Episode 10: Creating an eBook with InDesign (Part 1)

November 11, 2009

eBook publishing is becoming increasingly popular. More and more publishers are providing content in the eBook format. Major bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders are selling thousands of eBooks every day. And as more people become savvy with eBook readers, eBooks will become even more popular. This new and different way of distributing and accessing book content expands the opportunities for reading, just as the MP3 file did with digital music.

Adobe InDesign lets you create eBooks in the EPUB (electronic publication) format, which is an open eBook standard that was designed to enable content to adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions. With more publishers, bookstores, and developers supporting the EPUB format, there is no better time to start exploring the world of eBook publishing. In this episode, I start by introducing you to the EPUB file format. Then I show you some best practices for setting up an InDesign file that can be accurately converted to an EPUB file.

You'll learn how important it is to apply paragraph and character styles to all the text in your document and you'll learn a trick for speeding up that process. Then you'll discover how to control the position of all the text and graphics in an EPUB file. I also talk about master page elements and how they are handled when a document is converted to an EPUB file.

In Episode 11, I'll continue from where I left off and finish preparing the document for export. I'll also show you how to export the final EPUB file.

If you would like even more in-depth information on creating EPUB files, check out my article in the October/November 2009 issue of InDesign Magazine.

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Posted in eBook Publishing, Layout, Video Podcasts

10 comment(s) to "Episode 10: Creating an eBook with InDesign (Part 1)"


November 16, 2009


Thank you, Gabriel, for a clear and interesting tutorial. I'm looking forward to more in part two. ... Michael Pastore == 50 Benefits of Ebooks ==


November 16, 2009


Looking forward to part 2 and more--very interested in the basic how-to's on ePub. What about setting up chapters using the Book option? or is it still best to go back and anchor images and captions and have one continuous flow? What about tables? so much to learn!


November 17, 2009

Gabriel Powell

I don't talk about tables in Part 1 or 2 of this series. InDesign will export them as XHTML tables in the EPUB file, but all the table formatting is lost. I've experimented with using CSS styles to format tables, but have had little success. In fact, in my testing I’ve discovered that not all eBook readers even support formatted tables. I'm looking forward to the future of eBooks. It can only get better.


June 05, 2010


Hi Gabriel, Is there a definitive list of fonts which are technically suitable available (without embedding). There have been many posts regarding personal preferences for readability. I know that in one of the pods you said that fonts should be Opentype or TrueType. I looked at the iPad promo which shows its native 5 fonts. Robbie


July 12, 2010


Hi, Gabriel. How do you create a drop cap in an EPUB? I can't seem to figure this one out. Thank you.


July 18, 2010


I was very excited to find your Podcast on eBooks. BUT just as I get to the good part, it starts over! I'm already about to pull my hair out over this stuff. The streaming problem has put me over the edge. MR


April 03, 2011


Ultimate frustration: trying to convert InDesign (CS5) file to EPUB, using Windows XP. Cannot add Drop Cap and Small Cap attributes to file. Cannot find the Paragraph Style control panel listing: ICap, Small Caps, Italics, Bold, etc as shown in this podcast. Help.


April 06, 2011

Gabriel Powell

@rggraham In the Paragraph Styles dialog box, look in the Basic Character Formats category and choose Normal, Small Caps, or All Caps, from the Case menu. Keep in mind though that if you use All Caps, your text won't appear in all caps in the EPUB file. This is because it's just an effect. You must type the text in all caps for it to appear that way in an EPUB file. As for small caps, when you export from CS4, this formatting is lost. You have to manually format the CSS file within the EPUB file to format text as small caps. When you export from CS5, that formatting is retained. For bold, italic, etc, this formatting needs to be defined with a character style for individual letters and words and a paragraph style for entire paragraphs. To edit a paragraph style or character style, double click its name in the Paragraph Styles panel and Character Styles panel respectively.


December 05, 2011


Is it possible to apply the techniques shown in this tutorial to InDesign CS1?


January 27, 2012

Gabriel Powell

@Pomegranate It's only possible to export EPUB files from InDesign CS3 – CS5.5. If you're serious about eBook production, then I highly recommend you upgrade to InDesign CS5.5 to get the best possible EPUB export results.

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