Part 1 • About eBooks
Part of Adobe’s Creative Suite of graphics software, InDesign is a page-layout application that can be used for formatting ePubs. The program can export to .epub file format directly from the File > Export menu. For laying out ePubs in InDesign, the authors recommend following the “Six Caveats of ePub,” as shown in the sidebar below.
Six Caveats of ePub
- Keep it Simple. Remember that ePub works best for text-heavy documents. The idea is to allow readers to select the font and size that they find easiest to read, then the XHTML page description language allows the contents to reflow according to the user’s font settings, tablet orientation, and screen size. In this format, any photos or media that you want to add should be considered embellishments that contribute to the theme or to the reader’s understanding of the content. Groups of related images, diagrams, and captions are best for fixed-layout ePub.
- Photos. The authors recommend planning for one photo and caption (if necessary) per page.
- Inline. When designing an ePub in InDesign, create a single text box and paste all content (i.e., text and photos) into this one text box using the Text, or i-beam, tool. Multiple objects (i.e., text and picture boxes) may wind up at the end of the document or in different places when the document is exported to .epub.
- Styles. All text in ePubs should be styled using Paragraph Styles. We recommend creating four styles and naming them the same as the XHTML tags that will be created—p for paragraph, h1 to h6 for headings, img for images, and caption for captions. The Keep Options in InDesign can be used to avoid having a photo and its caption on separate pages as much as possible.
- Table of Contents. For your book to have a table of contents that appears in the eReader or app’s Table of Contents tab, create a Table of Contents Style and include the heading (i.e., h1 to h6) styles in it.
- Cover. For best results create the cover in InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, or other graphics application and save in JPEG format. Then combine the cover with the ePub at export.
Apple’s free Pages app can be used to lay out ePubs. Pages exports to .epub directly from the File > Export menu. The authors recommend following the same “six caveats” described above when designing an ePub in Pages.
Apple iBooks Author
Apple’s free iBooks Author app for MacOS, which looks and works similar to Pages, is used to lay out Apple’s proprietary iBooks version of eBooks. iBooks have a semi-fixed layout character because readers are assumed to be using an iPad, or an iPad-sized window on the Mac version of the iBooks app. iBooks Author is only available for Macs and does not currently work on iPads or Windows. (However iPad users could write ePub eBooks in Apple Pages for iOS.) iBooks author files have the file format .iba and export to the .ibooks format for reading with Apple’s Books app.
iBooks Author supports a wide variety of media. Simply drag-and-drop photos and videos into the pages and adjust the size. More sophisticated media, such as panoramic views and rotatable 360° objects can be created with the free program, iAd Producer, or with Apple’s presentation program, Keynote.
Pressbooks is a plugin for the WordPress web-based content management system. Pressbooks is easy for beginners to use because pages can be laid out in a WYSIWIG “Visual” tab. Authors who know HTML and CSS can edit in the “Text” tab. Pressbooks is an enterprise system that supports contributions from multiple authors. Media, including photos and video, can be uploaded to Pressbooks and placed in appropriate pages. After content is created, Pressbooks chapters can be exported to .pdf, .epub, and .mobi formats, as well as .xml for authoring. Likewise files can be imported from .docx, .epub, .html, and .xml files.