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How do you retain formating when exporting an ePub from InDesign?

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Cary Howe
How do you retain formating when exporting an ePub from InDesign?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 8:58:45 pm

I've solved the hard parts but the basics are stumping me. The problem seems to be ePub is an add on and they don't define what works and what doesn't in ePub.

What happens is I loose all formatting. Even spaces between paragraphs, all the text just runs together. I managed to "trick it" into separating paragraphs by adding in a line of white XXXX's but there has to be a better way. Also apparently it considers the whole document one long page. Why I'm guessing that is if I set up a video or audio clip to activate on a page turn they all try to trigger when I first open the book. The documentation barely mentions ePub so there doesn't seem much on formatting for ePub so short of resorting to HTML, and I can't figure out any way to insert HTML code, I'm not sure how to create blank lines like between paragraphs and how do you establish pages so it's not seen as one continuous page? I even tried adding in page breaks but it won't transfer. The only thing that worked was setting the default to start a new page for an image.

FYI, my workflow is Open Office then paste the text into an InDesign document. The text color actually came through fine it was all the formatting that doesn't translate. It translates to InDesign fine it just doesn't survive converting to an ePub. Just surprised that even paragraph spacing is wiped out.


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Dwayne Smith
Re: How do you retain formating when exporting an ePub from InDesign?
on Nov 8, 2011 at 3:33:05 am


I haven't worked on ePubs for 12 months, so things may have changed — but here are a few things that were true then :

ePub doesn't really have 'pages' in the same way as books and pdfs do. the reason for this is that epub is reflowable — the end user can control the font, type size, etc. So, you can't specify page breaks.

You can start each new chapter on a new page. But to do this from InDesign you needed to have each chapter as a separate InDesign file and then use the book function to compile and export.

You need to format ALL text with paragraph and character styles if you want to have any control over spacing and whatnot. Just laying it out on the page is not enough. This is because the CSS that InDesign builds for the ePub is generated from the styles.

The only way I found to get good control over the look of text was to break open the finished ePub — clean up the xhtml and css — then repackage it. Very cumbersome process. Things may have improved with CS5 (?)

Hope this helps a bit.


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