Adobe InDesign is an excellent tool to create an EPUB document from scratch. This is particularly true if the EPUB designer is not a strong HTML and CSS developer. InDesign provides a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface that allows the EPUB designer make changes and view the results without ever having to work directly with code.
Below is a detailed video that will provide step-by-step instructions in how to create an outstanding EPUB document within Adobe InDesign.
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How To Use Adobe InDesign To Create a Highly
Customized ePub Document
Tips on Using InDesign To Create an EPUB
The latest version of Adobe InDesign, CS5.5, costs about $700. I would rate it being of medium difficulty to learn. If you are familiar with any of the other excellent Adobe products, such as Photoshop, you should be able to climb the learning curve quickly because of the familiar Adobe panel structure and user interface.
I enjoy working with Adobe InDesign to create EPUB documents because InDesign is designed with publishing in mind. It is a strong stand-alone word processing tool and can accept nearly any type of image file, even whole Photoshop .psd files.
InDesign “exports” a complete EPUB file ready to be validated. The resulting EPUB file cannot be imported back into InDesign, so complete all InDesign work before exporting to EPUB.
InDesign does a reasonably good job with images. Upon export to EPUB, all image files are converted to .gif or .jpeg (most likely), converted to RGB color mode, and downsampled to 72 ppi. I prefer to sharpen, scale, downsample, and convert all of my images to .jpeg in Photshop before I bring them into InDesign. This guarantees their final appearance in the EPUB document.
One thing InDesign needs to fix are the functions that wrap text around images. These functions appear to work on InDesign’s WYSIWG design screen, but do not export to EPUB. The only work-around in to go directly into the code and add CSS. An example of this is shown in the video.
Because InDesign’s text wrap functions don’t export to EPUB, I recommend inserting all images into the EPUB document using an EPUB editor.
Far and away, my favorite choice of EPUB editor is the freely-available Sigil. Sigil’s interface allows you to work directly with XHTML code without having to unzip the EPUB file. If you do your own EPUB creation or conversion, you’ll really enjoy Sigil’s convenient interface that allows you to perform your tasks without working directly with code (if you don’t want to) and then save your completed work as an EPUB.
The settings within InDesign are not intuitive. You probably won’t get them right unless you are shown what the correct settings are. The video here shows most of the setting that you will need.
One of the advantages of InDesign is that you don’t work directly with the XHTML and CSS. This is, however, in my opinion, also its major disadvantage. There are quite a number of special touches and corrections that cannot be performed within InDesign. If you use InDesign to create your EPUB document from scratch, you definitely need access to an EPUB editor such as Sigil to create a professional, polished, finished touch.
A few more tips:
Use a URL shortener such as bit.ly for all hyperlinks. Long hyperlinks can sometimes be broken by reflow in the final EPUB document.
Don’t worry too much about fonts. The default fonts available in the e-Reader will be used, regardless of which fonts you select.
Create all of your own styles yourself. Don’t let InDesign do it. This is explained in more detail in the video.
600 px wide by 800 px tall is generally a good size for a cover image.
Set up your initial settings for a new InDesign document to most closely resemble the e-Reader environment. Details of this are shown in the video.
You can control the layout order of items in an EPUB document by using XML tags available within InDesign. This topic is beyond the scope of this discussion.
Insert all of your metadata using InDesign’s very convenient interface for doing that.