August 30, 2013

A Step-by-step guide to create an Interactive eBook

Interactive eBooksA few months back, I had created an interactive eBook for iPad using different tools like Adobe InDesign, Adobe Edge Animate, Adobe Presenter, Adobe Captivate, Adobe Photoshop, and Digital Publishing Suite, and wish I could add a few more tools to this list… LOL

To be true, I had no experience whatsoever to create InDesign documents, Edge animations, and DPS folios when I started working on the eBook, but the videos available on Adobe TV and tutorials offered on came to rescue and really helped me complete my task. Now it’s my turn to give back and share my learnings with all of you 🙂

So here’s a step-by-step guide to create an interactive eBook. I’ve divided this guide in six steps to make it convenient for you to jump to the step you want to learn about.

Step 1: Setting up the InDesign document

The first step to create an eBook is to create the artwork that you will be using for background design, animations, interactions, etc. and set up the InDesign document. You need to add the tentative number of pages in your eBook and create Master layouts with common imagery for the eBook. Let’s look at this short demonstration on how to set up your InDesign file:

Step 2: Adding static content and placeholders

It’s always beneficial to finish the simple tasks first and then tackling the complex ones. So, get going with adding static images, text, and placeholders for animations, interactions, simulations, and videos. Here’s a short demonstration on how to do so:

Step 3: Adding animations

When you are creating an eBook for iPad, you have to make sure the animations are in HTML5 format. For creating such animations, you can use Adobe Edge Animate and publish an OAM file, which can further be embedded in the InDesign document. Let’s take a look at the procedure in this short demonstration:

Step 4: Adding simulations and interactions

Adobe Captivate 7 is a great tool to create simulations and interactive eLearning content. You can leverage this tool to make your eLearning truly interactive. Adobe Captivate 7 lets you publish your courses to HTML5 format, which can be embedded in the InDesign document as web content. Watch this short tutorial to follow along the procedure and learn about the best practices for creating interactions and simulations for eBooks:

Step 5: Adding videos

Videos can add life to your eBook. You can add demonstrations in the form of videos. Here’s a short tutorial on how to embed videos in an InDesign document:

Step 6: Creating and publishing an eBook folio

The final step to create an eBook is to build a DPS folio and preview/publish it on an iPad using Adobe Content Viewer. Watch this last video in the series to learn how to publish a folio using Folio Builder in InDesign:

Feeling inspired to create an interactive eBook? I would love to know your thoughts and ideas. Do leave a comment here to keep the conversation on…

Happy learning!

Posted by poojajaisingh12:16 AM
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  • Dave-Kurrykid

    Great post Pooja. Thank you for putting it together for us.

  • Jay

    Thank you for the informative explanation. Overall great presentation. However, a few places in the videos it was difficult to understand what was being said. It would make things clearer to have CC in addition to the audio.

  • kamal98

    Well done, very informative.

  • Park

    I see how you published it and was able to view it. How can someone else view it, and better yet how can someone else view it without the adobe viewer. An answer on the proper software or a tutorial would be great.

    • José

      I guess you could always export your inDesign document as a SWF. That could allow people to see it in a browser based pop-up

    • Louie

      This is a phenomenal video! Thank you! But with regard to Park’s question, if you are publishing & exporting for iPad/Nook readers, does this mean that you can begin to distribute your ebook to publishers for others to view on these devices? Or as Park mentions, is this only viewable for yourself or those with Adobe Viewer to read?

    • Raph Roberts

      Has anyone found an answer to this question?

      • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

        Hi Raph, you can take a look at the eBook in this iPad app:

        • Raph Roberts

          Thanks for your prompt response Pooja! If I wanted people without iPads (android/osX or windows) is there a solution for this? My organization is hoping to provide ebooks to a large number of people.

          • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

            Hi Raph… you can follow the same steps to create the eBook and then publish it for android or other devices. You’ll can get more help at Adobe DPS forums.

          • VIRENDRASINH


        • Pavan Kumar Mishra

          Hi Pooja,

          I have created an ebook in indesign and exported it in swf format, i want to add zoom in/out buttons in my book. How can i do that? Plz help..

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  • José

    😀 Thank you very much! Neatly explained. God bless

  • Ari Leos Bernstein

    Hi there, 4 questions. Firstly, would exporting your book as an ePub work as well? Secondly, are there any free alternatives to Adobe Captivate and Animate? Thirdly, can you import 3D models into InDesign? Lastly, is there a way to make books for multiple iPads and android tablets at once? Or do we have to redo the process depending on the book?

    Thank you so much. These tutorials were very helpful.

  • Lone Olstrup


    I’m working on a InDesign document with size A4 and I want to place an animation on the frontpage and export the document as an e-pub. When I try to create an article I get this error message:”The page size aspect ratio must match the folio aspect ratio.”
    I’ve also tried to create a new document in InDesign in another size and place the animation here, same problem. What to do?

  • mu90

    Hi Dr. Pooja! I have one question, is there a way for me to upload my ebook to my personal webpage without using Adobe Content Viewer? Like a HTML for example. Thank you so much! These videos really helped me!

  • wanttobuildapps

    so do I need any coding skills in addition to what you have shown in the videos? I have absolutely no knowledge of coding… will I be able to create an ebook without it? And just to clarify… the resulting ebook can be uploaded to itunes for approval to sell?

    • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

      You don’t require any coding knowledge required to create this eBook.

  • Ghell

    Hello. Is this tutorial can also apply on Android?

    • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh


  • Judith

    I can create a personal one as a gift yes?

  • Ariyo Usman Oluwafemi

    I am representing a publishing company which I have already created the ebooks on an indesign and export it to an epub format.I want to get it animated,can I import indesign or epub format inside the adobe captivate for animation?

  • Hans Frederik Munch

    Hi. Great tutorials! I have one question: can the video be auto played, so one does not have to press play?
    Thanks so much

    • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

      Yes, you can enable auto play under Folio Overlay properties.

  • lynn

    Hi Pooja,

    The biggest question I have is what is the difference between publishing the ebook to DPS versus just exporting it to an epub file?

    Second, I created a print booklet using indesign, and now it needs to be converted to an interactive ebook. Do I need to recreate the booklet and adjust the set-up for Digital Publishing?

    Thank you!

    • Abhinav Upreti

      Hi Lynn,

      The major differences between DPS versus exporting to epub is,
      with DPS you will get broad interactivity (more user engaging content), mp4
      video support, high fidelity output. DPS provides you interactivity and rich
      media display, eschewing flexibility in display for immersive and engaging
      design.Whereas EPUB provides you limited interactivity, very less support for
      video (depends on device), and the layout depends on the device. DPS provides you the output as an app that you can upload to iTunes Store or Google Play.
      Yes, a print booklet created in Indesign needs to be converted for Digital Publishing, with the use of Folio Overlays Panel in Indesign. You can create a more reader engaging content with the help of overlays such as hyperlink, slideshow, image sequence, audio, video, panorama, web content, Pan & Zoom, scroll-able frame.

  • Padma

    Dear Ma’am,

    I just wanted to check, can we create an interactive eBook using Adobe captivate alone?

    • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

      Yes, you can. But you will not be able to publish it as a DPS folio or ePUB format. You can create an interactive PDF eBook for sure.

  • seraj

    Hi, i have written a book on current affairs of the world, and now wish to publish as ebook. just need to know what will be the best way to publish ebook which have lot of images and graphics. how file should be prepared to publish on iPad and Amazon Kindle? looking for some ideas to work on it.

  • Chiara

    Hi Pooja thank you so much for your e-book guide. Very useful, interesting and inspiring : ). Is there any possibility to insert also learning objects? I was just wondering because I am collecting some ideas for an e-book

    • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

      Hi Chiara, what type of learning objects are you looking at?

      • Chiara

        Hi Pooja, thanks a lot for the prompt reply ; )
        Actually I was planning to create an interactive course of Italian for Japanese people (and if the thing goes well… I really hope so…. others will follow like… Italian for French people…for Spanish) and my idea was not to present my course through a “standard”e-learning platform to practice grammar and learn the roles. I would like to
        present some situations of real life in Italy and explain how to use the
        language within that situation….. a possible learning object for example could be…I don’t know… a slide presenting a situation “at university” and introducing some people: a Japanese student and a professor plus a short text writing: how to greet your professor in the morning? – choose the best answer….And, at this point 3 option buttons would show up…. and one of them is the correct answer. I found some websites where you can register and create your own learning objects but I am not sure if you can save them in a format that in-design supports

        • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh

          Hi Chiara,

          You can create such interactions in Captivate, publish it in HTML5 format and import it in InDesign as web objects.

          • Chiara

            Thanks a million ; ) I will do that

          • Dr. Pooja Jaisingh


  • chiara

    Hi i have an ask for you. Are you sure that it’s possible to create an interactive pdf and publish it on Ipad?? Some experts say to me that it’s necessary use an app. Are they joking with me??. Thank you so much.

  • Vijay Kumar

    Dear Dr. Pooja, Thanks for the videos above. i have few queries regarding an eLearning course i’m working. I need to simulate filling up of forms which contain text & alpha numeric characters. These forms are available on a live website that end user fills up. We record information like name of person, residence, use drop down eto select certain preferences etc. While creating an eLearning course for my users, i want to provide them an experience by which they should be able to practice filling up this form on a module that is created with captivate on a dummy screen, rather than visiting the live website. Can you guide me regarding the same or let me know a video or some other source where this has been shared. Thanks in advance for the help

  • Kenny Odlum

    Hi, can this work on a desktop browser? Or this only for iPad?

    • poojajaisingh

      This interactive eBook was created for iPad only. But you can create eBooks for Desktops as well using Adobe InDesign.

  • fadel123

    no option to make epub in captivate 9 ???????????????????

  • cwalker

    We are revising a massive, multi-chapter handbook for field
    professionals (in early childhood special education) to use either
    online or print out, and we would appreciate your suggestions for the
    best software in which to create the document.

    handbook is not particularly complicated: One volume of approximately
    250 pages will be narrative text with pages that enable users to make
    notes online. A second volume will be a collection of pdfs and other
    files for use as reference. Both volumes will contain live links to a
    variety of web-based resources (resource centers, regulations, etc.) and
    will ideally link to an interactive glossary of terms and acronyms. In
    the future, we may want to add video and/or audio clips to the first
    volume. An additional challenge is that the document be accessible to
    the visually impaired–that is, compliant with Section 508 of the
    Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring that federal agencies make their
    electronic and information technology accessible to people with

    The handbook sections will be
    posted for access and download on two websites. Some users will access
    and use the document on their mobile devices; others will print and keep
    it in binders as a desk reference and training resource.

    text originates in Microsoft Word, and we originally planned to format
    the handbook in InDesign, save it as a pdf, create writable pages in
    Acrobat and add them to the pdf. But as we considered versatility and
    users’ growing preference to access information on all of their
    electronic devices, we wondered if a different program would be more
    appropriate. We also use Captivate extensively for our online course
    modules and considered creating the handbook in ebook format.

    we on the right track, and do you have other, better suggestions? Thank you!

    • Calibre. You just need to know a bit of xhtml and css.

  • sujith svp

    wow…!! great tutorials. And nice presentation. But I have one doubt again and again.
    How to make a responsive Ebook without coding. 🙁

  • RemVinny

    I’d like to know if AE character animated content can be added to an eBook? Also, for the extreme novice, which software should be learned prior to using InDesign?

  • Marcelo Dionisio

    is it too heavy ? you can add any kind of videos ? how many in a 300 pages book ?

  • Traci Takacs

    Thanks. I already own the Adobe software, bought the whole suite, only to use Photoshop. I am so glad to see that I can use the rest of the suite too create an ebook. I have been wanting to write an interactive children’s ebook, and did not have $10,000 to give a designer. Now I can do it all by myself. Thanks!

  • Traci Takacs

    If I have an Apple iTunes Developer or Google Play Developer account, I can just submit this ebook to them, create the ad, and voila! I have an interactive ebook for sale on the web! This is beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks so much!

  • lori

    Hello. I have created a 350 page ebook. I would like to add audio on several of the pages. When I add the MP3, I do not see a movement bar and when I publish and view, I cn hear the video but can’t stop it. Also, is there any way to make the book smaller for easier download?

  • Anil Pan

    I am a programmer. What tool(s) can I use to create an ebook that will allow me to embed code (Java, python etc) with color and code formatting? Is there any adobe product that will allow to do this? If not, what other product (s) can I use to achieve my goal. I am ready to purchase if there is any good software for this!

  • Dev Agrawal_1987

    Any solution for import 3D models into InDesign?

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