Before you export your layout to EPUB, you can make a few tweaks to ensure that it exports properly.

  • Add anchored graphics - Anchor graphics in text flows so that you can control their position relative to the exported text. See Anchored Objects.
  • Object Export Options - Specify export options for placed objects. See Object Export Options.
  • Map styles to export tags - Map character and paragraph styles to HTML tags and classes. See Map Styles to export tags.
  • Choose content and order - Use the Articles panel to choose the content to export and order in which it should appear. See Articles. You can also order content based on page layout or the XML structure.

Export to EPUB

You can export a document or book as a reflowable eBook in EPUB format that is compatible with eBook reader software.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Open the document and choose File > Export.

    • Open a book and from the Book panel menu, choose Export Book to EPUB.

  2. Specify a filename and location.

  3. From the Save as Type list choose EPUB, and then click Save.

  4. In the EPUB Export Options dialog box, specify the desired options in the General, Image, and Advanced areas.

InDesign creates a single .epub file containing the XHTML-based content. If specified, the exported file may include a cover image. The cover image is created from an image, or created by rasterizing the first page in the specified document (or the style source document if a book was selected). The thumbnail is used to depict the book in the EPUB readers or the Digital Editions Reader library view. To view the file, you need an EPUB reader. You can also use the Adobe Digital Editions software, which you can download free from the Adobe website.


The .epub file is essentially a .zip file. To view and edit the contents of an EPUB file, change the extension from .epub to .zip, and then extract the contents. This is especially useful for editing the CSS file.


InDesign objects such as text frames and objects that contain placed images are always exported when you choose the Based on Page Layout ordering option. Empty objects are not exported unless you have applied a setting to the InDesign object via the Object Export Options to make it export as a JPEG, GIF, or PNG.

EPUB Export options

EPUB General options

The General section of the EPUB Export Options dialog box includes the following options.


Specify a version for the EPUB. 

EPUB 2.0.1

EPUB 2.0.1 is a standard approved by IDPF in 2007. This format is supported on a wide variety of devices.

EPUB 3.0

EPUB 3.0 is a standard approved by IDPF in 2011. This format also supports audio, video, javascript, Japanese vertical text. The new features however will not work on readers and devices that do not support EPUB 3.0 standard.

EPUB 3.0 with Layout

This is an experimental format created by Adobe Systems. It supports multiple-columns, text wrap, and other controls so that your layouts look good on all layouts. This feature will only work with specific viewer technologies.


Specifies the cover image for the eBook. Choose one of the following:


If this option is selected no cover image is added to the eBook.

Rasterize First Page

If this option is selected creates an image file by rasterizing the first page of the eBook to use as the cover.

Choose image

If this option is selected you can specify an image on your computer to use as the cover.

TOC Style

Select this option if you want to generate a table of contents based on the selected TOC style. From the TOC Style menu, specify the TOC style you want to use to build the table of contents in the eBook. You can choose Layout > Table Of Contents Styles to create a special TOC style for your eBook.


Specify values for the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margins in pixels. To use the same value for each margin, click the Constrain icon. 

Content Order

Specify the order in which page elements are exported

Based on Page Layout

The location of the items on the page determines the reading order.

If Based On Page Layout is selected, InDesign determines the reading order of page objects by scanning left to right and top to bottom. In some instances, especially in complex, multicolumn documents, the design elements may not appear in the desired reading order. Use Dreamweaver to rearrange and format the contents.

(Asian versions only) If Based On Page Layout is selected, InDesign determines the reading order of page objects according to the document’s binding (left to right or right to left). In some instances, especially in complex, multicolumn documents, the exported design elements may not appear in the desired reading order. Use Dreamweaver to rearrange and format the contents.

Same as XML Structure

The order of the tags in Structure View determines the reading order. See Tag page items.

Same as Articles panel

The order of elements in the Articles panel determines the reading order. Only the checked articles are exported. See Include articles for export.

Place Footnote After Paragraph

Check to place footnotes after the paragraph. If deselected, footnotes are converted to endnotes.

Remove Forced Line Breaks

Check to remove all soft-returns in the exported eBook.


Select Map To Unordered List to convert bullet paragraphs into List Items, which are formatted in HTML using the <ul> tag. Select Convert To Text to format using the <p> tag with bullet characters as text. If you have used native InDesign auto-bullets, subbullets are also included.


Determines how numbers are converted in the HTML file. If you have used native InDesign auto-numbering, subbullets are also included

Map To Ordered List

Converts numbered lists into List Items, which are formatted in HTML using the <ol> tag.

Map To Static Ordered List

Converts numbered lists into List Items, but assigns a <value> attribute based on the paragraph’s current number in InDesign.

Convert To Text

Converts numbered lists into paragraphs that begin with the paragraph’s current number as text.

View EPUB After Exporting

Opens the EPUB in the default application selected for reading EPUB, if present.

EPUB Image options

The Images section of the EPUB Export options dialog box includes the following options. From the Image Conversion menu, determine how images are exported to HTML.

Preserve Appearance from Layout

Check to inherit the image object attributes from the layout.

Resolution (ppi)

Choose the resolution of the images in pixels per inch (ppi). While operating systems have standardized on either 72 ppi or 96 ppi, mobile devices range from 132 ppi (iPad), to 172 ppi (Sony Reader), to over 300 ppi (iPhone 4). You can choose a ppi value for each object selected. Values include 72, 96, 150 (average for all eBook devices today), and 300.

Image Size

Specify if image size must remain fixed or resized relative to the page. Relative to Page Size sets a relative percentage value based on the size of the image relative to the InDesign page width. This option causes the images to rescale proportionally, relative to the width of the reading area.

Image Alignment and Spacing

Specify the image alignment, left, center, right, and the space before and space after.

Insert Page Break

Check to insert page breaks with images. Page breaks can be inserted Before Image, After Image, or Before and After Image.

Settings Apply to Anchored Objects

Check to apply these settings to all anchored objects.

Image Conversion

Lets you choose whether the optimized images in your document are converted to GIF, JPEG, or PNG. Choose Automatic to let InDesign decide which format to use in each instance. Choosing PNG disables the image compression settings; use PNG for lossless images or for images that include transparency.

GIF Options (Palette)

Lets you control how InDesign handles colors when optimizing GIF files. The GIF format uses a limited color palette, which cannot exceed 256 colors.

Choose Adaptive to create a palette using a representative sample of colors in the graphic without any dithering (mixing of small spots of colors to simulate additional colors). Choose Web to create a palette of web-safe colors that are a subset of Windows and Mac OS system colors. Choose System (Win) or System (Mac) to create a palette using the built‑in system color palette. This choice may cause unexpected results.

Select Interlace to load the images progressively by filling in missing lines. If this option is not selected, an image looks fuzzy and gradually becomes clear as the image reaches full resolution.

JPEG Options (Image Quality)

Determines the trade-off between compression (for smaller file sizes) and image quality for each JPEG image created. Low produces the smallest file and lowest image quality.

JPEG Options (Format Method)

Determines how quickly JPEG graphics display when the file containing the image is opened on the web. Choose Progressive to make the JPEG images display gradually and in increasing detail as they are downloaded. (Files created with this option are slightly larger and require more RAM for viewing.) Choose Baseline to make each JPEG file display only after it has been downloaded; a placeholder appears in its place until the file is displayed.

Ignore Object Conversion Settings

Ignores Object Export Options applied on individual images. See Apply Object export options.

EPUB Advanced options

The Contents section of the EPUB Options dialog box includes the following options.

Split Document

You can split the eBook at the specified paragraph style. Splitting results in a larger number of HTML files in the EPUB package, but can be helpful for breaking up long files and increases performance in the EPUB readers.

Include Document Metadata

The metadata from the document (or the style source document if a book was selected) is included with the exported file.


Specify the publisher information that appears in the eBook metadata. You can specify a URL for the publisher so that someone who receives the eBook can visit the publisher’s website.

Unique ID

Every EPUB document requires a unique identifier. A unique identifier is automatically created and displayed. You can remove it and specify a unique identifier.

CSS Options

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a collection of formatting rules that control the appearance of content in a web page. When you use CSS to format a page, you separate content from presentation.

Include Style Definitions

When exporting to EPUB, you can create a list of CSS styles that can be edited.

Preserve Local Overrides

If this option is selected, local formatting such as italic or bold is included.

Include Embeddable Fonts

Includes all fonts that are embeddable, in the eBook. Fonts include embedding bits that determine if the font is embeddable.

Add Style Sheet

Specify the URL of the existing CSS style sheet, which is usually a relative URL, such as “/styles/style.css.” InDesign does not check whether the CSS exists or is valid, so you’ll want to confirm your CSS setup.

Add Script

Specify the URL of an existing JavaScript. InDesign does not check whether the JavaScript exists or is valid, so you’ll want to confirm your JavaScript setup.

EPUB resources

Use the following links to learn about EPUB format.

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