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Create Polished eBooks with New Features in InDesign CS5.5

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For several versions, InDesign has been able to convert your print–only content to the .epub file format. With the release of InDesign CS5.5, that process has been made much easier. Adobe expert Brian Wood shows you some of the great new features available with Adobe InDesign CS5.5.
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I’m a big fan of reading—always have been. Some of my books are worn and dog-eared from multiple passes. So when I first heard of eBooks and reading on a device like the iPad or Kindle, I scoffed. But who can stop the advance of technology, right? It’s either keep up or get out of the way. These days I’m a digital convert, reading on an iPad and Playbook. Heck, I’ve even converted all of the books I’ve written to a digital eBook format called EPUB so I have another marketplace to sell them. How did I do that? Pretty easily, with InDesign CS5.5.

Document Setup

Here are a few things (of many) to think about before you choose to export to EPUB:

  • The page dimensions of the InDesign file really don’t matter. The content in an eBook simply flows to fit within the device (that’s what’s called the “flow”). So if you meticulously set up a size that matches a Kindle, for instance, you’ll find it doesn’t look the same on an iPad, most likely. That doesn’t mean you should create your eBook content in a poster-sized InDesign document—rather, something more along the lines of 1024x768 or smaller.
  • Your document will not look the way you expect it to after your first export (see Figure 1).
  • Figure 1 What you see in InDesign may not be what you get in the EPUB Reader.

  • Master page items will not be exported with the EPUB.
  • Page numbers shouldn’t be added to the document in InDesign because the content reflows and page numbers are added automatically in most eBook readers.
  • A generated Ttable of contents in InDesign (Layout > Table of Contents) becomes a table of contents in the EPUB reader (but won’t show up in the flow of the document in most readers). You want to create a table of contents to help readers and so you can split up your eBook.

With those things in mind, let’s start to prepare our document for export to EPUB. Either create a new document or open an existing document in Adobe InDesign. You can set the dimensions of the file to “mimic” the average size of eBook readers by setting the page dimensions at something like 600 pixels wide by however tall you want. Add as many pages to the document as you see fit (obviously) (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Set up your InDesign document

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