Using InDesign for Print and Ebooks

by Rudy Rucker

Copyright (C) Rudy Rucker 2016


Notes word count 7,068

Notes last revised on December 5, 2016.


Introduction. 2

Making a Print Book. 2

How to find repeated words. 2

Other Proofing Issues Stuff 2

Simplify the formatting. 3

Macro to Delete Unused Styles. 3

Clean the file. 3

Text 3

Things to check in the final InDesign run. 4

Import 4

Trim Sizes. 4

Fonts. 4

InDesign Margins And Text Box. 4

Rulers. 5

Table of Contents. 5

Apply Masters. 5

Navigating via the Pages View.. 5

Preview.. 5

Clear Overrides. 5

Editing an InDesign File in Word. 6

InDesign Keyboard Shortcuts. 6

Change Margins. 7

InDesign Changing Page Size. 7

Flow New Pages. 7

Screwed up text boxes. 7

Add Pages. 7

Switch Fonts. 8

Converting Paperback INDD to Hardback INDD.. 8

InDesign Inserting Illos. 8

Sizing the Illos. 8

Placing Inline Illos for Small Illos. 8

Placing Fullpage Illos. 9

Color and Grayscale Versions. 10

Exporting a PDF Text from InDesign. 11

Exporting PDF Cover from Photoshop. 11

Exporting EPUB from InDesign. 11

Preparation. 11

Clearing Overrides. 11

Breaks. 12

Style Names. 12

One Story. 12

File Name. 12

Metadata. 12

Calibre it for Lulu and iBooks. 12

Advisable Settings. 12

Trashed Left Margin. Fonts. 13

Exporting InDesign TOC to EPUB Automatically. 13

Breaking Into Sections for InDesign to EPUB Export 13

Exporting the Images From Within the File. 13

Kindle Ebook Cover Size. 14

Editing the EPUB.. 14

Adding CSS in InDesign Save Dialog. 15

InDesign to EPUB to MOBI 15



These notes describe how I used the Adobe InDesign program to convert my book text files into PDF files that I can upload to CreateSpace so that they can be published as paperbacks to purchase on Amazon.  We used to call books like this POD or print-on-demand books, but these days that phrase isn’t used so much.  They’re just print books.

The other topic in these notes is how to create an EPUB ebook by exporting it from InDesign.

All the books that I’ve designed are listed on my Transreal Books site

These notes are a continuation of a my series of blog posts that I wrote in 2012 and updated in 2016.  You can find the first of these posts on my blog at How to Make an Ebook #1.

Making a Print Book

How to find repeated words.

Old Way: Search for “and and” and “the the” and “in in” and “an an” “was was” “like like” and so on.

Better Way: Turn on the Word Options | Proofing | When correcting spelling… | Flag repeated words checkbox. Then run Spell Check with the F7 key and every repeated word will be flagged. See

Other Proofing Issues Stuff

Tell proofer that I want to keep the serial comma.

Omit as many hyphens as you can. Spaces are usually preferred. Or splices.

living room noun, living-room adjective.

high school noun, high-school adjective.

Simplify the formatting.

Get your finished New.DOC file. You want to get rid of all the styles except for the styles you use in your InDesign file. Base the formats on a saved Stanard.RTF or Standard.DOC which you exported from an InDesign published book. I use Turing & Burroughs.RTF. To import the formats, go to Developer | Templates | Organizer. You’ll see your New.DOC file’s styles on the left. Close the Normal styles file on the left and open the Standard.rtf you’re using as your basis. Copy all these styles over to your New.DOC. Delete all the other styles in New.DOC.

Macro to Delete Unused Styles

I found a fairly good macro for this online.

The macro will leave a few Word-defined styles in place, but you can delete some of those by hand. Also if you got to Home | Styles and pop up the Styles panel, you can go down it and right click on them to find if any of them are unused, or used in only a couple of spots, and maybe delete those styles…when you delete a style the text remains, but it reverts to a Normal or Basic Paragraph style, which often is ok.

Clean the file.

Search and replace styles inside New.DOC, replace all “Normal” by “epubtext.” Use epubtitle and epubsubtitle for the start material.

Replace all pairs of spaces by single spaces. Make sure you have ellipsis symbol in place of three periods. Make sure you have em-dash in place of—. Get rid of headers, footers, and TOC (Table of Contents) field.

Make sure your chapter titles have the Heading1 format, and that no other lines have this format.


Do a search for .. or for ,. and remove them.

Also search for ., Even when ., is strictly speaking correct, it looks awkward, so rewrite to avoid it. In particular, avoid having a comma after Rudy Jr. And don’t use a comma after e.g. But usually use a comma before it. Think of “e.g.” as “for instance.”

When removing a comma splice between clauses, avoid putting in a semi-colon. Instead use a period. Or if this gets choppy, use an em dash —. Or use “, and”. Do a full search to make sure no unavoidable semi-colons remain. DO use semicolons when breaking up a sequence of three or more sentences.

Do a search for ^$^p to find paragraphs that end with a letter instead with a punctuation mark.

Do a search and replace changing pairs of spaces to single space.

Precede epubextendedquote and epubextendedquote-noindent passages with a colon wherever possible.

Use the right single quote for the apostrophe symbol indicating elided letters of a word, as in ’em and not ‘em.

Search for ”^$ to find places where you’re missing a space after a right quote.

Things to check in the final InDesign run

If possible put an odd page break before each h1 header

In your epub paragraph style, use the recommended spacing between lines.

Make sure all the epubtext-smallcaps styled words look okay.

Make sure the epubtext-bulleted passages are okay.


Prepare a nice InDesign file before you import.

Open your Standard.IDD. In the main text, do Ctrl-A to select all text, and delete it. The title page and contents will remain, also a single empty text page. Click in the first text page and use the File | Place dialog to select your source file New.DOC. The file will all try to get into that firs page. Do a Ctrl-Z to back up, and you’ll see a text-loaded icon of the full text of New.DOC. HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY and left click in the upper left corner of the text box on that first text page, and the text will paste in again, only now it will autoflow, adding as many pages as needed. Maybe.

Save as New.IDD

Trim Sizes

Cover has an extra 0.125 or 1/8 inch border around bottom, top and outward edge. This means spine, front and back are 0.25 higher, and front and back are 0.125 wider. Calculate spine width SW using a template from CreateSpace

The cover flat size is (2*width+0.25+SW) by (height+0.25.)


I used Garamond Premier Pro 12 point for Turing & Burroughs and, I think, for Be Not Content and Complete Stories. But this font has a weird capital Q. So I search and replace this by an Adobe Garamond Pro capital Q. Need to do replacement separately for regular, italic, bold.

For The Big Aha I switched to Electra 11.5. I had to purchase Electra from Linotype. Then I didn’t like Electra and I went to Adobe Cason Pro. At first I used the 12 point size, but then I decided I could get by with 11.5 points. This changed the book length from 327 pages to 299 pages.

InDesign Margins And Text Box

Be sure to put text boxes in the pages on the master page. Then, later, you can, if you like, change the size of the text box on the master and all the text in the actual doc will move to match that.

And set the margins in the Master Page. NOTE: you have to put the same setting for both the left and the right page of a Master Page spread. I’m using

Outside 0.75

Inside 0.875

Top 0.65

Bottom 0.75

My book is 5.5 x 8.5. This gives a text frame box of 3.9 x 7.1.

So center is X offset -1.95, Y offset 3.55 from text box upper left corner.


Set Edit | Preferences | Units & Increments | Ruler Units Origin to Spine. Then the height runs down from the spread’s upper left corner and the widths run out from the spine.

Table of Contents

It’s a pain in the butt to insert a TOC. I tend to always use an IDD that already has one. Something to remember: you want the TOC to not have link threads going to the front matter or going to the text. So if you’re starting from scratch, separate out a section. You can break connector threads by double clicking a “knob” on a frame. Of course there has to be a frame. Usually if you put a text frame into the master page A, then it will be there.

My Standard.IDD has a table of contents listing all the Heading1-styled sections. Assuming you have Heading1 style on the chapter titles in New.DOC, you keep the table of contents. Select the table of contents in New.IDD and choose Layout | Update Table of Contents. Eventually, however, you want to change all the “Heading” styles to “h” styles, that is Heading 1 becomes h1. This is so you can save as EPUB and have the EPUB build a TOC.

Apply Masters

To see all the spreads, select Window | Pages to see all the page-spreads in one window. You may have an icon for the pages window in one of your workspace toolbars.

You have two masters, Front and A. The Front has no page headers, and the A has headers. You can tell which master is used because it’s name is on the top of the illegible little page icons. It may be that all of them ended up with Front master. To change the others to A, use a click-shift-click to select the range. Then hold down Alt and click on the desired A master.

Sometimes the text frames get screwed up. If you reapply a master, it will overwrite the screwed up frame. Use the Ex

Navigating via the Pages View

If you double click on any spread in the Pages View, the spread come up in your main


The View | Display Performance…dialog lets you select “Fast” “Typical” or “High Quality”. Default is “Fast,” for moving things around with no lags, but the spacing looks bad. You can go to Typical or to High Quality to reassure yourself that it’ll actually look good.

Clear Overrides

 Get rid of any overloads, that is, change any Normal + Italic formatted words to Emphasis style. You can find more overloads in the Home | Styles dialog where it shows the styles on the right. Overloaded style instances have a + after their names. You can right click on this name and Select All Instances. And then you can use the style bar on the top of the page in the ribbon to change the styles of those overloaded instances to the simple underlying base style or, in the case of an Italic, to the Emphasis style.

See for a trick to avoid “local overrides” in your INDD file. Basically you want a special style with a name like “Emphasis” which include an italic setting, and you apply this style to all italic text.

In InDesign you’ll still see that text flagged as having an override; it’s paragraph type will be something like epubtext+, with the + standing for an override. You can select that text and click the “Clear Overrides” button down at the Paragraph Styles panel.

I might have some overrides screwing up the spacing after my Header 1 chapter titles. I can clear all overrides as follows. Select all the text in the story (Ctrl-A) and click the Clear Overrides button at the bottom of the Paragraph Styles panel. Before doing this, you want to be sure that your italics aren’t in the form of overrides like Normal + Italic. That’s why you want to have gotten rid of those in the DOC by replacing all Normal + Italic styles to Emphasis. If you didn’t do this back in Word, you can still do it in InDesign, see this link:

Editing an InDesign File in Word

Later you’ll find typos. If there’s only a few you might want to correct these in the regular InDesign view although there’s a bit of hassle in that it shows spreads instead of pages.

Or you can use the Story Editor window. Click in the text and press Ctrl-Y to open the Story Editor. Or select Edit | Edit in Story Editor. The prob here is that Story Editor is slow, and if you screw up a paragraph format, you might not notice.

Or—and this is what I did on Journals, which had tons and tons of revisions—I export, like, Journals.indd as Journals Husk Words.rtf. And I do a select all in Journals.indd and delete all the text, and save this as Journals Husk.indd.

And then I edit the HuskWords RTF file in Word, and periodically open Journals Husk INDD file and use File | Place to put in the RTF file and see how it looks. Note that Place by default replaces any of the RTF file styles with the INDD file styles of the same name. One odd problem is that sometimes the Header 1 styles get imported as header 1styles. Eventually I’ll want just “h1” for the header name so I can export to EPUB, but while I’m in Word, I like to have Header 1 so the Outline view works.

Before saving off the RTF file, by the way, I turn off Hyphenation in the basic paragraph style epubtext, as I’m leery of hyphens showing up a garbage symbols in the RTF. Also I set Justification to Left, as a ragged right edge file is easier to look at in Word.

The benefit of Word is that I can repeatedly do spell check, and I can check for repeated words. I try and use a Macro so that when I want to italicize something I’m giving it the Emphases style, instead of overloading with an Italic call.



InDesign Keyboard Shortcuts

Search Ctrl + F


Insert selected text into Find What box

Ctrl + F1

Insert selected text into Find What box and finds next

Shift + F1

Find next Find What

Shift + F2 or  Alt + Ctrl + F

Insert selected text into Change To

Ctrl + F2

Replace selection with Change To text

Ctrl + F3


Bold (only for fonts with bold face)

Shift + Ctrl + B

Italic (only for fonts with italic face)

Shift + Ctrl + I


Shift + Ctrl + Y


Change Margins

If you want to change the margins, for instance upping the inside margin from 0.75 inches to 0.85, do it by editing the Master page on the Pages window. If you edit form a single page in the normal view, you only change the margin on that one page.

Be sure to put text frames on your masters. You use the T (text) cursor and drag a box.

InDesign Changing Page Size

Got to File | Document Setup… and change the page size. The margins you had in you’re A Master will still be in place, but you change those later. You’ll get some overset text if you have separate Sections (or whatever they’re called) that don’t flow into each other. May need to add pages at the end of the book, end of intro, end of TOC.

Flow New Pages

When you flow into a new stretch of blank pages, click on the red + box at lower right of the overflowing page. THEN (Important) to a Ctrl + Shift + left click on the page where you want to flow into. The text box will appear. Then position mouse at upper left corner of text box and do a Shift + left click.

After this you may end up with screwed-up text boxes.

Screwed up text boxes

Sometimes you end up with two text boxes on each page, or on many pages. The text is in one of them but maybe the header is in the other. The only way to kill off the extra boxes is to delete all of the spreads through the end of the document, starting with the first screwed up page. Then add a zillion blank pages and use the Flow New Pages technique to flow into them.

Add Pages

If I do something like raise the font size, then I need to go to Pages window and add more pages to hold the text. Smart Text Reflow is supposed to do this but, as a rule, it doesn’t work. To move the jammed text out of the last written page and into the new blank pages, use the Selection Tool cursor click on the last jammed page and find a little + at the bottom. Click on that to load the text into the cursor. Then HOLD DOWN SHIFT KEY and click in the next blank page. If you don’t hold down the frikking Shift key, only one page’s worth of text flows.

It seems to work better if you add spreads rather than pages, there’s more likelihood of the flow working. Also be sure that all the new pages have text frames.

Switch Fonts

I had Garamond Premier Pro 12 point in Turing & Burroughs, and I switched to Electra 12 point. Garamond is a little lumpy and heavy and squat. Electra 12 jacks up the page count from 290 to 314. Seemed like too big. If I use 11.5 point size I only add 2 pages. Then I printed samples and decided I didn’t like Electra, it’s too puny, the lines almost break, they’re thin. Fuck! I stupidly bought regular, italic, and bold and bold italic of Electra, for $29 each. Oh well. Now I’m using Adobe Caslon Pro, which comes in at 302 pages and looks nice, at least right now I think it does. Also this font was already on my machine.

Converting Paperback INDD to Hardback INDD

Sometimes the size of the pb isn’t usable for hb. So then you have to resize the pages of your book in InDesign. And make the margins on the master pages bigger to take up the slack. Then you don’t have to change the text at all.

See cover conversion info below.

InDesign Inserting Illos

Sizing the Illos.

I size my images to fit the containers. Each page has a usable text frame whose size numbers are in the Window | Control menu bar on the top of the display when you click in that box. Remember that this size changes if you alter the margin sizes while working on the project.

It’s a good idea to size your images to be an exact fit for the box.

In Lightroom I export my images to 300 pixels per inch to the target frame size.

Placing Inline Illos for Small Illos

This isn’t quite as hard as I expected. Bascially you want to insert your image as inline text right before a centered paragraph break symbol in your text.

Be sure to turn on View | Extras | Text Threads and the Type | Show Hidden Characters so you can see any anchor links on the frames, also the paragraph breaks.

 You have your illos sized to some standard pixel count…in Saucer Wisdom section of Transreal Trilogy, I went for 4 inch (longest side) illos, and used Lightroom to size them to 1200 pixels on the longest size (could have done this with Photoshop, too, but Lightroom has the useful “Export” dialog).

In Saucer Wisdom, I had the figure captions in place and I could search for them by looking for text “Figure,” or for the style h5. Before each caption I place two paragraph breaks, one for a spacer, and one for positioning the image. I format these breaks in the “epubtextcentered” style which means no indent, and centered in the text. And I want to put my illo inline right before the second break.

But for one illo, the map for White Light, I just put in a paragraph mark at the insert point I wanted, without a Figure caption. Do note that once you put the figure in, the text below it will slide down to make room. You don’t need to put a ton of paragraph breaks to “make room” for the image. The image will be inline, and it will push out room for itself.

To place an image, I use the text cursor to place the highlight line right before that (visible because I’m showing hidden chracters) break. I do File | Place | filename.jpg. (Shortcut is Alt + F and then L.) Usually the image appears at the proper unstretched size (longest edge 4”), all anchored in place at the inline insertion point. And you’re done, and the rest of this subsection doesn’t come into play.

But about a third of the time (and I don’t know why), the image comes in oversized. Sometimes you can’t even see it, and you need to do a Ctrl + Z undo to load it back into the cursor. And then, in that worst case just do a shift click to put the image onto the screen pretty much anywhere near the insertion point you want.

Now select the black arrow cursor and click in the image to make its frame active. You now have an oversized image somewhere on the screen. Now all resize the image box to be 4” (or whatever standard size you’re using). You do this not be dragging a corner, but by typing the number into a box in the control/menu bar at the top of the screen.

Now the box will be too large for the image, so you need to do Object | Fitting | Fit Content to Frame. Shortcut is Alt + Ctrl + E. Now you have your image in a frame somewhere on the screen.

If necessary use the black-arrow cursor to click anywhere and drag the image so you can see the insertion spot that you want, that is, the spot just before that centered paragraph mark above the figure caption. Now, still using the black-arrow selection cursor, click on the black block in the upper margin of the image, and do a Shift-drag to insert the image as an inline object at the targeted spot in your text. As mentioned before, you’ve inserted an extra paragraph break where you want the image, and you shift-drag it to that.

Placing Fullpage Illos

To put in blank extra pages to hold the illos, I did a search and replace, replacing the page break (^P) at the end of each chapter with an even page break and a page break (^E^P), if I want the illo on the left, or do an odd page break if I want the illo on the right.

I make sure that I have the InDesign Selection Tool active (the black arrow). You don’t need to click on the blank target page in advance. I choose File | Place and select an image. The image loads into my cursor. Then I click on my target page and drag myself a graphics frame that fits into the text box. It’ll kind of lock into position when you get the exact width. If you lift the mouse button too soon, you get a box that’s the wrong size. It’s hard to resize the box, so just do a ctrl-Z to undo the Place action and then try again—the cursor will still be loaded with the graphic.

I’m using View | Screen Mode | Normal so I can see an image of the graphic (rather than the gray box you see in Fast screen mode).

This paragraph is optional, as you will move the frame again when you anchor it. While the graphics frame is still selected, you can use arrow keys to slide the box up and down. One option might be to have the middle is even with a point that’s 4 inches from the top of the page. Or maybe the center of the text frame. I can use the horizontal scroll bar to bring the image of the page close to the vertical ruler on the right side of the window to make it easier to set the spot. Or drag it and InDesign flashes a vertical line when you hit the middle.

To find the successive blank pages at the chapter starts I open my Pages window so I can see the blank spots in miniature and click on them. This is better than using Edit | Find | “Chapter” as that switches you to the Text cursor.]

An unanchored fullpage illo will do okay in the InDesign file and in the PDF that you export. But if you export an EPUB or an HTML, the unanchored images all slide down the end (or possibly the beginning) of the document.

Anchoring a fullpage illo.

Select the frame and the graphic inside it by clicking with Selection cursor right on the upper left corner of the box. The cursor shows a little black block when it’s in the right spot. Now you anchor it to the text by doing Edit | Delete on the frame, switching to Text cursor, putting it an insertion point in the text, and doing an Edit | Paste.


If you have a full-page illo facing a chapter start, you’re going to anchor to the page break symbol on the facing page. You need to have turned on Hidden Characters to see it.

If you can’t select frame and illo together, delete the illo, position the frame, and then use Edit | Place to put the illo back in the frame.

Or, if you’ve placed a graphic and a frame and can’t get to the Object | Anchored Object | Options…dialog, then click on the block somewhere on the top side of the frame and do a slight drag on the block with the Alt key down, and this opens the Options dialog that you want.

 You can select the frame with Select cursor and position it via the Object | Anchored Object | Options…dialog. Go to the Custom selection. Set Anchored Object | Reference Point to be the central dot in the little grid. Set Anchored Position to be the upper left corner dot on the left page of the spread grid (for putting an illo on a left page). Do X Relative to Text Frame = - 0.5 * (Width of the text frame). Do Y Relative to Text Frame = 0.5 * ( Height of the Text frame). This is X offset -1.95, Y offset 3.55 in an 5.5 x 8.5 book with margins as described in my “Margins and Text Box” subsection just below.

Once you do this you can open the Window | Styles | Object Styles, select the frame, and make a New Style and give it a name. And then in the later inserts you can select the frame go to the Object Styles Window and apply this style.

Be very aware of which cursor is active, as you have to flip back and forth. Select for the cut. Text for the Paste. Select for applying the style.

Color and Grayscale Versions

I could just make color versions, but I make grayscale versions as well for the illustrated version of The Big Aha.

I need to have the “burned” JPG versions of both sets of illos so I can copy one or the other set into the directory from which I “place” the illos into my InDesign doc—and then saving off the color or the grayscale PDF of the book as separate files. I don’t count on any automatic process to convert the color to grayscale, as each picture will need different settings to look its best in grayscale.

 My solution is to have five versions of the files!

(1 Archive) My highest quality archival large-size TIFFs,

(2 Scaled color for placing) a smaller-sized set of the images in color, sized to fit the graphics frames in my book, I make this from (1) with a Lightroom export.

(3 Scaled grayscale source) a copy of the scaled color images which I tweak in Lightroom to appear as grayscale images in Lightroom. This is a direct copy of the files in (2).

(4 Burned scaled grayscale for placing ) an exported set of the scaled grayscale source JPGs, I export these with Lightroom.

(5) The “place source” directory that the InDesign doc links to, and in this dir, I alternately copy the color files from (2) or the grayscale files from (4).

Exporting a PDF Text from InDesign

InDesign will do Export. With Word it’s better to Print… to PDF. I now think it’s good to use the more recent PDF formats, and don’t worry too much about the color management. You can go into the images compression menu and tell it to compress via ZIP rather than JPG so you don’t lose info.

Interesting trick I learned from an InDesign help file is to review a PDF as follows. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro. Then go to this dialog.

Advance | Print Production | Preflight. (Or go to Edit | Preflight after Acrobat 10).

Select Profiles tab and scroll down to PDF Analysis Click to expand the options.

Select “List Page objects, grouped by type of object” and click “Analyze”. Here’s where you can see if the images came through with lowish dpi. (Really anything over 200 is ok, I think.)

You can also check Output Preview and sweat that it’s CMYK, but I haven’t done that. Or sweat if fonts are embedded.

Exporting PDF Cover from Photoshop

Make the cover as a layered Adobe PSD file. Save it before exporting. Then do a Save as Copy PDF without layers. Not sure which preset to use. I did a Press Quality Create Space and a Press Quality Indigo.

Uploading a cover to Lightning as a PDF. Guide:

Exporting EPUB from InDesign

When saving InDesign as EPUB pay attention to the save dialog. Many settings.


Clearing Overrides

This works better if you get rid of all overrides in InDesign, that is, all the cases where you’ve added something like an italic style on top of a character style. Italics should be done with the Emphasis character style.

For FINDING the overrides you can make them visible with red cross-out by installing the script ShowHideLocalFormatting.js

To use this script you have to go Window | Utilities | Scripts | User and highlight this script and select Run Script in the panel’s menu or in the context menu.

For removing overrides, see


You’re going to be setting up line breaks between paragraphs via your styles. If you particularly want some lines to be kept together, separate them by line breaks instead of paragraph breaks.

Style Names

You can export your styles into the EPUB, but any underscore in a file name becomes a dash. So you might want to use the dashes already in the InDesign file so as to keep things as uniform as possible. Thus: use epubtext-centered rather than epubtext_centered.

One Story

The TOC will be placed in the EPUB as a hidden file and it will also be at the very end of the text. Be sure that your InDesign file contains only one “story,” otherwise you’ll see the TOC at the end of the first story, and it’s messy to have it there.

File Name

The Apple iBook site doesn’t like it if your EPUB component XHTML files have spaces in their names. And these files will be named to match the name of your InDesign file. So you should remove spaces from your INDD name, replacing them by dashes.


Use File | File Info… to edit metadata for your INDD file. Be sure to check Include Metadata on the Advanced settings of the EPUB dialog. You have to have a Published Date in Metadata. Insert this in Sigil, as there’s no spot to do it in InDesign.

Calibre it for Lulu and iBooks

The EPUB file that InDesign exports won’t pass the Lulu Validation engine, it won’t like the TOC You need to load the EPUB into Calibre, Convert to EPUB, save the new EPUB, and that one will work. You can’t open the file in Sigil after it’s been in Calibre, or Sigil will ruin it.

Advisable Settings

I turn off “Save Local Overrides,” as generally I have tried to eliminate all style overrides from my EPUB in the previous step. This can bite me in the ass if I’ve, like, centered a block of text in the InDesign file and didn’t make a style out of that. But hopefully I did that in the “Clearing Overrides” step. If I do save overrides on, it sometimes overdoes it and makes a lot of extra override styles that don’t do anything and which make my EPUB code look ugly, which bothers me.

Tell the save as EPUB dialog to keep the InDesign styles, but generally these styles won’t look the best in Sigil (the free WYSISYG editor for EPUB), but they will probably look okay in Kindle or in the Firefox EPUBReader add-on. If the fonts bother you, you can always switch to Georgia for the text, as that’s good one in ereaders---you can make this switch not in your InDesign, but in the CSS stylesheet that’s inside your EPUB file. You can touch and edit this CSS inside the Sigil software.

Another option is to tell the InDesign Save to EPUB options to add in a style file of your own, like a .css that worked nicely with your most recent ebook. The trick here is that you custom epub CSS file should have names for all the styles you used in the InDesign and which you’d want to change. The custom CSS names will take precedence over the InDesign style names.

Don’t embed the fonts, instead just be sure you’re using standard fonts like Times Roman, Book Antiqua, or Georgia.

Save in EPUG format 2.0.

Trashed Left Margin. Fonts

Sometimes when I convert my EPUB to MOBI, I get a giant left margin. Can’t figure it out.  So, brute fix, go into Calibre Convert dialog with EPUB output set, and checked the checkbox for Convert | Mobi Output | Ignore Margins. Does the fix but it  removes the extra indent on epub-extendedquote, but oh well.

When I add a general style file to the InDesign export to EPUB menu, this file is listed first in the Styles list inside Sigil EPUB, but in fact it’s listed second inside the XHTML chapter files, and it overrides them.

Make sure to change any fonts in the EPUB styles to Georgia as opposed to a mishmash of, say Georgia and Jansen.  Bookman Antiqua is okay.

Exporting InDesign TOC to EPUB Automatically

The InDesign export will create a TOC in your EPUB. But on the EPUB export dialog, you need to set the TOC Style dropdown to select the TOC style that you used to build the TOC in your EPUB. If you don’t do this, you might not see all your TOC headers in the EPUB TOC.

If, as sometimes happens (like if you’re putting your “Part” breaks at the same level as your “Chapter” breaks), you might have two successive headers of the same level (like an h2 following an h2), the save process will complain, but everything will work anyway.

Breaking Into Sections for InDesign to EPUB Export

You can tell the InDesign EPUB export Advanced menu to break on h1 or on h2. But if you have want to break at both these, or maybe on “h2 hidden from contents” as well, you can set this up by editing the Paragraph Styles in InDesign. Edit a style and go to the Export Tagging menu and turn on Split Document (EPUB Only), and then, when doing the export select the Split Document “Based on Export Tags” option.

Exporting the Images From Within the File

First of all, be sure your images are anchored to locations in the text.

Now, in the InDesign EPUB Export options, choose these selections

Preserve Appearance from Layout YES

Resolution (ppi) 150 is enough

Image size: Relative to Page (this is important)

Image Alignment and Spacing: Centered and, say, 10 pix before and 10 pix after.

Insert Page Break NO

Image Conversion GIF or JPG (They seem to give about the same file size. Only use GIF is for black and white images, and use JPG for color.).

GIF Options Palette: Adaptive (I guess)

JPG Options Image Quality: High seems better

JPG Format Methods: Progressive (I guess)


Kindle Ebook Cover Size

625 x 1000 or 750 x 1200

Editing the EPUB

Sometimes an EPUB acts funky if I try to open in Firefox EPUBReader add on, but if I put the EPUB into Calibre and then convert to EPUB, the new one works.

NEVER edit the EPUB in Book view in Sigil. Sigil is NOT a WYSIWYG editor, and it will dump bizarre crap into the code if you’re trying to edit in the Book view. Always do your edits directly on the Code view in Sigil.

Note that Calibre now has what looks like a decent code editor, although I haven’t used it much. My sense is that when Calibre saves an EPUB is sticks in a lot of weird crap…but maybe this doesn’t matter.

Anyway, the InDesign “Export to EPUB” file will ignore all the skipped lines that you had in the InDesign file. You can make up for this in various ways. If you want spaces before headers, format their style to include “before” space.

Another way to skip spaces is to shatter the EPUB file and you get a skip at each shatter boundary.

In the front matter, you’ll want to split things up, and your <p> breaks in the code won’t do it, and putting breaks into the Sigil Book View window will put weird crud in your code. Use horizontal rules.

For a rule, add this line to your code where you want a rule.

<hr class="spaced" style="width:50%;text-align:center"/>

You will need to add the following “hr.spaced” style below to your CSS style file, or you can put it into your first XHTML file.

hr.spaced {

margin-top: 2.0em;

margin-bottom: 2.0em;


You can also stick in <br/> line breaks, and epubcheck allows these.

Another issue is that you might think it looks nicer in an ebook to skip a space between paragraphs. You don’t do this in a paper book, but you might want it in an ebook. I’m ambivalent about this.

As a matter of good design, if you do put a blank line between paragraphs, it’s best to remove the indents at the start of each paragraph, as the indents are redundant if there’s a space between the paragraphs.

Don’t do both, that is, don’t skip lines between paragraphs and indent paragraphs.

 You want to control the size of the space between the paragraphs. One way to do this is to insert the following line into your main text style—mine is called epubtext.


This replaces the default line


But you do want to keep the 0pix top margin for, say, an extendedquote style that you might be using for poems, with a paragraph for each line.

Note, GOTHCA, that if you implement a space between paragraphs with the style line margin-bottom:1.0em; then you will see the spaces in the EPUB, but when you use Calibre to convert the EPUB to a MOBI, the spacing between paragraphs is gone. For whatever reason, Calibre or the MOBI readers ignore the margin-bottom field in a paragraph style!

Is 1.0em too big a line skip between paragraphs? Well, 0.75em isn’t quite enough and 1.0em is maybe a little too meaty. I guess 0.9em is better. It looks better, I think, on my old Kindle, anyway. By the way, the device does some kind of round-off, so 0.9 looks substantially smaller than 1.0.

Adding CSS in InDesign Save Dialog

I think you can do most of these changes in the InDesign Save to EPUB options dialog where there’s an additional “Extra Style” window. You can’t paste code here, but you can include a file. I made a file with some overrides, I called the file something like overrides_for_EPUB_export.css.

Below are some samples from an older file of mine like this.  But you’d do better to look at my latest version of rudyebookstyles.css online.


hr.spaced {

margin-top: 2.0em;

margin-bottom: 2.0em;



font-family:"Georgia", serif;



Or you might override for some more styles, like

p.epubtext, p.epubtext-centered, p.epubtext-noindent, p.epubtext-bulleted{

font-family:"Georgia", serif;




But be careful that you do want skips between paragraphs and no indents in all of these additional styles.

InDesign to EPUB to MOBI

Convert the EPUB to MOBI in Calibre. Or use the Kindle Previewer for the conversion.  If you use Calibre, on the Structure Detection page turn off everything, blank out the fields. On the Table Of Content page check Force use of auto-generated Table of Contents and set Level 1 TOC to //h:h1 or, if you have used h2, set it to that.

Always check your MOBI file’s look in an actual Kindle, as the Calibre preview and the Kindle Previewer desktop app aren’t entirely reliable. And the Kindle app no longer shows previews of the older Kindle devices.

You can plug your Kindle into your computer, open it in your desktop machine’s file browser, open the Documents directory on the Kindle, and drag your MOBI file in there so you can see how it looks.

If you have bulleted paragraphs in your InDesign be sure to set the Export dialog so that you export these NOT as bullet lists (which won’t work right) but as formatted paragraphs.

If, in Sigil, you set the “semantics” of your good InDesign-built Table of Contents to “Table of Contents,” then the Mobi will save this version and show it on many (not all) devices instead of the cruddy Kindle-generated TOC. 

Also, set the semantics of the start of your intro to “text” and the Kindle Go To | Beginning selection will go there.  And put a link to your good Table of Contents right in the start of the Intro so people can find it.  To do this, you need to use Sigil to split the section with your nice InDesign made TOC so the TOC has its own section and you can put a hyperlink to that location.