Author Archives: Jason

About Jason

Senior Typesetter for the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group

Tech Tips: Images, InDesign, and ePub

Object Export Options…

After setting an image in InDesign, select the image with the selection tool. At the top of the screen, click Object, and then select Object Export Options… and you’ll get the following dialogue box:

object export options

In this dialogue box, you can adjust the export options of that particular image/object when exporting to epub. You can adjust the output resolution, quality, and format. Here, you can also set your images to adjust their size “Relative to Page Width” which means that the image size will adjust to the width of any device and the different orientations of that device. Additionally, you can set the output alignment and spacing.

If you have numerous images that will all have the same export options, the same settings from the Object Export Options… dialogue box are available in the epub export settings. Those settings, however, will apply to all of the images though you can choose to not override local object export settings.

Anchoring Images

When exporting to epub, InDesign “reads” your document left-to-right, top-to-bottom and arranges the text and objects in the order in which it encounters them. This can cause some objects to appear in unexpected locations. If your text is all in one thread, when exporting to epub, InDesign will put all of your text first, then all of your images and other objects will fall to the end of the text.

To prevent this, you must to anchor your images and any other objects (tables, textboxes, sidebars, etc.). All you have to do is: select your image/object, click the blue square in the top right corner of the object, and drag it until the cursor is in the location you’d like the object to appear in the epub as shown below.

anchor before

After anchored, the object will have an actual anchor where the blue box used to be.

anchor after

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Tech Tips: InDesign Basics for ePub

The following are good habits that you should apply to your InDesign files in order to produce good ePubs. I’ve also noted the reasoning behind each step as it relates to ePub creation.

Separate Files

Set all sections of your book in separate files, including the title and copyright pages. Then, create a book file (File > New > Book) and add your InDesign Files to the book file. When exporting to ePub, the separate InDesign files will each become a separate html file. If you set your book in one InDesign file, then when you export to ePub, your ePub file will only contain one html file and, therefore, all of the sections of the book will run together, with no separation.

File Info…
Open the first file in your book. Go to File > File Info… and fill in the Document Title and Author fields. The title and author information will be added to the ePub’s metadata in the content.opf file. Without this information in the content.opf file, when viewing your epub, the reader will display “Unknown” instead of the title or author.

Style Everything!
Create and apply paragraph and character styles for all variations of formatted text. When exporting to ePub, your styles will become the basis for the stylesheets file in the ePub. If you format all of your text by hand, not using styles, then when exporting to ePub, the stylesheets file will be full of generically named styles, which makes it difficult to make adjustments to your ePub after it’s been created. This also applies to objects and tables, so be sure to use Table and Cell styles as well as Object styles.

TOC Styles
Again, in the first file in your book, go to Layout > Table of Contents Styles… and click “New…” Find your chapter title paragraph style, select it, and click “<<Add”. Click “Include Book Documents” at the bottom of the window and click OK. The newly created TOC style will be used to generate the toc.ncx file in the ePub, which displays the navigation table of contents in the e-reader.

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Tech Tips: What is an ePub?

In the coming weeks, I’ll be contributing a series of entries discussing how to set-up your InDesign files to create ePubs that require minimal interaction with the xhtml code. I will also show you how following those steps in InDesign will translate to your ePub file. But, first, I think it’s important to fully understand what an ePub actually is.

ePub is the standard e-book format established by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). ePubs are files (with the extension .epub) that display reflowable content across many different eReaders (Apple iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.). The reflowable content can be optimized to the display of the device or to meet the reader’s needs.

An ePub is essentially a collection of files zipped into a single file. You can see all of the inner workings of an ePub by simply changing the file extension from .epub to .zip and unzipping the file. The preferred method would be to view the contents through an XML editor. I use Oxygen XML editor, but a good and free ePub editing tool is Sigil. These programs allow you to open and edit an ePub without unzipping it. (Unzipping an ePub can lead to some issues because you’re required to re-zipped in a particular order. This has to be done manually through command-line prompts.)

An ePub file contains the following files and folders:

    Mimetype: identifies the package as an ePub
    META-INF folder: usually only contains the container.xml file
    Container.xml: points to the file defining the contents of the book (opf file)
    OEBPS folder: location of the content of the book
    images folder: contains the ePub’s images
    html/xhtml files: these are the text files of the book
    .css file (cascading style sheets): defines the formatting of the text and other layout attributes
    .opf file: XML file that list all of the files that are contained in the ePub and specifies the order in which the html/xhtml files should appear. This file also contains the book’s metadata
    toc.ncx: XML file containing the navigational table of contents

Image

The above ePub structure is the ePub version 2.0.1 structure. There are some changes with the newly developed ePub 3.0 specifiations which expands ePub to include html5 elements such as audio and video. For now, I will focus on ePub 2.0.1.

In my next post, I will focus on some general good practices to follow when setting up your InDesign files.

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