Electric Book Works Web, mobile and print publications

Working on the source files

If you’re creating a PDF ebook from a print PDF, skip straight to the next section about working on the PDF. If you’re working on the source files, though, there are a few things you can do in your document before creating the PDF that will make things easier later.

These guidelines refer mostly to InDesign. But the steps are very similar in any good typesetting application.

  1. If you are working in multiple InDesign documents for one publication, gather those documents in an InDesign Book.
  2. Use InDesign’s Table of Contents function to create an automatic Table of Contents based on your headings’ paragraph styles. You do not need to put this automated ToC on an actual page of your document. You can leave it on the pasteboard. So don’t worry about how it looks. In the act of creating it, you’ve created invisible bookmarks in your document that the PDF ebook will need in order to show the reader clickable navigation. (If you are using an InDesign Book, create the ToC in the Book’s Style Source document.) If you don’t do this, you’ll need to create clickable Bookmarks for every chapter when you work on the PDF – fine, but more time-consuming.
  3. Add the title and author of the document to the File Info dialogue box. (In an InDesign Book, add it to the File Info for Style Source document.) This creates important metadata in the PDF ebook later on, saving you time adding it when you get there.
  4. When you export to PDF:
    • Choose the ‘Smallest file size‘ PDF preset.
    • Tick the relevant boxes to include hyperlinks, automated Table of Contents entries, interactive features, and Tagged PDF.
    • Do not include any printer’s marks.
    • Do not export as spreads.
    • In the Ink Manager, choose to convert all spot colours to process colours. (This will prevent display problems with white lines from knockout effects.)
    • Save these settings as a preset to save time next time. (Call it something like “PDF ebook”.)
    • Click Export.
  5. Now open the PDF in a PDF editor like Acrobat Pro. There are a few more things to do to the PDF.
Arthur Attwell last updated 22 April 2010
This information is more than two years old, and may no longer be accurate.