Graphic Tips For ePub


Typography is only a portion of the content that goes into an ePub file. At the very least, there is also a cover that is a graphic. But some books also include a photo of the author, illustrations, photos, and those scrolling flourishes at the start or end of a chapter. Here are seven helpful tips for InDesign users on the graphics:

  • All graphics need to be in RGB (red, green, blue) color mode.
  • All graphics (illustrations, images, chapter ornaments – those flourishes seen around a chapter title or at the end of a chapter) need to be inline. This means inserted into the text as though it were a character. You will insert the graphic into a graphic frame then select the frame and cut. Then using your text tool, position the insertion point where you want the image and paste. Now it is inline with the text on the page.
  • Any coloured boxes or other graphic elements generated in InDesign will be ignored.
  • The Table of Contents will be generated when you convert to ePub format, so do not generate one in InDesign.
  • Anything on the art board (that is, not on the page) will be ignored. This means you can build a table of contents in a separate text box place entirely on the art board for reference while you are working. I have also stored snips of writing that I may or may not use on the art board.
  • You will want the cover image to be as big as possible without going over the max allowable limit. I first started at 1600 x 2400 pixels but it was too large and rejected by the ePub validator. I scaled down to 1400 x 2000 pixels and passed, but anything in that range should be ok. You can do the cover one of two ways – as an attached image or as an embedded InDesign file.
  • If doing an attached file, create the cover in its entirety in another application (for example, Illustrator, Photoshop, or a file generated by a graphic designer saved as a jpeg). When creating the ePub files, simply point InDesign to the jpeg file.
  • If you want to use InDesign to add the text to the cover image, create a separate InDesign document and assemble the graphic and your desired text. Save it as a separate file, then in your book document, place the saved InDesign cover file into a graphic frame (this will force the ePub creation process to read and convert both the layered text and graphic). Cut this graphic frame and paste as an inline graphic (See the first bullet in this section).

InDesign does some interesting, but predictable things with multiple elements on the page and will generally not lay them out as you have on the page unless you understand the rules. Nothing will be layered, but it will take one element at a time. Think of an ePub as a tunnel allowing only one element at a time. It will take the multiple elements and sort them into a one-at-a-time order. It is more complex than this so I may tackle it in a separate post.

Hope this helps. If you are really struggling, shoot me an email. I provide graphic and ePub services and I might have some time available to help out.

Feel free to add any additional graphic tips in the comments!

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