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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.
Let's make an EPUB. I have a two page InDesign document here, a work of art, with some just kind of placeholder, images, and text, let's zoom in here a bit. Let's just say that we want to export this document out to EPUB. We want to make a little nice eBook that we can put on an iPad or distribute it on our web site. This story continues on page 2, there it is, continued from page 1. Then we have Another Story all about California and the Golden Gate Bridge and this is a starred story.
People always show how to create EPUBs with really long text heavy books, so you can make EPUBs out of anything. The problem is the order that these stories are exported in. How does InDesign figure out which story to put first and then next, the pictures and the text? The problem with busy documents like this, with many objects in different alignments, is that by default, InDesign exports stories to EPUB and to HTML for that matter, in order of left to right and top to bottom actually, page by page according to the bounding box of the object.
You don't have to try and figure this out before you export, why not just export and see what happens. So we are going to go directly up to File > Export, and under Format choose EPUB. Now, I am using InDesign CS5.5, and this is a specific location where EPUB is in this version of the software. In earlier versions it's not in this Export dropdown menu, it's elsewhere in the program, but I'm going to show you a feature that is 5.5 specific.
If you haven't upgraded yet, just sit back and watch the magic. I'm going to export this out to the Desktop, and we're going to accept the default settings, specifically take a look here under Ordering, it's going to be Based on Page Layout; in other words, based on the page geometry, where things are located on the X and Y axis. For Image we will leave everything at the default; for Contents everything at the default except, we don't need to Include Embeddable Fonts, and I will just say OK.
So it opens up in Adobe Digital Editions, which is the default reader for EPUBs on most computers, it's a free utility from Adobe, and really not the best, not the most up to date, but it's fine for rough proofing, especially for seeing if things appeared in the right order. I'm maximizing the window and I'm going to reduce the size of the type a bit by clicking on this icon up here, Decrease Text Size, so we can see more in the window. First of all, My favorite dog was the first thing that appeared, then the byline, then the headline, that is just wrong.
Zoey's picture appeared inline, which is exactly what I wanted, but then we have the entire story and then this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is supposed to be part of this other story, and this dog picture is supposed to be up here with Zoey, so things are all kind of messed up. And that is because of the page layout order. Now, remember it goes left to right, top to bottom, starting from the first page, and I'm going to get out of Preview mode so we can see what's happening a little bit better.
Starting from left to right, the very first thing that InDesign encounters, other than these empty frames, which when you export from page layout it ignores, is this frame right here. Another thing that's ignored when you export to EPUB are any special attributes that we have applied to a text frame. So the rotation is ignored, the background color is ignored, it just takes this text along with its formatting and makes that the very first thing in the EPUB. The next thing that it comes across is the byline, that's why the byline appeared above the headline.
But the headline and the story are exactly the same from the left edge, then it defaulted to top to bottom, and so the next thing that appeared was the headline and then the story. Zoey appeared within the story, because Zoey is anchored in the story. I am going to go to View > Extras > Show Text Threads, so you can see that this entire group, including her caption, is anchored right here. So that's why it appeared within the story flow. Then there is the frame that says continued on page 2. What happened next after continued on page 2? The next thing was the Golden Gate Bridge.
So we go down to page 2 and you can see it happening, right now you are following along, the Golden Gate Bridge is the very first thing from the left edge of the page, so that appeared next. The little star was ignored, because it has no content, no text, no image, so that's ignored when you export based on page layout. And then the large picture and then the headline, so then the large picture appeared next, and then this headline in the story. If you want to export this document in the correct order, you could either tediously manipulate, move things around, get them in the right order yourself, like for example, move this over to the right, move that over to the right, move that to the left, or you could use this cool feature called the Articles panel in InDesign CS5.
I am going to go to the Window menu, choose Articles, all you do is create articles and drag and drop frames over. It is so simple. Let's start by dragging over the very first thing that we want to appear, which is My dog, Zoey. I want the headline to be the first thing. So we bring that over. Because we don't have an article yet, it's prompting us, oh, you want to create a new article, so I am going to call this Main story, and it brings over that text frame. Then I want the byline, and I can just drag and drop that right there.
Then I want the Main story, and I am going to bring that over there. I know that this entire group is anchored within that story. Unfortunately, we don't have any visual clue that there is a nested or anchored frame in here. I would really love to see that in the next version. Anything that you don't drag over does not get included. If we don't want My favorite dog to be exported, then we just don't drag it over. Same thing for the jump lines, we don't need to bring over continued on and so on. You don't need to bring over every single frame in a threaded story, just the first frame is fine.
And we do want to bring this picture over, because it's part of that story. Now let's start a new article. I am just going to click the New Article button down here and we'll call it Second story. And because I still had doggy beach highlighted, then it automatically added it here. That's another feature of the Articles panel that you can have the same item appear in multiple locations. So it's like copying and pasting without actually having to do it here. I am going to select that and delete it. Now, I'm deleting it from the Articles panel by clicking on the trashcan, that just means remove from the Articles panel, don't delete it in the layout.
I'm just going to bring this frame over, and this picture. And what's cool is that if I do want this star to be included, I can bring that over as well. I think I will put it right above there, and when I export it, this is going to be rasterized. that's a great feature of the Articles panel. Now let's go ahead and export our story once more. I will go to Export with Command or Ctrl+E, let's replace our existing EPUB. We are going to use the exact same settings as the first time, except for right here.
Under Ordering we are going to change to Same as Articles panel, which only becomes enabled when you have added at least one item to the Articles panel by the way, and then click OK. And let's reduce the size so we can see a couple of pages. There we go, the headline, the byline, the story, there is the ending beach picture, and then there's our rasterized image, and the other story. With the Articles panel in CS5.5 it is so much easier to manage the export order of all these elements in the busy layout, without having to completely redo the layout itself.
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