Understanding digital media and new technology are important in the evolving field of graphic design. Adobe’s 2014 release of InDesign includes some great new features for designing e-publications including an upgraded capability to export fixed layouts, allowing for more visual, rich content for e-publication.

This article is going to walk you through a series of Adobe InDesign Videos to show you how you can turn your print publication into an interactive e-book.


First, it is important to understand the difference between a reflowable and fixed .epub file.

A reflowable .epub file is the traditional way to export e-books and requires the designer to anchor objects and text in the order you want the book to flow. This format works well for novels because the content is primarily text. However, this format does not export designed texts like editorial well.

A fixed .epub file is ideal for designed publications like a magazine article or a photography book. It creates rich content (like a traditional reflowable .epub file) but also keeps your design elements intact. You can also export as spreads versus pages if needed.

Review overview of fixed versus reflowable .epubs here published by Adobe.

Next, we will add some basic interactivity to your publication like simple animations, a slideshow and a hyperlink. In order to do this, you will need to access a few new windows found under window > interactive. For this exercise, we will use the “animation” window, “buttons and forms” window, “object states” window, “hyperlink” window, and “SWF (Shockwave) Preview” window.

Review overview of interactive capabilities for fixed .epubs here published by Adobe.

Next, we will review the export layout options for fixed .epub files. If you have created a cover in your InDesign file, choose “Rasterize First Page” in the cover drop down menu.

Next, for a document such as the one above, you will want to choose “enable synthetic spreads” for facing pages. This option can be found under the drop down menu for “spread control.”

Review overview of export options for fixed .epubs here published by Adobe.

Finally, it is important to know that InDesign will NOT export the interactive fixed .epub file correctly for iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions reader UNLESS you have the most current upgrade installed on your computer. This upgrade was released last month and can be found here: Adobe InDesign 10.1.1 Update for CC.

Note, you must be working with Version: EPUB 3.0 and using e-book readers that are compatible.

If you are ready to keep moving forward with e-publishing from InDesign, I’d recommend looking into Adobe’s liquid layout tutorials, a wonderful capability that allows designers to accommodate multiple export formats like ipad and mobile devices across landscape and portrait layouts. 

One response to “A new frontier of Digital Publishing: A tutorial of Adobe InDesign features”

Leave a Reply