EPUB Fixed Layout with InDesign

The standard digital publishing format, EPUB, comes in two flavors:

  1. Reflowable, where the text flows to fit any screen size, large or small. Great for smartphones.

  2. Fixed Format, where the page layout is established by the author or publisher. It’s like PDF in that a page always looks the same. It can be made any size, but generally, its intended for tablets or computer screens the size of a printed book or larger.

In addition to reflowable, the just-released enhancement to InDesign CC now exports fixed layout EPUBs good enough, the feature is getting praised. I’ve tried it myself. Except for the title page, where I used manual kerning, it created a digital version of my book that looks precise like my print edition, down to the very word on which the page breaks.


  1. You get the power to make that book of your look really good, particularly if you include images.

  2. In most cases, the labor you put into making the print edition look good also makes the digital version look good.

  3. Great for books with lots of illustrations, i.e. scientific, technical and medical. Also great for illustrated children’s story books.

  4. Great for textbooks. Since the page breaks and the placement of illustrations are the same, when a teacher tells students to read pages 87 to 110, its the same in both print and digital. Ditto any reference he makes to an illustration at the top of page 94.


Pretty much only one. While a fixed format EPUB did display in iBooks on my iPhone, the type was so small it was unreadable. In most cases, you’ll need to produce two versions, one flowable for smartphones and one fixed format to tablets. Currently with Apple both need to uploaded separately.

Adobe discusses what’s new here:

blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/pu … -everyone/

And there are videos here:

helpx.adobe.com/indesign/how-to … ayout.html

lynda.com/InDesign-tutorials … =6&fatoc=1


More and more, InDesign is beginning to do what Adobe has promised, a one-document solution to publishing in print and digital. For $20/month you can get one-app access to InDesign CC. For $50 a month, you get access to virtually every product Adobe sells.


They’ve got a $10/month Photoshop package for photographers. I’m hoping they’ll eventually have a similar package for authors.

----Michael W. Perry