InDesign is an amazing tool, especially when it comes to creating ebooks. You can seamlessly flow text from one page to another, add interactive elements like links, and you can set up your document so specific elements repeat on each page.
But if you don’t know how to use these tools, creating an ebook in InDesign can be a little, well… clunky. But that’s why I’m here! These are 6 basic InDesign tools that will make your ebook creation process at least a little faster.
Master Pages is a setting you can apply to the working pages in your document. Typically they’re referred to as A-Master, B-Master, C-Master, etc. You can add objects and text to your master pages, and all of those elements will be applied to the rest of your document.
Typically when you set up your InDesign document, the pages will automatically have A-Master applied to them. You can check this by clicking on Pages (or going to Window > Pages if it isn’t currently open in your workspace). You’ll notice an A at the top of the thumbnail for each page. That means A-Master is applied to that page.
To access your Master Pages, go to the Pages window and double-click on the pages thumbnails next to A-Master. You can also click on the thumbnail once and then the New button at the bottom of the Pages window to create a B-Master. To apply a different master to your page, simply click on the thumbnail and drag it to the thumbnail of the page you want it applied to.
Master Pages are really useful for things like page numbers, footers, and headers that you’re using throughout your document. Keep in mind that A-Master should be your most commonly used page, because it’s automatically applied to all of your pages. I recommend using your A-Master to add in page numbers and a footer that you want on all of your pages, and use B-Master if there are any graphic elements you want to add to specific pages, like the first page of a chapter.
Another important note to keep in mind: other than placeholders like page numbers, text on a Master Page can’t be edited on your working pages. So it’s fine to have something like the ebook title or author name on your master page, but don’t add the text boxes you’ll use for the content of your ebook on your Master Pages.
Once the content of your ebook is put into your InDesign document and you’re ready to format the text, Paragraph Styles will be your savior. I hate to admit how much time I spent changing individual styles before I knew about Paragraph Styles. It was too much.
To find Paragraph Styles, go to Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles. Then, format a piece of text however you want. For example, if you have a chapter heading that you want a specific font, size, and color, format it accordingly. Then highlight the text, open the Paragraph Styles window, and create a new Paragraph Style. Name it something obvious like “Chapter Title” so you can easily distinguish multiple styles in your document. Then, go to your next chapter title, highlight the text, and click on the saved paragraph style. Bam! Your formatting is automatically applied to it, without having to choose the appropriate font, size, and color each time.
The really nice part of Paragraph Styles is when you get indecisive about how you want your text formatted and want to try different options. Instead of changing each bit of text individually, you can open your saved Paragraph Style by double-clicking it and changing the style settings. Then it will automatically update any text that has that Paragraph Style applied to it! Magic!
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For a long time when I was creating multi-column documents in InDesign, I was creating two text boxes next to each other and linking them together. But it turns out there’s a much easier way!
Create a text box that’s the full width you want all of your columns to span. Then go up to your toolbar and find the icon that looks like 3 vertical columns with a text box next to it. It will likely have a 1 in the text box. With your text box selected, increase the number to 2, 3, 4, or however many columns you want to have. It will automatically divide your text up for you, easy peasy!
Hyperlinks are one of my favorite features of InDesign, because they’re so easy to add and can make your document way more functional.
To add a hyperlink, go to Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks. Then, select the text or object you want to link, open the Hyperlinks window, and then click the new button to add a hyperlink.
You’ll notice you aren’t limited to just links, though—you can also add in a link to an email address, or a link to another page in your document. This is an excellent thing to add into your table of contents, or if you make note that there’s more information on a topic in another chapter.
When exporting your document to a PDF, make sure to choose Interactive PDF instead of Print PDF, otherwise all of the hyperlinks will be removed.
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Let’s be honest, InDesign can slow waaaaay down as you’re using it, especially with long-form documents like ebooks. The book feature helps with this, so you don’t throw your computer out the window!
Instead of making one giant document with all of your pages, you can create smaller documents of page groups—each chapter could have its own InDesign document, for example. Then, with the book feature, you select all of your InDesign documents and combine them into one. It automatically updates your page numbers and everything!
To create a book file, go to File > New Book and create a book document on your computer. Once you save it, a new Book window will appear. Click on the plus sign to bring in your InDesign documents, and click on the Print button to export them to a PDF or send them to your printer!
Adobe CC Libraries
One of my favorite features about Adobe Creative Cloud is Adobe CC Libraries. When you log into your Adobe account, you have access to your own personal library. You can store swatches, styles, graphics, and more into it. And when you log into your account on another device or open another Adobe program on the same computer, all of those saved items are still there for you to use!
This is really useful for logging your brand colors and elements. No more needing to memorize the specific colors you’re using or opening your style guide to copy and paste different vector graphics! Save them to your Adobe CC Libraries and then drag them into place whenever you need them.
InDesign is an awesome tool to create an ebook, as long as you know what you’re doing! With some practice, your ebook creation process will take you no time at all. Now you just need to sit down and write!
And don’t forget, in honor of my birthday today, I’m marking down my InDesign course, the InDesign Adventure Guide, to $197 until I relaunch and rebrand it in the next few weeks. The price will never be this low again, so don’t delay! Lock in the current cost, and you’ll get all of the updates once the course is relaunched. Sign up now!