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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
Anne-Marie Concepcion: One of the neat new features in InDesign CS5.5 is the ability to map your paragraph styles and character styles to CSS styles. And that goes into effect when you export a document to EPUB or HTML. And let me show you why that might be useful, with a very simple example. We have a one-page document that has just text and the text has been styled with paragraph styles. We have First and then body. Most of these paragraphs are styled with body.
We have a pull quote that's been styled with pull quote, some bullets, and some other text. What we are going to do is we are going to export this to EPUB without mapping any styles first and see what it looks like. And then we will try mapping one of the styles to a certain CSS rule that we will talk about and see how it looks differently and then I think you'll understand why this is such a fantastic feature for people who are creating EPUBSs and HTML files out of their InDesign documents. Let's start out by making a default EPUB.
I will go up to the File menu. Choose Export. You want to choose EPUB, Mapstyles.epub, Save. We are going to use all the default settings for General, Image, and Contents. I am just turning off Include Embeddable Fonts, the only different thing, and then click OK and it opens up in Adobe Digital Editions. I happen to be using the 1.8 preview version of ADE. You could see that it did a passable job. We have all of our text, we have the first-line indent in our body, and in the very first paragraph we have no indent.
We have some sort of indentation in the pull quote and we have the bullets. Now let's say though that I have created a specific cascading style sheet that I want my EPUB to use, rather than the one that's automatically generated by InDesign. I want to attach it to an external style sheet. Now this one I've barely customized at all. Actually, it's just a straight cut and paste from the one that InDesign generated for that specific EPUB. You can see that it adds a whole lot of dreck here.
If you were actually doing this for something for publication or you are doing a series of books, you would spend a lot of time in making sure that these cascading style sheet definitions were exactly what you wanted and didn't have all the extra attributes that didn't need to here. But the one thing that's different about this custom.css file is that I added a definition for blockquote. I want that pull quote to actually be in a different font face. I want it to be Helvetica or Sans Serif. And I want there to be a left vertical border to the left of the pull quote.
This is not something that InDesign can do. So what I will need to do now in InDesign is, for the pull quote paragraph style, I needed to substitute the blockquote CSS style. I don't want to make a pull quote definition in my CSS file. So, first you create an external custom CSS files. It's not required but this is normally the way you are going to use this feature. And then we are going to go back to InDesign. We are going to export the same thing, only we are going to use that custom CSS file. But how will it know that instead of exporting pull quotes, it's supposed to export blockquote for here? That is where the mapping comes into play.
I can just edit the style pull quote, go all the way down to the bottom here, and under Export Tagging I can map the style pull quote to any one of these other CSS styles. Now it can be just a plain paragraph, it can be one of these header styles, or I can swipe over here and type in anything from my CSS that I want, any tag that I'd like. Now notice though, when it's automatic, you see that it's saying that it's automatically going to export to a P or paragraph tag, and then all of the settings for pull quote will be embedded in a class definition with all of these settings.
As soon as I change it to something else, like if I say blockquote, and then click in this white area down here then all of those individual settings for those attributes for pull quote are removed. It's just going to use the default setting for blockquote or if I have added a specific attributes for blockquote in my external CSS, like I just showed you, then it will use that. So you can do that for lots of your paragraph styles is you can map them to a CSS tag that has already been set up for you, perhaps by your web developer or web designer or yourself if you're into that.
So let's just see how it works. I will click OK and now we'll go ahead and export out to EPUB again. I am going to call Mapstyles2 and then in the Content area we don't want it to just use it's own CSS. I actually want it to use that CSS file that I just showed you, that had my special settings for the blockquote. So I will choose my custom.css. It's going to take a copy of this and embed it in my EPUB, and then I will click OK and there you go.
It opened up in ADE and now you see these are my own settings, that's using Helvetica or Sans Serif fonts, a little larger, and I have my vertical line. So that's just one small example of when you might want to use the very cool Map Styles to CSS Tags feature in InDesign CS5.5. It gives you more control over the output in your EPUB and HTML files.
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