The reflowable EPUB workflow can be divided into three phases. The first one is a planning phase where you examine your content and identify the tasks needed to get from your InDesign layout to EPUB. The next phase is where you apply structure to InDesign content, choose export options, clean up potential problems, and Export your EPUB. And the third phase is where you check the EPUB, test it, then go back to InDesign to fix any issues you find, and then re-export to EPUB. In this movie, Mike offers a close look at what you might do in each phase.
- [Narrator] In most cases, the workflow for making reflowable EPUB Ebooks is more complicated than other kinds of interactive documents, but you can deliver great looking EPUBs from InDesign content if you take a thorough, careful approach. The reflowable EPUB workflow can be divided into three phases. The first one is a planning phase where you examine your content and identify specifically what you need to do to get from your InDesign layout to EPUB. The next phase is the InDesign work where you apply structure to InDesign content, choose export options, clean up some potential problems, and export your EPUB.
And the third phase is where you check the EPUB, test it, and then go back to InDesign to fix any issues you find and then re-export to EPUB. And it will probably take more than one round of fixes to address all the issues. You proceed in this manner until all the problems are addressed. When your EPUB looks perfect, then you can deliver it. Let's take a closer look at what you might do in each phase. And keep in mind that not everything has to be done in this exact order. You might have other steps to do, and it might make sense for you to move some tasks around, depending on your situation.
In the first phase, if you're working with files that were designed for print, you'll probably have to identify content that worked in print but won't in an Ebook. These are called print artifacts, things like specific page references or directions like "See Above". You might have to redesign large elements like photos or art that spans across a spread or really long tables. You might find font problems where the characters in your layout will become garbled if the user chooses a different font when they view the EPUB.
You'll also need to get licenses and permission to use assets like photos and fonts in new media. If you want to know more about font licensing issues for interactive documents, including Ebooks, check out my course Font Management Essential Training. Once you've figured out the answers to those production questions, then you have some work to do in InDesign. You might need to clean up the text to remove characters that people often use to cheat when arranging text on a page, things like multiple spaces, soft returns, and tabs which were used to make the layout look right but can cause problems when you export to EPUB.
You also need to be sure that all text is formatted with the correct styles because those styles will be used to create the code for the formatting in the EPUB, and a document with messy, inconsistent styling will produce an EPUB that not only looks bad but may be very hard to fix. To control how text formatting is handled in the EPUB, you need to set up export tagging for paragraph and character styles. This includes setting up chapter breaks. You also need to control what items in the layout go into the EPUB and in what order. The best way to do this is with the Articles panel, and you may have to anchor images in the text flow to get them to appear at the right place in the Ebook.
And finally, you need to set Object Export Options to get the appearance of page items right in the EPUB. You can rasterize items and choose things like size, position, and resolution. And in fact, this is the only way to get things like native InDesign artwork to appear correctly in an EPUB. You'll also need to add alt text to images for accessibility so assistive software can describe the image to someone with vision problems. Also for reasons of accessibility and to make your Ebook discoverable and ready-to-sell, you need to add metadata and semantic markup which helps software understand the structure of the Ebook better.
To populate the device table of contents, you need to create a table of contents style which collects all of the information you want to appear in that table of contents. Usually this means things like chapter titles, section heads, and so on. Then you can export to EPUB. Once you have the EPUB, the work of testing and fixing begins. You need to be testing the EPUB on mobile devices and in e-reading applications to know how it will display to other people. You may also want to validate your EPUB which you can do with a script, application, or service to see if it complies with the EPUB specification.
Recent versions of InDesign will export valid EPUBs. But to be on the safe side, it doesn't hurt to double-check. And it's important to have a valid EPUB since validation errors can prevent an EPUB from being accepted for sale in online stores. To format your content, you may also be developing a separate CSS at this point. As you check the EPUB, you may identify issues like incorrect formatting, missing content, or content that's out of order, problems with images, and so on. To fix each of these things, you go back to InDesign and make the changes in your source file.
That way, you fix the problem once and it's dealt with. You re-export to EPUB and then recheck. Repeat this process until all the problems in the EPUB are gone. At that point, you can deliver the EPUB. So as we've seen here, creating a professional-level reflowable EPUB is no simple task. But by doing the important work of styling and structuring content and setting up export options, you can export a good EPUB from InDesign and then finish the job by testing, fixing issues, and re-exporting.
- Overview of interactive document types, including PDF and EPUB
- Creating interactive objects
- Setting up hyperlinks, cross-references, and a table of contents
- Working with media
- Publishing documents with Publish Online
- Creating EPUBs
- Following workflows for interactivity: interactive PDF, reflowable EPUB, and fixed-layout EPUB