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Create New OER

If you cannot find existing OER that is suitable for your course, or you simply have an idea for an openly licensed project, we can work with you to develop custom course materials. Starting from scratch can be a daunting task, but there are a variety of options to get started, including using existing course notes and presentations slides.

OER development services

The Libraries offer a variety of services to help you develop and publish your own OER:

  • Consultations to discuss publishing platform options
  • Finding existing OER to adapt and build upon
  • Copyright guidance on the use of third-party materials
  • Formatting support, training, and hosting on the publishing platform Pressbooks
  • Working with AccessibleNU to ensure accessibility
  • Assigning a Creative Commons license, DOI, and ISBN
  • Creating exports of your OER in HTML, PDF, EPUB, or print format
  • Sharing your OER and making it discoverable via OER repositories
  • Maintaining persistent access and storage via Arch, Northwestern’s institutional repository

Publishing tools to create OER

Typically, OER authors begin their projects using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or another word processing system and then publish their OER as a PDF or upload the content to a web-based publishing platform. There are a variety of platform options available depending on your need.


Northwestern provides access to Open Book Publishing, powered by Pressbooks, which is a user-friendly OER publishing platform based on WordPress. Features include:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Collaborative editing for projects with multiple authors
  • Multiple format export options, including PDF and EPUB
  • Plugins for mathematical equations (MathJax and QuickLaTeX)
  • Interactive exercises with H5P
  • Custom book covers

You may choose to format your content via Pressbooks yourself or request full formatting and publishing support from the Libraries. To get started with Pressbooks, contact the Open Education Librarian at

Other user-friendly options

If you'd like to explore OER authoring and publishing tools on your own, there are several free options available that don't require coding knowledge:

  • PubPub: an open-source, community led publishing platform that provides options for collaboration, embeddable content, and peer review. 
  • Open Author: authoring tool created by the OER Commons that allows you to use text, images, and media to create an open text. 
  • Wikibooks Writer: authoring tool to create instructional textbook-like wikis.
  • H2O from Harvard Law: designed for law faculty to create open casebooks.

Specialized tools

Some more advanced tools require knowledge of programming languages and are most commonly used by instructors within the sciences and social sciences, as they allow for more complex integration of visualizations and equations. Two popular applications include:

  • OverleafAn online, collaborative LaTeX editor that provides packages and templates for many document types. Northwestern does not currently provide institutional access to OverLeaf, so individual fees will apply.
  • Bookdown: use this open-source R package to create books and reports with R Markdown. 
  • Jupyter Notebook: an open-source web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and narrative text.

While the Libraries are unable to provide technical support for specialized tools, OER authors using them can still take advantage of all other relevant OER publishing services.

OER Faculty Grant Program

If you teach an undergraduate course, consider applying for the Affordable Instructional Resources OER grant. Funded by the Office of the Provost and the Libraries, this annual grant program gives $5,000, individualized support, and technical assistance to faculty who replace their commercial textbooks with newly developed or adapted OER. 

Visit AIR's OER Grant Recipients page to see examples of OER created through the grant program by Northwestern instructors.

OER published at Northwestern

To see examples of OER created by Northwestern faculty, or to connect with instructors with OER experience, visit the OER at Northwestern page.