Create an ebook for the iPad

David Bradforth
17 February, 2011
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The way in which we read books has changed considerably over the last few years. Amazon claims its digital book sales are almost on a par with the traditional printed variety. While the printed word will be with us for many years to come, if you’re going on a long-haul flight, for example, it’s much easier to download a few publications to the iPad than carry a pile of books with you.

In this masterclass, we shall demonstrate how to prepare an ebook in ePub format for the iPad. Use the ePub check tool at to ensure it meets Apple’s requirements for selling via the iBookstore. We will also point you in the direction of a service to make it easier to sell your materials. There’s a global audience out there – we’ll help you reach it.

1. Create a new book Open InDesign CS5. Click File > New > Book. Select a location to store your book file – in our case we’re going for the desktop – then click Choose. This will create an empty Book file. We’re going to use this to build up the different components of our ebook.

2. Create the cover If you use InDesign CS5 to create your cover, you must export the cover from InDesign as a JPEG, then import it back in. Open the file and click File > Export. Select JPEG format. Click Save. Create a new file in the same page size and import the JPEG. Save this as your cover, then drag it into the Book panel.

3. Split up your content When preparing an ePub you need to split your file up into separate chapters. Keep the cover as a file in its own right, then an introduction page (if you have one), followed by the chapters themselves. Contents for ebooks are dealt with in a slightly different fashion to printed books.

4. Styles One of the main differences between print and digital books is that in a printed book you have full control over the look and feel. For an ebook, keep to one base font – the reader will ultimately be able to change it anyway. Sizes and character styles (bold, italic) will be pulled through to the final file.

5. Text flow The ePub format is linear, assuming that everything is presented as a continual flow of text. In InDesign CS5 make sure you create a single text story for each chapter, so a page break is generated for each section in the book. If your layout is more complicated, the ePub reads from left to right then top to bottom.

6. Page numbers Page numbers are largely irrelevant in ebooks. To ensure the page numbers from your printed book do not appear in the ebook, delete them (and any header/footer on each page) prior to exporting to ePub. If your text refers to a specific page number, remember to change it to refer to a chapter subhead instead.

7. Place your images Click the frame containing the image. Select Edit > Cut. Click within your body text in the spot you wish to paste it – the beginning of a line is best. Click Edit > Paste. For more control, select the image, choose Object > Anchored Object > Options. Here you can alter the image position in more detail.

8. Table of contents An ebook’s table of contents is, essentially, a list of the chapter names within your book. If you name each chapter file as its heading you can then order them within the book by dragging and dropping. A preview of the ebook will show the contents based on the filenames and in the order as set in InDesign.

9. Add metadata Select File > File Info. This opens the File Information dialog, which lets you enter the document title, description, author name, keywords and copyright notice details. Keep your metadata to the point – it will be used by stores to search for information and is a useful selling tool. Click OK when done.

10. Check your files Browse through the Book panel in InDesign. You should by now have the contents of your ebook all listed; double-click each to ensure the content and formatting is correct. Ensure styles are correct for all text and that each chapter is in place. Make sure page numbers are removed.

11. Export your ePub file In the Book panel, open the context menu then select Export Book to EPUB. From the General tab ensure Include Document Metadata is selected. If you are publishing the book yourself, enter your name as the Publisher Entry and if you have an ISBN number enter this as the Unique Identifier.

12. Format images Click the Images tab. Ensure there is a tick next to Formatted and Image Conversion is set to Automatic. This will allow the application to create ebook-ready images for your files. You can help by ensuring all images are RGB rather than CMYK. From the Contents tab select XHTML as the ebook format.

13. Start the export Click the Export button and your ePub file will saved to your desktop. If you have Adobe Digital Editions (a free download is at you can view the file from your desktop before sending it to your iPad. This will allow you to make tweaks before submitting it for commercial distribution.

Drag the finished ebook to iTunes. Plug in your iPad then synchronise changes. This will send the ebook to your iPad. Open iBooks and the book will be waiting. Open the file to confirm everything appears as expected.


2 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Dan says:

    At the end of the article you refer to a boxout that will provide details on selling ebooks – but there is no boxout or a link to one. Mind including it?

  2. AMW staff says:

    Sorry, that reference to the boxout was included by mistake.

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