When you’re creating reflowable EPUBs from InDesign, you can choose which items go into the EPUB, and where in the order of content those items will appear. You’ll have most control and get the results you want faster if you use the Articles panel, as demonstrated in this video. Also shown is the default results you will get in reflowable EPUB if you do not use the Articles panel, and how to specify the use articles in the EPUB export dialog box.
- [Instructor] When you're creating EPUBs from InDesign, you have some choices for how to define which items go into the EPUB and where in the order of content those items will appear. You'll have the most control and get the results you want faster if you use the Articles panel. Let's check it out. Here's our exercise file that I borrowed from my good friend Anne-Marie Concepcion and her wonderful course InDesign CC EPUB Fundamentals and this file is a great illustration of how InDesign wilL export a layout to reflowable EPUB.
So without doing anything to prepare the file, I'm just gonna export to reflowable EPUB, press Command or Control + E, export to the desktop, choose Format, EPUB Reflowable and Save. I'll accept the defaults. The file opens in iBooks and the result is kind of a mess. The first thing is this colored rectangle that was the background at the top of the first page in InDesign. Then I get the photo credit, which appeared on the left side of the first page and then the order of the title and the subtitle are reversed from what they were in InDesign.
You can see the subtitle comes first here. On the next page, the Continued line appears between the photo and the caption, which are also reversed from what they were in the layout. See the caption comes on top of the photo. And we have two photos at the end of the EPUB, one here and one here. This one was supposed to appear before the last paragraph of text and this one didn't appear in the InDesign layout at all. So what's going on here. Why did my content get so mixed up? Well for starters, it's key to understand that a reflowable EPUB is a linear format.
It's a sequence of content items from first to last. So in order to get a decent EPUB, we need to be able to control which items go into the sequence and which are left out. Another key thing to understand is that master page items will not appear in a reflowable EPUB. In our simple InDesign file, there were no master page items, but if there were any, they would be left out of the EPUB because InDesing considers master page items artifacts of the page layout and not intended to be part of a reflowable EPUB.
So things like running headers and footers, page numbers and the like will just be left behind. Now, why did the content order get so screwed up? Well we can find the answer by looking in the EPUB Export dialog box. I'll just open that up again and in the General options in Content, Order, we see Based on Page Layout is selected and there are three choices here, Based on Page Layout, Same as XML Structure, and Same as Articles Panel. Based on Page Layout will put everything on the document page starting from left to right and then top to bottom in that order.
There's no easy way to be selective about what items to include or tweak the order with this method. You could change the order by moving items around on the page, but obviously this is gonna be a tedious way to work and it's gonna ruin the page layout that I had. So if you want to use From Page Layout, you'll probably want to duplicate the layout to create a version specifically for exporting to EPUB before you move items around. Now you might be thinking there's gotta be a better way and there is. Instead of page layout, I'm gonna use the Articles panel as the basis for my EPUB content order.
I can open the Articles panel by choosing Window, Articles and I'll click the button to create a new article. I'll call it A Tale of Two Dogs and make sure that Include When Exporting is selected and click OK and now I can either drag and drop items from the layout into the Articles panel or I can select them in the layout and click the plus button to add them to the article. There's also a shortcut where I can hold the Command or Control key and click to add all the items on the page at once.
So I'm gonna go ahead and do that. I'll hold the Command key here on the Mac and click the plus to add all of the items. Now I can start reordering things and removing anything that I don't want like for example this first item called text frame. This was the colored background that appeared first in the EPUB and it's this frame right here. Notice how the text frames are indicated in the Articles panel with the letter T and with the exception of the first one and the last one here, they all have the first text that appears in those frames.
Since these other two only say text frame, I know that they're empty. If an item appears in the Articles panel and I select that item in my layout, I can see where it is in the article by the square on the right-hand side and I can double-click the first empty text frame to select it. Now with this selected, you might be tempted to just press Delete to remove the item from the article, but if I do that I'll actually delete the item from the layout, which may not be what you want. So I'll undo that and instead to leave this empty text frame out of the EPUB, I'll just click it in the panel and then click the trash can.
That way it stays on the page, but it won't be in the EPUB. Now let's figure out why the rest of the items on this page came out in the order that they did. As I mentioned, when using page layout for the content order InDesign scans from left to right and then top to bottom. So after it found this empty text frame, the next thing it hit was the photo credit on the left side here and that's why it's here in the article. Then InDesign continued scanning across the page and the next thing it hit was A Tale of Two Dogs, then it hit A Bella and Barkley Story and the main body text at the same time because they're in the same horizontal position.
So when this happens, InDesign scans from top to bottom and that's why it put A Bella and Barkley Story before the main body text. Then continuing horizontally, the next thing was the photo, then the Continued line and then the caption. So let's use the Articles panel to put these items in the right order. Now, the photo credit is important, but I think it's appropriate to put it at the end. So I'll just drag it in the panel down to the bottom and as I drag, you can see the thicker horizontal lines indicating where the item will go if I release it and there it is now at the end of our content.
Next, I want A Bella and Barkley Story to appear first, so I'll drag it up, then A Tale of Two Dogs, the main body text. Let's leave the image where it is right now and remove the Continued on next page line because that's not needed or appropriate for a reflowable EPUB. So again, I'll just click it and click the trash can. Let's move the caption above the image and that's it for this first page. I'll scroll down to the second page and here we have the image of the dog playing.
That's this. But what's this next item? Remember in our reflowable EPUB, there was a mystery image that wasn't visible in the layout. If I double-click this image, it'll be selected in the layout and I can see that it's hidden underneath this other photo. So let's delete this from the article, then we have another empty text frame, delete that too, and now it looks a lot better. Let's export to reflowable EPUB again and see what we get. I'll just call this one Article and this time in the Export dialog box, for Content Order let's choose Same as Articles Panel.
Click OK and this is a lot better. First of all, the empty colored background is gone. The subtitle and title appear where we want them. Then we have the body text. But we do have one problem and that's that the images are appearing after the body text near the end of the EPUB. What we want is for the first image and caption to appear together after the second paragraph of body text. So right here. And the other photo should appear after the third paragraph. The reason it came out at the end is the story containing the body text is treated as just one thing.
Even though it spans multiple link text frames and pages, it's just one item. So to insert things like photos and captions into that story we'll need to anchor them at the right spot and that's what we'll see how to do in the next movie. But for now, we've made some good progress towards getting a better EPUB by adding the content we want to the Articles panel, putting it in the correct order, and then selecting Same as Articles Panel for the Content Order in the EPUB Export dialog box.
- 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