Create a book file

A book file is a collection of documents that can share styles, swatches, master pages, and other items. You can sequentially number pages in booked documents, print selected documents in a book, or export them to PDF. One document can belong to multiple book files.

One of the documents added to a book file is the style source. By default, the style source is the first document in the book, but you can select a new style source at any time. When you synchronize documents in a book, the specified styles and swatches from the style source replace those in other booked documents.

Michael Murphy provides a video tutorial about creating books at Book Basics.

  1. Choose File > New > Book.
  2. Type a name for the book, specify a location, and then click Save.

    The Book panel appears. The book file is saved with the file name extension .indb.

  3. Add documents to the book file.

Add documents to a book file

When you create a book file, it opens in the Book panel. The Book panel is the working area of a book file, where you add, remove, or rearrange documents.

  1. Choose Add Document in the Book panel menu, or click the plus button  at the bottom of the Book panel.
  2. Select the Adobe InDesign document or documents you want to add, and then click Open.


    You can drag and drop files onto the Book panel from an Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS) window. You can also drag a document from one book to another. Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to copy the document.

  3. If you included documents created in earlier versions of InDesign, they will be converted to Adobe InDesign CS5 format when added to the book. In the Save As dialog box, specify a new name for the converted document (or leave the name as is), and then click Save.


    You must convert Adobe PageMaker or QuarkXPress documents before adding them to the book file.

  4. If necessary, change the order of the documents in the panel by dragging them up or down to the appropriate locations in the list.
  5. To designate a document as the style source, click the box next to the document’s name in the panel.

To open a document in a book file, double-click the document name in the Book panel.

Manage book files

Each open book file appears on its own tab in the Book panel. If multiple books are open at the same time, click a tab to bring that book to the front and access its panel menu.

Icons in the Book panel indicate a document’s current status, such as open , missing  (the document was moved, renamed, or deleted), modified  (the document was edited or its page or section numbers changed while the book was closed), or in use  (if someone else has the document open in a managed workflow). No icon appears next to closed documents.


To view the pathname of any document in a book, hold the mouse pointer over the document name until a tooltip appears. Or, choose Document Information from the Book panel menu.

Save a book file

Book files are separate from document files. For example, when you choose the Save Book command, InDesign saves the changes to the book, not the documents in the book.

  • Do one of the following:
    • To save a book under a new name, choose Save Book As in the Book panel menu, specify a location and filename, and click Save.

    • To save an existing book under the same name, choose Save Book in the Book panel menu, or click the Save button  at the bottom of the Book panel.


If you are sharing book files over a server, make sure that you have a file management system in place so that you don’t save over each other’s changes accidentally.

Close a book file

  • To close a single book, choose Close Book in the book’s panel menu.
  • To close all open books docked together in the same panel, click the close button on the Book panel’s title bar.

Remove book documents

  1. Select the document in the Book panel.
  2. Choose Remove Document in the Book panel menu.

Removing the document from the book file doesn’t delete the file on disk; the document is removed only from the book file.

Replace book documents

  1. Select the document in the Book panel.
  2. Choose Replace Document in the Book panel menu, locate the document you want to replace it with, and then click Open.

Open a book file in Explorer or Finder

  1. In the books panel, select a document.

  2. From the books panel menu, choose Reveal In Explorer (Windows) or Reveal In Finder (Mac OS).

A browser window opens that displays the selected file.

Synchronize book documents

When you synchronize documents in a book, the items you specify—styles, variables, master pages, trap presets, cross-reference formats, conditional text settings, numbered lists, and swatches—are copied from the style source to the specified documents in the book, replacing any items that have identical names.

If items in the style source are not found in the documents being synchronized, they are added. Items that are not included in the style source are left as is in the documents being synchronized.

Select items to synchronize

  1. Choose Synchronize Options in the Book panel menu.
  2. Select the items you want to copy from the style source to other book documents.

    Be sure to select all styles included in the definition of other styles. For example, an object style may contain paragraph and character styles, which in turn include swatches.

  3. Select Smart Match Style Groups to avoid duplicating uniquely named styles that have been moved into or out of style groups.

    Suppose the style source includes a character style in a style group, and the documents being synchronized include this same character style outside the style group. If this option is selected, the character style is moved into the style group in synchronized documents.

    If this option is not selected, a second instance of the character style is created in the style group with options that match the style source. The character style outside the style group does not change.


    If a document contains multiple styles that have the same name (for example, Character Style 1 in a style group and Character Style 1 outside of a style group), InDesign behaves as if the option is not selected. For best results, create styles with unique names.

  4. Click OK.

Synchronize documents in a book file

You can synchronize the book while documents in the book are closed. InDesign opens the closed documents, makes any changes, and then saves and closes the documents. Documents that are open when you synchronize are changed but not saved.

  1. In the Book panel, click the blank box next to the document that you want to be the style source; the style source icon  indicates which document is the style source.
    Selected style source
    Selected style source

  2. Make sure that the items you want copied from the style source are selected in the Synchronize Options dialog box.
  3. In the Book panel, select the documents you want to synchronize with the style source document. If no document is selected, the entire book will be synchronized.


    To make sure that no documents are selected, click the blank gray area below the booked documents—you may need to scroll or resize the Book panel. You can also hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) and click a selected document to deselect it.

  4. Choose Synchronize Selected Documents or Synchronize Book from the Book panel menu, or click the Synchronize button  at the bottom of the Book panel.


Choosing Edit > Undo will undo changes only in documents that are open at the time synchronization occurs.

Synchronize master pages

Master pages are synchronized in the same way as other items—master pages with the same name (such as A-Master) as those in the style source are replaced. Synchronizing masters is useful for documents that use the same design elements, such as running headers and footers. However, if you want to preserve page items on a master page in documents other than the style source, either don’t synchronize master pages or create master pages with different names.

Any master page items that are overridden on document pages after you synchronize masters for the first time are detached from the master. Therefore, if you plan on synchronizing master pages in your book, it’s a good idea to synchronize all the documents in your book at the start of the design process. That way, overridden master page items will maintain their connection to the master page and will continue to be updated from modified master page items in the style source.

It’s also a good idea to synchronize master pages using only one style source. If you synchronize from a different style source, overridden master page items may become detached from the master page. If you need to synchronize using a different style source, deselect the Master Pages option in the Synchronize Options dialog box before doing so.

Convert book files from previous InDesign versions

You can convert a book file created in a previous version of InDesign by opening and saving it in InDesign CS5. When you synchronize, update numbering, print, package, or export a converted book, the documents it contains are also converted to InDesign CS5 format. You can decide whether you want to overwrite or keep the original document files.

Convert a book file for use with InDesign CS5

  1. In InDesign CS5, choose File > Open.
  2. Select the book file created in a previous version of InDesign and click OK.

    A warning appears if the book file contains documents saved in a previous InDesign format.

  3. Choose Save Book As from the Book panel menu. Specify a new name for the converted book file, and click Save.

Convert documents in a book file

  1. Open the book file in InDesign CS5.
  2. In the Book panel menu:
    • If you want the original documents to be overwritten during conversion, select Automatic Document Conversion.

    • If you want to keep the original documents and save the converted documents with new names, deselect Automatic Document Conversion. (The book list will be updated to include the converted files, not the originals.)

  3. Do any of the following to convert the documents:
    • Choose Synchronize Book from the Book panel menu. (See Synchronize book documents.)

    • Choose Update Numbering > Update All Numbers from the Book panel menu.

  4. If Automatic Document Conversion is not selected, InDesign prompts you to save each converted document with a new name.


Documents are also converted when you print or export the book to Adobe PDF.

Number pages, chapters, and paragraphs in a book

You can determine how pages, chapters, and paragraphs are numbered in a book. In a book file, the numbering styles and starting numbers for pages and chapters are determined by each document’s settings in the Numbering & Section Options dialog box or the Document Numbering Options dialog box. You can open one of these dialog boxes by choosing Layout > Numbering & Section Options in the document or by choosing Document Numbering Options in the Book panel menu.

For information on adding page numbering to a document, see Add basic page numbering.

For numbered paragraphs (such as lists of figures), numbering is determined by the numbered list style definition contained by the paragraph style.

The page range appears beside each document name in the Book panel. By default, InDesign updates page and section numbering in the Book panel when you add or remove pages in booked documents, or when you make changes to the book file, such as reordering, adding, or removing documents. If you turn off the setting to automatically update page and section numbers, you can update numbering in a book manually.

If the book is updated and the numbering seems incorrect, the problem may be that absolute numbers are displayed instead of section numbers in General preferences. See Display absolute or section numbering in the Pages panel.

If a document is missing or cannot be opened, the page range is shown as “?” from the place where the missing document should be to the end of the book, indicating that the true page range is unknown. Remove or replace the missing document before you update numbering. If the In Use icon  appears, someone using a different computer has opened the document in a managed workflow; the person must close the document before you can update numbering.

Change page and chapter numbering options for each document

  1. Select the document in the Book panel.
  2. Choose Document Numbering Options in the Book panel menu, or double-click the document’s page numbers in the Book panel.
  3. Specify the page, section, and chapter numbering options. (See Document numbering options.)
  4. Click OK.


If you specify a starting page number in a booked document instead of selecting Automatic Page Numbering, the booked document will begin on the specified page; all subsequent documents in the book will be renumbered accordingly.

Start numbering on an odd or even page

You can start document numbering on odd- or even-numbered pages in booked documents.

  1. Choose Book Page Numbering Options in the Book panel menu.
  2. Choose Continue On Next Odd Page or Continue On Next Even Page.
  3. Select Insert Blank Page to add a blank page to the end of any document in which the subsequent document must begin on an odd- or even-numbered page, and then click OK.

Turn off automatic page numbering in a book

  1. Choose Book Page Numbering Options from the Book panel menu.
  2. Deselect Automatically Update Page & Section Numbers, and then click OK.
  3. To update page numbering manually, choose Update Numbering > Update All Numbers in the Book panel menu.

    You can also update only page and section numbers or only chapter and paragraph numbers.

Use sequential paragraph numbering in books

To use sequential paragraph numbering for lists of figures, tables, or other items, you first define a numbered list that is used in a paragraph style. The numbered list you define determines whether paragraph numbering maintains sequential numbering across documents in a book.

  1. Open the document that is used as the style source for the book.
  2. Choose Type > Bulleted And Numbered Lists > Define Lists.
  3. Click New to define a list or select an existing list and choose Edit.
  4. Select both Continue Numbers Across Stories and Continue Numbers From Previous Document In Book.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Define a paragraph style that uses a numbered list, and apply it to the text in each document that contains the list. (See Create a paragraph style for running lists.)


To make sure the same numbered list setting is used across all documents in the book, select the Paragraph Styles and Numbered Lists options in the Synchronize Options dialog box, and then synchronize the book.

One advantage of using a book file is that you can use a single command to output—for print, preflight, package, or export to EPUB or PDF—selected booked documents or the entire book.

  1. In the Book panel, do one of the following:
    • To output specific documents, select the desired documents.

    • To output the entire book, make sure no documents are selected.

  2. Choose an output command (such as Print Book or Print Selected Documents) in the Book panel menu.

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