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Creating EPUBs with InDesign

People complain that InDesign won’t export decent EPUBs. I have to disagree. You can get pretty decent results from InDesign if you optimize the file for EPUB before exporting. Here are the steps that I follow for InDesign CS6.

  1. Make sure styles are applied to anything that needs to be different from the base font and paragraph. For example, use character styles for bold and italic words and phrases.
  2. Clear all overrides of paragraph and character styles. ALL overrides.
  3. Use the Articles panel to set the order of stories and images. Note: Images should have no spaces in the file name. Neither should your InDesign file.
  4. Edit the export tags for character and paragraph styles. Use em or i for italic; use strong or b for bold. You can set classes for the different paragraph styles. I use p alone for body text and add classes for every other type of paragraph. Also select which styles should be used for page breaks (Split Document).
  5. Enter Document Title, Author, Description, and Copyright info in File / File Info… (menu bar at top of page).
  6. Update your TOC. (If you don’t have one, create one and include it in your Articles panel. You will need it for your EPUB.) Save a TOC style for the current document.
  7. In Export dialog, enter Publisher info and link to an external style sheet with your desired definitions, if you have one set up. (If you use your custom style sheet, uncheck Include Style Definitions.) Uncheck Preserve Local Overrides and Include Embeddable Fonts.* Select the TOC style for the current document. If your book has images and you have set up article order, select Content Order: Based on Articles Panel. For most novels, Content Order: Based on Page Layout should be fine.
  8. Export.

You might still want to edit the EPUB to add metadata. There’s free standalone software that edits just the metadata. I haven’t tried it myself. There’s also Jutoh and Sigil EPUB editors. For fine-tuning the EPUB, I use Oxygen XML Author.

*Fonts: You really don’t need to include them. Most ereader apps and devices provide a selection that readers can choose from.

About Sandra K. Williams

Sandra K. Williams loves books, both printed and digital. Since 1996 she has worked with authors and independent publishers, editing and designing books for print. Since 1999 she has built easy-to-use, accessible websites, and she uses her HTML and CSS skills to design reader-friendly e-books.

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