EPUB Basics in CS5.5: The Articles Panel
Today, many of us are learning how to turn books which were created for print publishing into eBooks—either EPUB files used by most eReaders like the iBooks on the iPad/iPhone or Mobi files used by the Kindle. InDesign is one of the best sources for creating EPUB files because it’s had the ability to export EPUBs since InDesign CS4. However, as was pointed out in the InDesignSecrets.com posting when InDesign CS5.5 was released, there are major improvements in EPUB creation in CS5.5—so much so that I’d suggest using the new version if at all possible. (This posting will focus InDesign CS5.5. For more on creating EPUB files from InDesign CS4 and CS5, here are some good resources available for learning more: eBooks, webinars, and Lynda.com videos.)
In InDesign CS4, the only way to define the layout order of page objects in an EPUB file is the positioning of page items on the page. Below is a sample page to be made into an EPUB:
When exporting using Layout Order, page objects are ordered with the left-most exported first (from top to bottom), and the order progresses to the right, as shown below. I’m using the free Adobe Digital Editions application as a way of getting a “quick proof” of the EPUB file.
In InDesign CS5, you also have the option of defining EPUB export order of text and graphics using XML structure. Most of us don’t work with XML so while this can be made to work, it’s not at all intuitive, and it’s not especially fast to use.
InDesign CS5.5 adds a third method of picking export order which is both more intuitive and a big time saver—the order of page objects as defined on the new Articles panel. One of the books which I was recently tasked to turn into an EPUB is a perfect example of this. In this posting, I’m focusing on how it can be used to define the ordering of an EPUB file, but the Articles panel can also be used to define the export order for HTML and accessible PDF files as well.
The book I was converting had 128 short chapters. The good news was that the book creator did a good job of using paragraph styles. The bad news was that, if I used Page Layout as the basis for ordering, that I would have to completely rearrange the order of objects in each chapter if I used InDesign CS4 or CS5. Here’s a sample of the print document:
Using Page Layout order, here’s how it looks as an EPUB file:
A much better solution was provided by the Articles panel. When I opened up the document in InDesign CS5.5, I could simply drag the page objects in the chapter to create a new article. When you drag the first object onto the panel, you give the article a name.
You can drag other objects (or multiple objects) into the panel and arrange them in the order you want. I chose to turn the graphic which was used as a drop cap element into a text drop cap so I didn’t drag that graphic into the article.
Now, when you choose File > Export > EPUB in InDesign CS5.5, you choose the Same As Articles Panel ordering:
For this short chapter, the only changes I made in InDesign were to add a drop cap in the paragraph style of the first paragraph, and to align the image elements to the left. To do the the latter, I used another new InDesign CS5.5 feature—the Object Export Options choice under the Object menu, and selected Custom Image Alignment and Spacing.
Here was the initial EPUB export shown in Adobe Digital Editions:
Clearly, there as more work to be done, but the Articles panel can make defining export order a much easier process!