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Export InDesign Documents as EPUB Files

Books displayed using iBooks, Nook devices, Kobo readers, or Sony eReaders all use the EPUB file format. Books displayed on the Kindle begin as e-pub files but undergo an additional conversion process into Amazon’s proprietary Kindle format. The bottom line — if you want to create electronic books, you need to know about creating EPUB files. Here’s how to create an e-pub using InDesign:

  1. With an InDesign document open, choose File→Export.

    The Export dialog box appears.

  2. From the Save as Type (Windows) or Format (Mac) drop-down list, select EPUB and then find a location on your hard drive or network for the document to be saved. Enter a name for the EPUB file in the File Name portion of the Export dialog box.

  3. Click the Save button.

    The EPUB Export Options dialog box appears with the General options available for editing. Here is an overview of essential settings in the General tab when creating an e-pub:

    • Version: If you are exporting an e-pub that contains multimedia, choose EPUB 3.0. Otherwise, you can use EPUB 2.0.1. Although Adobe offers a proprietary EPUB 3.0 with layout option, this isn’t compatible with most popular reading devices and should be avoided unless you have a specific need to export using this format.

    • Cover: If you want InDesign to generate the cover image displayed for the e-pub, choose whether it should use the first page of the document or choose a specific image file to use instead if the cover artwork is stored separately on your hard drive or network.

    • Navigation: Choose TOC Style if you want InDesign to automatically generate a table of contents that will be used by readers to more easily navigate the e-pub file.

    • Margins: Specify any padding you want between the text and the outside edge of the reading device.

    • View EPUB after exporting: Causes the e-pub to open and be displayed in the default EPUB reader after InDesign generates the e-pub file.

  4. Click the Image tab in the EPUB Export Options dialog box.

    In the Image tab, specify the resolution that images should be set at when created for the e-pub. Also specify the location of images on the page, and any space that should be placed before or after images.

  5. Click the Advanced tab.

    Make these adjustments as needed in the Advanced tab before creating the e-pub:

    • Split Document: If you want to split a long document into individual chapters, choose the Paragraph Style to determine where each section should be divided. Otherwise, keep this at the default option of Do Not Split.

    • EPUB Metadata: Document metadata is used by EPUB readers to describe the book title, publisher, ISBN, and other information. You can enter the Publisher here and the ISBN number for your book in the Unique ID field.

    • CSS Options: If you have created Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to control the formatting for your EPUB files, you can add a style sheet. Otherwise, you can have InDesign add style definitions and create a CSS file by selecting the Include Style Definitions check box.

      Under this same option, deselect Include Embeddable Fonts because many electronic reading devices ignore them, and some electronic book stores will reject files that contain embedded fonts.

    Additional document metadata can be entered in the Document Information field. Access this by choosing File→Document Information.

  6. Click the OK button.

    The e-pub is generated. If you selected the View EPUB after Exporting check box, the EPUB file opens using your default EPUB reader.

    If the EPUB Export Options dialog box looks similar to the HTML Export window, it is because e-pubs actually use HTML as their foundation. Electronic book readers are essentially specialized browsers designed to display books formatted using HTML and CSS. All the HTML and CSS content for an EPUB file is contained within the compressed folder named with the EPUB file extension.

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