowed entries Adventure, Mystery, Classic, Humour, Play and News as shown below. The adventure entry will always be in black the Mystery entry in blue etc.

 To fill the entries of this column as before double click on the column entry and a drop down box will show up with the allowed entries as shown in the figure above.  The figure above also shows a few books with this entry filled in and the News entry is in red while the Humour entry is in green. The colors will help quickly distinguish the different genre at a glance.

Hope you have fun playing around with various types of custom columns this week and find it useful. See you again in about a week.

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