InDesign to EPUB: The Basics and Beyond

Anne-Marie Concepcion (Seneca Design & Training, Inc.)
Make Soho Complex
Please note: to attend, your registration must include Workshops.
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How do you get from a print-ready InDesign layout to a beautiful and fast-loading EPUB without tearing your hair out? Join InDesign and eBook guru Anne-Marie “HerGeekness” Concepcion — whose hair is still fully intact — for her half-day intensive session and find out!

Newbies will get a thorough understanding of the process and how to avoid the pitfalls. Experienced EPUB pros will learn new techniques, fixes, and free scripts, and how to use InDesign features to help create enhanced EPUBs. All attendees will get a handout of the main points of the presentation and all the URLs to scripts, plug-ins, and other resources.

InDesign to EPUB Essential Steps
First, using actual, real-world InDesign layouts in a live presentation, Anne-Marie will get everyone up to speed by stepping through the basic InDesign-to-EPUB workflow, answering your questions as she goes.

  • Checklist for evaluating InDesign layouts for EPUB-ability
  • Using the Articles panel in CS5.5 to control content order
  • Secrets of the Object Export Options dialog box
  • When to map styles to tags, when to ignore
  • Creating smart TOC styles
  • Choosing an EPUB editing app (Sigil, Oxygen, BBEdit, etc.)
  • Validating on the desktop

Using InDesign to Create Fixed-Layout EPUBs
Publications like children’s books, “coffee table” books, illustrated user manuals, and cookbooks are often better displayed as fixed-layout EPUBs (similar to a PDF), as opposed to reflowable ones. If your book already exists as an InDesign file (likely), Anne-Marie can show you how to leverage its features to streamline the tricky fixed-layout production process.

  • How Fixed-Layout EPUBs are different on the inside
  • Choosing a viewport size based on your trim size
  • Isolating text and images
  • Fast and accurate exporting

InDesign > EPUB Gotchas and their Fixes
If you’ve ever been baffled by why InDesign mangled something in your EPUB, join the club. Anne-Marie collects these gotchas (and their solutions) like entomologists collect bugs. You’ll learn how to solve, workaround, or simply avoid problems like:

  • Unwanted text wrapping
  • Broken cover images
  • Missing background colors
  • Incorrectly numbered lists
  • Unwanted text
  • Wonky formatting

Secret Scripts & Techniques of the InDesign > EPUB Jedi Masters
Professionals who spend their days creating EPUBs from InDesign layouts quickly learn to rely on certain scripts and obscure features to automate their work. Anne-Marie will share the best of these with you, including:

  • Smarter (free) scripts for fixing local formatting
  • Forcing page breaks
  • Scripts for adding document-wide image ALT tags
  • Generating CSS offset numbers for Fixed-Layout EPUBs
  • Using Object Styles and Groups for markers
  • GREP Find/Change automation
  • Custom workspaces, panels, and keyboard shortcuts

The Doctor Is In!
While a limited number of questions are welcome throughout the session, the final twenty minutes will be devoted to audience Q&A. You’re welcome to bring your InDesign and EPUB files along on a USB stick or CD, too, if you want Anne-Marie to open your files and take a look.

Photo of Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Seneca Design & Training, Inc.

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción owns Chicago-based Seneca Design & Training, a cross-media publication design and production studio. She is one of the nation’s premiere independent Adobe Certified Instructors, teaching hands-on classes at client sites around the world and consulting with publishers to make a smooth transition to the latest software and workflows. Her clients include the American Bar Association, Harvard Magazine, World Book Publishing, Johnson Publishing, Playboy Enterprises, the MacArthur Foundation, Penn State University, Abbott Laboratories, McDougal Littell, American Library Association, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and she’s still trying for the Chicago White Sox.

Anne-Marie is the co-host of, “The World’s #1 Resource for All Things InDesign,” which she and partner David Blatner founded in 2006. She co-hosts their blog, podcast, and videocast, and co-produces their annual Print & ePublishing Conference, attended by over 400 publishing professionals from around the world. She founded and runs a sister site,, which is a blog and newsletter (CopyFlow) for designers and editors who are using the collaborative InDesign and InCopy workflow.

Besides her books and magazine articles, she loves authoring and recording hands-on video tutorials for, the creative industry’s most widely respected provider of online video training. Her most recent titles at include InDesign to EPUB, Kindle, and the IPad; InDesign CS5 New Features; Acrobat X Essential Training; Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter; and InDesign CS5 and InCopy CS5 Collaborative Workflows.

Anne-Marie’s favorite creative outlet is DesignGeek, her free tips and techniques ezine, which she has published since 2003 and is enjoyed by over 8,500 designers, publishers and pre-press professionals around the world.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Anne-Marie Concepcion
Anne-Marie Concepcion
02/14/2012 2:44am EST

Hi everyone, thank you so much for coming to my workshop. I hope you got everything out of it that you wanted and much, much more! I know I covered a lot (especially scripts) but all the URLs are in the slides, which they should be posting here shortly. The video of the 3.5-hr session should be available too, to anyone with an All-Access pass to the show.

Let’s keep the InDesign/EPUB conversation going. Please follow me on Twitter @amarie, hang out at my company blogs at and, or if you have a question or comment, email me at I’d love to hear from you.

Picture of Anne-Marie Concepcion
Anne-Marie Concepcion
02/09/2012 12:59pm EST

Hi John, since InDesign CS5.5 doesn’t export EPUB3 or HTML5, I won’t be spending a lot of time on that. I’m going to be concentrating on the kinds of EPUBs that the iBookstore and other resellers are selling today. My guess is that Adobe is working on adding those features to the next version of InDesign, but even if I knew them, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it in this session. :D

Not sure what you mean by “alternatives to tables as images” since InDesign does export tables as tables fairly well. I will be talking about different ways to achieve print-like layouts, as well as which print-like features simply can’t be replicated or controlled in an EPUB.

Sorry about the bad link, I’ll let the organizers know.

Look forward to meeting you at the show, in my session or otherwise!

Picture of John  Cain
John Cain
02/09/2012 10:53am EST

Will the session address how new HTML5, ePUB3 capabilities related to page formatting/ table generation might be supported in InDesign export to ePUB? (Examples: will it fix that grouping image and caption don’t automatically guarantee print-like placement in eBook? Provide Alternatives to tables as images? Make Sidebar text more like the print version?) BTW – the link to your schedule page in the O’Reilly pre-conference email was incorrect: Questions for the speaker?: Use the “Leave a Comment or Question” section

Picture of Anne-Marie Concepcion
Anne-Marie Concepcion
01/06/2012 3:50am EST

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the session! It’ll be my first TOCCON. I’m so excited!

  • Publishers Weekly
  • Ingram Content Group
  • codeMantra
  • Impelsys Inc.
  • SPi Global
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Blackboard
  • Bowker
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Innodata
  • Jouve North America
  • MarkLogic
  • Newgen KnowledgeWorks
  • Océ North America
  • Temis
  • Aptara
  • Atex
  • LibreDigital
  • Media Services Group
  • MarkLogic
  • Smashwords, Inc.

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at

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