View Full Version : Designing a document for both print and epub

10-17-2011, 07:16 PM
Brand new here and to the epub format. I was relieved to today discover this forum, but please excuse my ignorance of epub and ebooks in general.

I am fairly Adobe literate. I use InDesign for publication design and Dreamweaver for web design.

Our company plans to create two map guides in print and epub format. Most pages will contain a small map and 100-150 words. The first page of each chapter will include a larger area map that will act as an index to the following pages.

InDesign has a little button that exports files in epub format. Seems fairly simple to everyone around me. I can just create print-ready files in InDesign, then export them to epub. Easy.

But looking around here and elsewhere the last couple days suggests otherwise, that using images with text is a different kettle of fish.

Can I just jump into the document design and not worry about epub conversion until later?

Or are there things I should do in the initial stages of design that would make life much easier for me down the road?

Any help appreciated. If anyone knows of a resource for those who are designing documents to be used in different mediums would love to hear about it.


10-17-2011, 08:21 PM
There is a tutorial over at on the subject entitled InDesign CS5.5 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad. It's by Anne-Marie Concepcion of InDesign Secrets.

I think it's worth becoming a member to watch it if you aren't a member already.

Also get InDesign 5.5 if you don't already have it. They keep making major improvements to the epub export process and 5.5 is by far the best yet.

If you have InDesign 5.5, you can pretty much design the document for print and then use a few features (like the new articles panel) to optimize your document for epub. This is less true if you are using InDesign 5 and it's even worse if you are using versions 3 or 4.

On output, InDesign turns all your paragraph styles to p tags with the class name being the style name. Character styles are span classes. You can use DreamWeaver to edit the css and html output if necessary. You do that by unzipping the epub file. I created a site in Dreamweaver that I call epub so I can do global search/replaces to my epub files if need be.

Some of the css styles, InDesign generates do not work in most epub readers so you may need to edit the css. Just check your output on as many devices as you can and learn what works.

There's a really great guy on her named pdurrant who has created a ton of applescripts including ones that zip and unzip epub files, run epubcheck, and create mobi files (for kindle). I've incorporated a bunch of them into my workflow.

10-17-2011, 08:27 PM
Hi Adieu, Welcome to the forum mate.

You may want to post an example of the map you intend to use so we can give you some feedback.

Here's a few things that I've learned with the help of the guys and gals on these forum.

When creating a print book that will become an ePub I keep the stylenames simple. h1, h2, h3 for chapter head, section head and subhead which transfers to the CSS and helps conversion programs like Calibre and editing software like Dreamweaver and Sigil do their stuff.
Imageboxes are pasted in-line with the text and not dropped on top as you go.

You will need to tweek the content.OPF and template.CSS files after you export.

Readers and reader software don't like cmyk.

I make the images larger than I need and scale them with CSS.

img {margin: 1em 0 0 0 !important;

That way you can tap them on an apple device and they enlarge to full screen. Maps are always going to be a problem and I've seen many people asking questions about them. Images larger that about 2000 pixels create problems in iBooks with the above css. (Pages disappear after the image)

You will need to be familiar with unpacking and packing the ePub. If you have a Mac look for PDurrant's threads for scrips that do this. If you are using Windows 7 I have a little trick that doesn't require a script to repack the epub. With all the contents of the epub highlighted, right click on the mymtype file and select SEND TO > COMPRESSED (ZIP) FOLDER. Rename it with the epub extension and it validates every time. Noone else around here seems to do it but I've used this method a thousand times.

Using the "Include fonts" in InDesign will invalidate the ePub due to Adobe compression. There's an entire thread on how to do that in the stikis at the top of this forum.

Make cover pages about 800 pixels high. If you use the BOOK feature in InDesign you make the first chapter the cover by placing the cover image in a picture box and cutting and pasting the picture box into a text box.
If the publication is all one file (which is how I do it now) I make the first page the title page and subsequent chapter headers h1 with "Use first level entries as chapter breaks" selected when exporting" You end up with a book without a cover. Then, Using Calibre, convert it from ePub to ePub and add the cover image in the Metadata during the conversion process. Adding //*[name()='h1' or name()='h2'] in the structure detection field ensures that all h1 and h2 headers start at the top of a new page.

Use the search feature. A lot of us have gone through what you are doing now.

Good luck Adieu.

10-19-2011, 01:48 AM
Thanks for the thoughtful replies and useful information. We have InDesign CS5 and clearly should upgrade. It might be simple, but clearly I have a lot to learn. I will spend as much time as I can spare reading relevant posts here.
Thanks also for the recommendation of Rumor has it that we will be signing up there and possibly bringing in someone with lots of epub experience. I won't hold my breath, but it's nice that people are beginning to appreciate that this will be more than a mouse click.
None of the maps have yet been created, since the project is still in the early stages, but no doubt will create many questions as this thing unwraps.

10-19-2011, 06:08 AM
Well adieu, make sure you tell the powers that be that making epubs from InDesign is NOT like making PDFs. Not even close. Good luck . . . . and expecting your next post.
Cheers and beers.

10-19-2011, 12:53 PM
Nobody has mentioned Liz Castro's _EPUB Straight to the Point_, available from her blog ( I don't use InDesign myself, so I can't say how helpful her chapter on InDesign solutions is; nevertheless I learned a lot about making epub files by hand. She also has a continuing series on creating iPubs for those who care about the iBooks market. :)

10-19-2011, 09:10 PM
Oh, I agree. Ms. Castro's book is terrific. Forgot to mention it. I read that before I saw the video.

InDesign keeps changing things so drastically, that when I upgraded to 5.5 it made a lot of her InDesign advice obsolete for me, but the stuff about the CSS and HTML code is still quite relevant.

Here's a thread ( I found where people talk about their workflows. I think it's incredible how many different ways there are of doing this - probably as many different ways as there are people who are doing it. Anyway, definitely some good ideas there. I'll post my workflow there, if and when I ever nail it down. It's still in flux and I'm not 100% happy with it yet.