Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

Creating Custom Navigation Thumbnails for Publish Online

In this month’s Publish Online Project of the Month, we featured the Cyberfolio of Michel Allio, which is a super example of how to create a cool interactive showcase of your work using just InDesign.


One of the most interesting features of the Cyberfolio was how the page navigation thumbnails were different from the actual page designs. They were simple and clear, just showing the subject of the page on a color-coded background instead of a reduced version of the entire spread.


See also: How to make custom navigation thumbnails for your own Publish Online projects

This is very useful because some pages might be too busy or look too much like other pages to be instantly recognizable when reduced to a small thumbnail size. But page thumbnails are generated automatically with Publish Online, so how did Michel achieve this trick? I admit it totally stumped me and I had to ask him how he did it.

It turns out the key is to use animation. Start by creating your simplified page thumbnail design on top of the rest of the page objects. It will probably help to isolate the thumbnails on their own layer.


Then apply an animation to the thumbnail design. Remove the default trigger event (On Page Load) and don’t apply any new trigger event.


An animation without a trigger event will never play. Then you just have to select the option Hide Until Animated.


The animated object will stay hidden while it waits for an event that never happens. So it will never appear on the main page in Publish Online. You can confirm this by previewing the page in the EPUB Interactivity Preview Panel.

But since the thumbnail design is visible on the page in InDesign, it is included when the navigation thumbnails are generated for Publish Online.


How cool is that?

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of LinkedIn Learning courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Adobe Dimension.
Mike Rankin

Latest posts by Mike Rankin (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

5 Comments on “Creating Custom Navigation Thumbnails for Publish Online

  1. Thank you, great article. One thing I have noticed though in trying this is that any hyperlinks in the document are no longer clickable. I think this may be because the layer with the links is no longer the top layer in the document. Is there any advice you can give?

  2. I have a question related to this topic. Is it possible to have the same personalized thumbnails also in .ePub. I tried to export and this method doesn’t work in .ePub fixed layout format. :-( It could be very useful.

  3. Just seen some minutes ago on!

    This original trick kindly explained here by Mike Rankin has been commented too by Diane Burns in a sequence (specially dedicated to this idea) of her course “InDesign: Publish Online” [penultimate episode] on
    Her course has beed watched +54,000 times! Pretty cool for Diane!

    However, what it seems to me less cool is there’s no mention of the guy who has imagined it! …
    But no controversy! Maybe a global policy of the site not to cite sources and, personally, it’s just a comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *