Episode 11: Creating an eBook with InDesign (Part 2)

November 16, 2009

In Episode 10, I introduced you to the EPUB format and I explained how it's different from a PDF file. I also started the process of setting up an InDesign document that can be accurately converted to the EPUB file format. In this episode, I show you how to create page breaks, setup a table of contents, insert hyperlinks and cross-references, and add metadata to the eBook. Then I walk you through the process of exporting 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

42 comment(s) to " Episode 11: Creating an eBook with InDesign (Part 2)"


November 17, 2009


Its very good video; I like the the way he demonstrated the Table of Contents creation using cross references. I have a problem in my InDesign book where it is not showing TOC style I created. What could be the problem? Can you please help me in this regard. Thanks in advance.


November 17, 2009

Gabriel Powell

If the TOC Style you created doesn't appear in the TOC Style menu when you export the EPUB file, you need to do one of the following:

- Locate the document in the book file that contains the TOC Style and specify it as the style source by clicking in the column to the left of the document name. Then export the EPUB file and your TOC Style will be available.

- After creating the TOC Style, synchronize the book file so that the TOC Style is copied to all the other documents in the book. Then it doesn't matter which document is specified as the style source.


December 02, 2009

Colleen Cunningham

Another informative episode. Thank you for providing an excellent eBook creation resource! A question - what do you think is the best font/size to set the text to in InDesign before exporting to ePub? My research indicated Georgia (because of easy legibility and the availability of italic) but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


January 08, 2010

Gabriel Powell

If you don't want to alter your book layout, I suggest that you continue using the original fonts and don't embed the fonts when you export the EPUB file. Even if you embed the fonts, many eBook readers ignore them and use their own default font instead. If you want to embed the fonts in the EPUB file, I recommend using Georgia. Not only because its easy to read on screen, but also because it's one of the fonts that is typically available in many eBook readers. As for the size of the font, that doesn't matter so much, because every eBook reader allows you to change the text size. So just choose a size that is large enough to be comfortably read on screen.


January 14, 2010


Great video, but I am having some problems. I'm using CS3. How did you get some of your entries in TOC ID file to indent? I crated a page, and indented some of entries using a tab, but the tabs did not carry over. Also, Digital Editions created two TOCs on the left panel. Thanks!


January 15, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@Jillo If you want to create an indent in an EPUB file, apply a left indent to the paragraph instead of inserting a tab. Make sure that the left indent is defined in the paragraph style, otherwise the text won't be indented in the EPUB file.

As for the two TOCs being created in the left panel in Digital Editions, I think that happened because you didn't select Suppress Automatic Entries For Documents in the Contents section of the Digital Editions Export Options dialog box. Make sure it is selected. If you still can't get it to work, click the Ask a Question button at the top of this page to send me an email along with your InDesign file. I can then look into the problem for you.

I hope this helps! Good luck.


January 21, 2010


Very nice and informative videos! I am struggling with getting what I want in the template.css. When I export from Indesign CS4, I don't want a color specified for my paragraph styles. How is this done? I know I can manually remove the line from template.css of course, but I would like to be able to create a nice, clean export from Indesign. For every paragraph style, there is a line in template.css color: rgb(0,0,0); Readers who want to invert color on their reading devices (dark background, light font) won't see the text if it is defined as rgb(0,0,0). If I choose Character Colour = none in the paragraph style, I can't see the text in my Indesign-file which is not very practical! I really hope there is a nice and simple solution to this.


January 21, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@MagdalenaK Thanks for bringing my attention to this issue! Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent InDesign from generating the color attribute in the CSS file when you have a color applied to the text. So you either have to edit the CSS file to remove the color attribute, or you have to apply the [None] color swatch to all your text before exporting the EPUB file.

I think it's easier to edit the CSS file, especially if you are using an XML editor that has a Find/Replace feature. Otherwise, you can update all your styles to use the character color of [None] just before you export the EPUB file.


February 21, 2010


I had my first client contact me regarding epub. I am currently on CS3 and am wondering if there are any major holdbacks I am going to encounter being on CS3 instead of CS4 when it comes to producing the Epub document? Thanks for the info!! S


February 27, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@stevenp InDesign CS4 offers a couple of advantages over InDesign CS3 when it comes to creating EPUB files. You can add cross-references to an eBook. You can use local formatting instead of defined styles as the basis for generating the CSS styles (which I don't actually recommend). I particularly like using the new Live Preflight feature to check the integrity of my document as I produce it. I check for things such as overset text, low image resolution, and cross-references that are out of date. If you are only going to upgrade to CS4 for it's EPUB-specific features, it may not be worth the investment.


March 12, 2010


Ehi everyone! I desperately need a suggestion to resolve a problem with InDesign CS4 Digital Editions. I want to esport for digital editions a file in which there’s also a video, and when I export, it doesn’t appear in the epub file. How can I put a video in a epub file for e book? I know readers as IPad read videos without problems … Can somebody help me? I can’t find an answer anywhere … Thank You all, best regards, Fra from Milan


March 16, 2010


Gabriel, Thanks a million for all your excellent information and advice here (and all the other forums and what not you contribute to). It makes starting in ePublishing SO much less daunting. Very much appreciated. d.


April 04, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@Sirfr Unfortunately, video is not quite supported by most eBook readers, but it can work on Stanza on the iPhone/iPod Touch if you use the <embed> element instead of <object>. You must also use a compatible video format, such as m4v or mp4. I'm assuming this will also work for the iPad. Joshua Tallent recently demonstrated the use of video at the O'Reily Tools of Change conference. To download his demo file, go to www.ebookarchitects.com/toc.php. There is a list of sample eBooks that you can download. You want to download the eBook that demonstrates the use of video.

Once you download the EPUB file, open it in Digital Editions and notice that there's an example that uses the <object> element, the <embed> element, and a Flash video, which actually plays in Digital Editions! Then transfer the EPUB file to Stanza on the iPhone and you will be able to play the video that uses the <embed> method. At first, I had difficulties getting it to play. Make sure you tap and hold the video icon until a yellow border appears around the video, then release to play the video.

Lastly, when you export an InDesign document as an EPUB file, any videos in the file are discarded, so that is why you see a blank page in the EPUB file. To get video into an EPUB file, you have to edit it and manually insert the code and video files yourself. Study the sample EPUB file you download to see how it's done. Good luck!


April 11, 2010


Thanks for the Video Tutorial. I've checked out the Magazine Article and I'm still not exactly clear how you managed to create the TOC you demonstrate. You have I guess paragraph styles 'Secton_Title' and 'ChapterNumber' set to levels 1 and 2. The TOC in the final EPub document has: Contents, Foreword and then 'Spy Killer' which is expandable; then Story Preview, etc. I'm just wondering what the actual InDesign files look like and where does the title 'Spy Killer' appear so that the Chapter Numbers are in their own sub-menu. Any recommendations on style structure and book structure would be appreciated :-) Thanks!


April 25, 2010


I found both video tutorials very helpful. But I seem to be having very little luck exporting an ePub. I don't know if it's because the document has been converted from CS3 to CS4 or because it has a lot of images, hyperlinks and text anchors but the ePub always seems to have blank pages. I've tried not embedding fonts, embedding fonts, slitting the document up into it's separate chapters and amalgamating it into an InDesign Book and exporting a single document – there's always this problem.

Also, you mention it is possible to edit the code in the ePub. How do you do that? I have tried to open it in Text Edit (Mac) and Dreamweaver but don't get anything I recognize as CSS or XML.


May 03, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@robcubbon Your EPUB file has blank pages in it after exporting it from InDesign, because you are experiencing a bug. Upgrade to InDesign CS4 6.0.4 or InDesign CS5 and you will no longer experience this issue.

As for editing EPUB files, check out my article on CreativePro.com: http://www.creativepro.com/article/making-ebooks-indesign-part-2.

Also check out my post on editing EPUB files with Oxygen XML Editor: http://instantindesign.com/index.php?view=412.


May 03, 2010

Gabriel Powell

@Keith To create a TOC that appears as a navigation guide in the EPUB file, you need to first consistently apply paragraph styles to all the headings throughout your publication. You then create a TOC style (Layout > Table Of Contents Styles) that references those paragraph styles. When the EPUB file is generated, InDesign locates all the text to which the specified paragraph styles are applied and generates the TOC with that text. The order of the TOC entries is determined by the order in which you have arranged the paragraph styles in the TOC style. Hope this helps.


June 17, 2010


Hi Thanks for this brilliant video. I use InDesign 6.0.5. on a Mac. When I export a document with paragraph or/and character styles set to a bold font face I always get a font-weight: normal; attribute in CSS - font is normal on my ebook reader (iPad). Is this fixed in CS 5 or can I fix it somehow in InDesign (no problem doing that in the css itself). Is there somewhere out there a list of changes to ebook related features from CS 4 to CS 5? Thanks for information Jürgen


July 26, 2010

Hi Gabriel I am designing specifically for iPad which has a screen size of 768 x 1024 px at 132 ppi. InDesign does not allow for a doc to be set up in pixels. I have converted this pixel size to 576 x 1024 points and set up document to this size. I created a test image that is 768 px wide @ 132 ppi and placed it in InDesign. My monitor is 96 ppi so this 132 ppi image looks smaller than the document width. When I convert the image to 96 ppi (without resampling) it fits the full width. Does my logic work so far? I am hoping that if I rescale the image in InDesign to 576 pt (768 px) and "keep images as original" when saving to ePub that it will work. Any thoughts would be helpful and I will let you know if my test is successful.


September 07, 2010


Dear Gabriel thanks so much for your brilliant video - very very helpful. I've made a few files which seem to work ok, but I can't figure out how to make a title page for a book appear in the TOC without having to have the text 'Title Page' appear on the actual title page (which obviously looks a bit silly). Same problem with the copyright page. Can I do this straight from InDesign or do I need to edit the file in another program?


October 13, 2010


Hi Gabriel Thanks for the video which I have followed exactly. I am using CS5 and when I try to export to EPUB I get through all the export ages and am told indesign is now exporting. My computer then hangs with 100% cpu used by indesign which is shown as not responding. Other people in my office are having the same issue! Have you come across any pointers on this?.


October 13, 2010


Hi Gabriel Thanks for the video which I have followed exactly. I am using CS5 and when I try to export to EPUB I get through all the export ages and am told indesign is now exporting. My computer then hangs with 100% cpu used by indesign which is shown as not responding. Other people in my office are having the same issue! Have you come across any pointers on this?.


October 14, 2010


Hi Gabriel, i have successfully made an epub at last thanks to your help. However I have a couple of issues that I just can't seem to get around. Firstly the hyperlinks on my contents page don't work. One did, but none of the others, and they were all done the same way - is there a way of clearing all the hyperlinks and trying to start again? In your experience can you think why they would not activate when exported to digital editions? Secondly I have a lot of lists. THe bullets and text have come out fine but the font is bigger than the body text. In indesign the bullet list style is based on the text and in the CSS file it is exactly the same size so I can't work out how to get it to convert properly. Can you help with either of these frustrating problems?


February 10, 2011


Great videos! The clearest and most complete instructions I've seen so far I used ID4 to create an eBook, separating each chapter into a separate ID Doc. Then I loaded each chapter into a book and made a TOC exactly as you directed. In the eBook all my chapter headings turn up, but many link to a blank page. I set up all the chapters exactly the same way. Any ideas? I've checked for things like missing font, oversee text and other errors. Thank you.


March 09, 2011


thanks a lot Gabriel, you were VERY HELPFUL to me !!!


March 25, 2011


Hello everyone, I'm trying to export my book (ePub) to digital editions. After doing so I'm always missing 3 or 2 chapters in the content. The chapters are always listed on the TOC after exporting, but when I click on them I get a blank page and if I scroll down to look for more content of the same chapter I go to the next chapter automatically. I have on chapter per document and I'm using CS4.


March 27, 2011

Gabriel Powell

@lvillamarin You are experiencing a known bug. If you upgrade to the latest version of InDesign CS4, which is currently 6.0.6, you will no longer be missing chapters. To upgrade, go to the Help menu and choose Updates.


May 11, 2011


I am trying to generate an epub file with indesign cs5, and have followed the process laid out in these videos to the letter. Everything works spledidly, except that the TOC page absolutely will not work no matter what epub viewer I test it in. I have tried both hyperlinks and cross references, and the links simply do not function. I am at a loss to even guess why at this point, as nothing I try seems to makes any difference.


June 02, 2011

Gabriel Powell

@MisterThingie What you are experiencing is a known bug with InDesign CS5. Adobe recently released InDesign CS5.5. They completely reengineered the EPUB export feature from the ground up. You can now export a TOC that's generated with InDesign's automatic TOC feature. And hyperlinks and cross-references are now properly maintained in the EPUB file as clickable links.


August 04, 2011


Hello, I would like to know if Adobe InDesign CS 5.5 can create an epub that has narrated audio and if possible hilighted words during narration. Thank you


September 12, 2011


Thanks for the video! Being able to design the TOC through InDesign is a nice touch. I use to have to dig in and edit the html every time I wanted to make a TOC.


September 27, 2011


I created a book in InDesign CS4: - Used Styles (not local formatting) to format - Added cover and all text/chapters to the book file. - Selected a chapter as the style source, went to Layout > TOC Styles, and added a navigational TOC - Under File > File info, added metadata including title, description, author name, copyright info. - Selected "Export to Digital Editions" under the fly-out menu and made my selections for General, Images, Contents when saving. First issue I noticed: when exporting, the Contents menu didn't give me the option of choosing the navigational TOC I'd created (in subsequent attempts, checked several times, to be sure it was created), but still, only offered the Default. The export function seemed to be working but didn't export the entire book, no matter what I tried. Each time, only the book's cover exported. Metadata did not export (appeared in Caliber as "author unknown") and neither did any of the text. I tried switching the style source to a different page (chapter, title page, cover). Tried copying the content into new, different chapter files. Created a new book. Still only managed to export the cover, although I always used the fly-out menu for the book. What am I doing wrong? Is this an unfixable InDesign CS4 glitch? And if so, is there a work-around? Thank you.


October 19, 2011


Dear Gabriel, I created a book in CS2 exactly as you described in your two videos. I then took it to someone who has CS5 to convert it to an epub. I can't seem to read it in Stanza. Also my character styles and paragraph styles came through when we opened the doc in InDesign CS5 but the Hyperlinks for my TOC didn't work. Any suggestions? Thanks


January 10, 2012

Gabriel Powell

@cghera InDesign cannot export an EPUB file with narrated audio and highlighted words. In fact, even if it could, few eBook readers even support this reading method. As of now, it's best to create a custom mobile app that does this. Some eBook readers will read the text aloud from an EPUB file, but InDesign can't generate this code for you. You will have to manually add it to the EPUB file yourself.


January 10, 2012

Gabriel Powell

@Anita The behavior you're describing sounds like a bug. The first version of InDesign CS4 had some issues with exporting book files. Update to the latest version by choosing Help > Updates, and then try exporting again. If you're serious about EPUB production though, I recommend InDesign CS5.5 if you haven't already upgraded. It's export to EPUB features are far superior.


January 10, 2012

Gabriel Powell

@Sarah The hyperlinks were broken in InDesign CS5. I recommend upgrading to CS5.5 for the best EPUB export experience.


June 13, 2012


Dear Gabriel, When I insert an image into the text paragraph that is center justified on the InDesign screen, epub left justifies it, even when I use the "center text" paragraph style. How do I get the image to center in the epub file when I export it? I am using CS4. Thank you for this most informative video and help.


June 16, 2012


Great video, Gabriel! Definitely the most informative and useful one out there at the moment. Just some extra notes that were discovered later that might have help others save them some time, when exporting their ebook: In Indesign cs4, even though according to the video it says that it doesn't matter which file you create your customised TOC at, make sure the little icon that "Indicates the Style Source" is next to the Indesign file that contains BOTH your customised TOC style AND the metadate info. If there were any changes made, always "Sychronise Book" and Save ALL (Command+Option+Shift+S for Mac) or (Cntrl+Alt+Shift+S) just to make sure it exports the most current version of your book.


June 16, 2012


Another tip to make things run faster for Mac users: even though the video says you have to create the TOC manually without the use of the automated generated TOC using Layout>Table Of Contents, you could always use that anyway but with a difference. Select all and Cmd+X to Cut the generated TOC then open TextEdit, go to File>Preferences to switch to Plain Text mode (this will get rid of all automated styles). Open a File>New and paste the TOC text there. Then select all again and copy the text from TextEdit and paste it back into Indesign.


June 19, 2012

Gabriel Powell

@me_wanna_learn Thanks for the tips!


December 10, 2012


Hi Gabriel. Your video tutorials are the best and have assisted me in creating my first ebook.im stuck on one issue and have browsed the web to no avail.can you kindly help if poss.ive created a ebook on cs5.5.ive got both TOCs as you outlined however wen xporting the inbb file to kindle the logical TOC is appearing on the mobi file in addition to my hyperlink contents page.how can i remove that auto generated TOC yet keep the logical toc appearing on the left?your help most appreciated.cheers


June 27, 2013


These two videos were invaluable for me in creating an ebook. However, there's one problem I have. I'm a little confused with InDesign's Table of Contents. Should I use it or not? And how do I get it to behave? I created just a standard InDesign file and then hyperlinked to each of my chapters, but when I open it in Adobe Digital Editions, the navigation on the left shows each InDesign's file name. How do I change this?

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