What do I Need?
This basic tutorial will offer you some guidance on how to prepare
your InDesign ﬁ le for export to the ePub format, and how to
use Calibre to convert your ePub ﬁ le to the Mobi format. The
ePub format is readable by: the Kobo eReader, the Blackberry
Playbook, the Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony eReaders, various
Android and Linux devices, and many others. The Amazon Kindle
supports the Mobi format.
The screenshots shown in the tutorial use InDesign CS 5.5 for Mac
OS, Adobe Digital Editions, and Calibre 0.9.37. If you are using
different versions of these softwares, some of the instructions and
screenshots may be slightly different, but hopefully you can ﬁ nd
the right feature in your software version.
What is InDesign?
InDesign is a desktop publishing application which is available as
a component of the Adobe Creative Suite. It is industry-standard
software and is available for both Windows and Mac OS.
You can gain access to this software by itself or as part of the
CS suite by subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is
paid for by monthly fee.
Adobe Creative Suite:
Adobe Creative Cloud:
Adobe Digital Editions: a free e-book reader application
What is Calibre?
Calibre is a free, open-source e-book management application
that is available for Mac, PC, and Linux. With Calibre, you can
organize and manage an astounding number of different e-book
ﬁ le types in your library and sync them directly to a wide variety
of personal devices. There is some amount of e-book editing
that can be accomplished with Calibre, such as adding additional
metadata. You can also convert DRM restriction-free e-books
between different ﬁ le formats.
Calibre already has a lot of support documents and tutorials
written for its use that should be taken advantage of.
Calibre tutorials: http://calibre-ebook.com/help
Calibre demo: http://calibre-ebook.com/demo
How to Export Your Book as an ePub ﬁ le with InDesign
and your ePub as a Mobi ﬁ le with Calibre
Calibre’s tutorials also
include information guides on
the conversion of Microsoft
Word and OpenOfﬁ ce ﬁ les to
the ePub format.
In the ﬁ le format family, ePubs are unruly and reckless little brats.
ePubs are book ﬁ les written with XHTML and CSS, which, like web
sites, make them ﬂ uid and ever-changing. The exact same ﬁ le will
appear differently from device to device, depending on the physical
size of those devices and their user-imposed settings. They will
never, ever look exactly the same. Do not let this aggravate you.
They are not ﬁ xed, as well-behaving PDF ﬁ les are.
Your InDesign ﬁ le may be complete for print or PDF export, but you
need to do additional preparations for ePub export, in an effort to
retain as much of your original formatting as possible. (Although
ePub and Mobi formats support complex formatting, some complex
page formatting can be lost in conversion to other e-book formats
due to the limitations of those formats.)
Some words before you start...
Always create and use Style Sheets for styling text.
consistent use of Paragraph and Character Style Sheets in
your InDesign ﬁ les is
for your ePub export. For
more information about using Paragraph and Character Style
Sheets, download the DriveThru Preparing for Print tutorial.
The ePub export does not support layered or stacked
objects in InDesign.
If there are layered or stacked objects on
the page, they will appear as individual, separate elements in
your ﬁ nal ePub ﬁ le.
In the following pages, we’ll cover these topics to help you get started:
• Font embedding
• Preparing your cover ﬁ les
• Managing multiple ﬁ les with an InDesign Book ﬁ le (.indb)
• Document Structure:
• Adding Structure with the Articles Palette (for CS 5.5 and later)
• Anchoring artwork (inline and by drag and drop)
• Custom Object Export Options (For CS 5.5 and later)
• Building an automatic Table of Contents (for CS 5.5 and later)
• Adding Metadata
• Exporting for the ePub Format
• How to export your ePub as a Mobi ﬁ le using Calibre
• More useful information:
• Adding Structure with XML
• Adding Hyperlinks and Cross-References
While the Mobi format does not embed any fonts, the ePub format
will embed Opentype (OTF) and most Truetype (TT) fonts. It does
not support Postscript (PS) fonts. If you have Postscript fonts in
your InDesign ﬁ le, you will get an error upon export.
You can trust that the user’s reader will use its native fonts to display
your content as well as it can.
As such, it is recommended that you
NOT embed any fonts all.
It will not look exactly like your InDesign
book, but it will still be readable. If you absolutely must embed fonts,
only use OpenType fonts.
If you care to, you can try to replace your Postscript fonts with
comparable Opentype or Truetype fonts by opening <Find Font...>
in the Type pull-down menu.
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Preparing your cover ﬁ les
Converting a cover ﬁ le to ePub can be sloppy business if the cover
is made in InDesign using text boxes stacked on top of linked or
embedded images. ePubs cannot translate that layering and will
show each object one after another as best as it can.
To get around this, you can do one of two different things. The ﬁ rst
and most obvious way is to make a cover ﬁ le in an image editor,
like Photoshop. You can place that ﬁ le in your InDesign document
or put it aside for later, when you export your ﬁ le. There will be an
option to include it at that time.
The second way, which is explained here, is to place an InDesign
ﬁ le inside your InDesign ﬁ le. This is a feature available in CS3 and
later. It’s just like placing a TIF, EPS, or JPG image ﬁ le, but your
source is a page from another InDesign ﬁ le.
First, make a copy of the InDesign book ﬁ le that contains your
stacked covers. Then, in the ﬁ le you are building for export, delete
all the objects on your cover page(s). Next, place the same pages
from your duplicate InDesign ﬁ le that you just made.
<Place> can be found under the File pull-down menu at the top of
your screen. When the <Place> dialog box opens, navigate to the
ﬁ le you intend to place. If this ﬁ le has more than one page, you will
want to check <Show Import Options>, which will give you control
over which page in the document you intend to place.
Once you have selected the correct page in your duplicate
InDesign ﬁ le, click <Open>. That page will be placed as one object
in your current working ﬁ le.
Managing multiple ﬁ les with an InDesign Book ﬁ le (.indb)
If you have built your project using only one, probably very long
InDesign ﬁ le, you will be able to export your entire book without
issue. However, if you have built your project using multiple
InDesign ﬁ les, you will need to herd them together into one
InDesign Book ﬁ le (.indb). You will not be able to export your ePub
as individual chapter ﬁ les and then append them together later.
To make a Book ﬁ le, open the File drop-down menu, navigate
to and open <New>, and then <Book...>. A dialog box will open.
Name your ﬁ le and save it with your individual InDesign ﬁ les. An
empty Book pane will now appear on your screen with the name
you have assigned your Book ﬁ le.
Next, you will need to add your ﬁ les to the book pane. Click the
<+> sign at the bottom of the pane, or expand the menu from
the top-right corner of the pane, and select <Add Document...>.
Navigate to the location where you are storing your InDesign
project ﬁ les. If they are all in one location, you can select more
than one ﬁ le at once by holding down the <Shift> key. With your
ﬁ les(s) selected, click <Open>. All of your selected ﬁ les will be
added to the Book pane. The ﬁ les in the Book pane should be in
correct order as they appear in the ﬁ nal project. To reorder, you
can drag and drop the ﬁ le names in the pane. The Book pane
can automatically repaginate each ﬁ le as needed, which will be
reﬂ ected in this pane.
Managing multiple ﬁ les with an InDesign Book ﬁ le (continued)
If you continue working in your InDesign ﬁ les, updating your
content by adding and deleting pages, make sure to also update
your InDesign book ﬁ le. The Book pane can automatically
update all of your chapter and page numbering, if you are using
InDesign’s built-in pagination functions, i.e., special Placeholder
Markers available under <Insert Special Character> in the Type
If you need to update your Style Sheets and/or color swatches, you
can update your primary InDesign ﬁ le and then globally sync the
updates to the rest of your Book ﬁ les with the Book pane. To do this,
update your primary ﬁ le’s Style Sheets, then save it. Next, in the Book
pane, make sure the document icon is set to the correct document.
This is where you’re telling the Book pane to pull the updated styles
and swatches from. Then select all the ﬁ les to update. You can either
click the double arrow at the bottom of the pane, or expand the menu
from the top-right corner of the pane and select <Synchronize Book>.
InDesign will automatically update and
globally apply your style and swatch
changes to your selected book ﬁ les.
and select <Synchronize Book>.
For more information about basic InDesign pagination, see:
InDesign Help: Add Basic Page Numbering
For more information about using Style Sheets, see the
DriveThru Preparing for Print tutorial. You can also see:
InDesign: Paragraph and Character Styles
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Adding structure with the Articles Palette
If you don’t set any structure or information hierarchy in your InDesign ﬁ le, the ePub conversion will take matters into its own hands and
use its own wacked-out logic to organize your content, from left-to-right and top-to-bottom. It doesn’t deal well with stacked or overlapping
objects and will sort them out as best as it can, by that same left-to-right, top-to-bottom logic. As such, your exported ﬁ le will not appear as
you intend. For the most control and best results, you will want to impose a structure on your ﬁ les, instructing InDesign to ﬂ ow image and
text content in a speciﬁ c order. There are three ways to do this. Two are covered here:
• XML structure using tags
(see the last page of this tutorial for more information)
• Using the Articles Palette (for CS 5.5 and later)
• Flow all text using linked frames, with all graphics and images anchored either inline or by drag-and-drop
You have just made your ﬁ rst article. Looking at your Articles
Palette, you will see your front cover article with a list of page
elements underneath. If you have a complex page, you can
organize their order of appearance here. Also, if your palette is not
expanded wide enough to view the entire description, hovering
your mouse cursor over an element will give you a pop-up box
with more speciﬁ c information about that element.
The Articles Palette can be found under the
Windows pull-down menu at the top of your
screen. Open the Articles Palette and begin to
add your content, starting with your front cover.
With your Selection tool, select the placed
InDesign cover. Then click the <+> sign at the
bottom of your Articles Palette.
In the New Article dialog box that opens, name your
article with a clear description. Then click <OK>.
ticle with a clear description. Then click <OK>.
Adding structure with the Articles Palette (continued)
Your assigned Articles will be speciﬁ c to each
Open a document, make your
Articles, save, close, then open your next
document and go through the process again.
You may have some pages in your InDesign ﬁ le
with multiple objects. You can group the objects
on that page, and then add the entire grouping
as one article. To do this, select everything on
that speciﬁ c page with your Selection tool, and
then choose <Group> from the Object pull-
down menu. All of your selected objects will
now behave as one object.
With your grouped object selected, repeat the
Add Article process by clicking the <+> at the
bottom of your Articles Palette.
Again, name your article with a clear description.
Then click <OK>.
Your grouped object has now been added as one article in the
Articles Palette. If you expand your Articles Palette, you will
see that the grouped object is not only listed one object called
<group>, but that another sublist appears underneath with each
hen click <OK>.
object has now been added as one article in the
Anchoring inline artwork
When exporting an ePub, your images can shift around to some
surprising places when left with no speciﬁ c instructions. If you have
not assigned places where your images should appear in relation
to text or other objects, the export process will use its own logic in
deciding where to put them. For example, images that should always
appear next to certain paragraphs in your InDesign ﬁ le may be
bumped to the end of the chapter because the export process doesn’t
know exactly where else to put them. The solution for reigning in
this chaos is to anchor your image objects.
This is important if your
document structure is ﬂ owing text with linked frames
, less important if
you are using an XML structure or the Articles Palette.
As with everything, there is more than one way to anchor content.
In some cases, you may want your images to appear inline, ﬂ owing
with your text. This requires anchoring your images into the baseline
of the relevant text, as you might in a Microsoft Word document. It’s
entirely simple. Just select the image box with your Selection Tool,
copy it, then place a text cursor inside a text box in the spot this
graphic should appear, and ﬁ nally paste the image box in.
This is an example of a
text box with an anchored
image pasted into the
baseline of text.
This is the same text
with the anchored image
box selected using the
Selection Tool. Notice the
anchor icon at the top left-
The default pasting placement aligns the bottom of the image box
to the baseline, or bottom, of the line of text. To fully ensure that
this object will not shift in any text reﬂ ow, you can assign a speciﬁ c
value for a baseline shift in the Application Bar.
First, pull the inline box down as far as it will go. Then select that box
with your text cursor. Change the value of the baseline shift in the
Application Bar to meet your needs. The example shown has the top
of the image box aligned to the top bar of the “T.” With this paragraph
selected using the Type tool cursor, you may also want to adjust any
before or after paragraph spacing using the Paragraph Palette or
the same spacing options in the Application Bar. The beauty of this
method is that these adjustments can be saved in Paragraph and
Character Style Sheets, should you need to repeat this action.
Anchoring artwork by drag and drop
Sometimes anchoring an image into text is not the best option. There is another way to anchor images. You just grab a handle, then
drag and drop the anchor to the text location. It leaves the working InDesign page appearance as is, with stacked objects.
First, click on the image box with your Selection Tool. You will notice a small solid blue box appear at the top of your image box. Click
that box with your Selection Tool, then pull away and drop it near the text it should always appear adjacent to. As you pull, the cursor
will turn into a tiny “T.”
After you have dropped your anchor, the solid blue box at the top
of the image box will turn into an anchor icon. Now when this page
is exported, this image will always occur after this line of text.
If you have <Show Hidden Characters> turned on from the Type
drop-down menu, you will see the spot the image is anchored to.
It is marked by a hidden yen sign, “
If you have more than one image that needs to always appear
together in your book, you can group them as one object, and then
anchor the entire group into place. This tells the export process that
after a specific place in the text flow, image A needs to occur followed
by image B before any more text can resume.
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