EPUB and HTML Export in InDesign CS5.5

Unlike PDF and SWF, the EPUB and HTML file formats still do not support high-fidelity design,typography, and layout. Despite this limitation, the eBook market has grown significantly in the last few years, due largely to the consumption of eBooks on tablet devices and smart phones.

Improved EPUB and HTML export in InDesign CS5.5 enable you to create a better quality EPUB/HTML file without having to know code. Used in conjunction with other new features like Articles, Improved Map-Styles to Export Tags, and Object Export Options, the overall production workflow is greatly streamlined, especially for those of you who want a quality export experience out of an InDesign document intended for print. It’s worth noting that the verboseness of the code is also reduced, so that advanced users and coders can work with the EPUB and HTML in a code editor, and spend less time fine tuning and “cleaning-up” the file.

The command now located under File > Export, with EPUB and HTML listed with other formats like IDML, FLA, and SWF.

Below is a list of some sub-features that you might find exciting!

Article Based Ordering

You can now choose ordering based on an Article. Earlier content ordering approaches such as “Based on Layout” and“Same as XML Structure” are still supported and have not been changed.

Book Margins

A simple margin value can be entered in Em or in Pixels.  The same value is applied for all margins—top, bottom, left, and right. Em is the best value for multiscreen compatibility. The margins use the css @page rule, which is currently only supported by Adobe Digital Editions and Opera web browser. At the time of this writing, the @page rule does not appear to interfere with any EPUB reader.

Note: Using the CSS “margin” attribute is inadequate, as it does not support top and bottom margins.

Image Resolution PPI Setting

InDesign CS5.5 provides a range from 72 (the only option in CS5), 96 (Windows default), 150 (average of eBook devices), and 300 (print and “Retina Display”) quality.

Image Size

In addition to “Fixed”, CS5.5 now supports a setting called “Relative to Page”. This sets a relative % width value based on the size of the image relative to the InDesign page width. The net effect is that images scale proportionally on different size computer screens or adjust to size of the browser window for desktop EPUB readers like Adobe Digital Editions.

Support for PNG

PNG is a new option. No compression UI is enabled when PNG is selected, as this should be used for LOSSLESS images or for images that include transparency but with better quality than GIF (another lossy format).

Cover Image

You now have some options to specify the cover image. You could use the first page of the publication, an image on disk, or have no cover image.

Break Document by Paragraph Style

In previous releases, InDesign only supported breaking upcontent by the top level TOC style. In CS5.5, any single paragraph style can be selected. This results in more HTML files contained in the EPUB package, but it can be very useful when breaking up very long chapters, which have been known to cause some EPUB readers to crash.

Place footnote after its paragraph

You now have an option to decide if  Instead of converting footnotes to endnotes, footnotes should appear after the paragraph cited.

Remove soft return

You have an option to remove soft-returns used in the InDesign document.

Support for Audio and Video Tags in HTML

Placed mp3 audio and mp4 video (h.264), result in use of HTML5 <audio> and <video> tags.

Note: While we anticipate these tags to be adoptedby the IDPF, the EPUB 2.0.1 specification does not currently support this. As of the date of this writing, only the Apple iBook application on the iPad supports the <video> tag.

New support for EPUB 3.0 J-language features

Support for vertical text and Ruby.

Support for sub-lists

Bulleted and numbered sub-lists are correctly represented as nested<ul> and <ol> in the exported EPUB/HTML. This feature works when using the native InDesign auto-bullet or auto-number feature.

Support for table headers and footers

InDesign table headers and table footers are represented in EPUB/HTML.


  • An InDesign document with a Table of Contents intended for use in print is included in the resulting EPUB file. Earlier in CS5, these were omitted in favor of the NCX manifest used byEPUB Readers.
  • A Publish Date metadata value is automatically generated though not displayed in the UI. This enables EPUBs generated from InDesign to pass the EPUB Checker validation tool. If you need to edit this, or other EPUB metadata values, use a thirdparty tool like Calibre or edit the EPUB packaged directly.
  • The command now located under File > Export, withEPUB and HTML listed with other formats like IDML, FLA, and SWF.

For a complete list, see the Export Content for EPUB in the InDesign help.

You could also have a look at the following video to have a look at the features.

Enhanced eBook authoring


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  1. #1 by Freya Anduin, Denmark on February 19, 2012 - 7:49 pm

    I ended up soving my TOC-trouble, but… and this is an important but… what the … is going on with external links? I use thumbnails and links to bigger images on the web, and they all look perfectly fine in the book. but when I view – and I do this in two different readers – some links are missing – and it is not the same links in the two readers. WHAT HAPPENS? And how do you make links work – all of them – and regardles of reader?

    and why the… is this epub thing not in the DW so that you can make a html-doc and check out the code and links directly and make sure, it looks right for epub?

  2. #2 by Danda on May 16, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    Does InDesign CS5.5 support epub cfi?

    I need to maintain some id in paragraph of the epub file, just like below:


    Is there any method to do this in InDesign? Thank you.

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