The page-break-after:avoid rule just doesn't do its job! Can we fix it? Yes we can.
You all know it to be true. The one really annoying thing about the re-flowable ePub, is that you are often seeing those sub-titles all on their own at the bottom of the page. Just like a lonely orphan.
You can see an example in the first image here.
CSS has some rules for paged-media that try to prevent a page breaking before or after elements. Try as I might, I simply cannot get this do as expected.
So is there a way to sort this out while we wait for the ereader software to be updated to solve this? Or do we really have to use the fixed-layout option. No!No! Please not that.
We all expect page numbers in our printed publications, but what about eBooks?
Page numbers in a re-flowable eBook, are kind of odd things, because if we (as readers) increase the font size, the page numbers need to change. Page numbers in a re-flowable eBook need to be dynamic and their display is under the control of the eReader software.
iBooks on the iPad displays the page numbers in a re-flowable eBook in the centre at the bottom of the page with the total number included - like this: '9 of 14'. An indicator bar also provides a clue as to how far along in the book we have reached and this will be visible when we tap to view user-interface elements.
But, what happens in a fixed-layout eBook? Do we get an indication of the current page location? And can we control this within the markup or metadata for the ePub3 standard.
Edit: InDesign CC 2014 adds an ID value to the <body> tag, so if you have the latest version you will not need to use the method described in this article. When you export to ePUB, now, InDesign will add something like the following for the <body> tag:
Master Page items are ignored in ePub. TOC is on the pasteboard. Rule is used with an offset to create the background grey on the heading (ACT I). This needs to be put back with the background-color rule in the CSS of the ePub.
Is it possible to use InDesign creatively so that the same file will produce good quality print (PDF) output, and then, with no modifications export for ePub3?
Often times, book publishers will have their design studios working with InDesign to produce PDFs for print output. At the end of that workflow, comes the decision to create an eBook version.
It is sometimes the case that the book designer has used InDesign in such a way that creating the eBook by exporting from InDesign is impractical unless the file is re-worked, with changes to the styling rules; the removal of style overides, the choice of a different font, the anchoring of pictures etc etc.
Through work conducted with my students on a Masters programme in Digital Publishing (OICPS), I have been exploring this challenge, since their stepping through the sequence of assignments goes from PDF for print > to ePub3 re-flowable (and beyond to a fixed-layout version). Phew!
What are the pitfalls and can book designers change their habits so publishers will not need to outsource this work?
With the latest version of iBooks for Apple's iOS7 comes the total disappearance of the 'look of the book'. No more pseudo leather look cover or page edges; no more shaded spine, nor even the wooden bookcase for your library.
Apple's decision to do this falls in to line with the re-design of iOS - making for a much simpler (minimalist - you might say) look and feel. Much of the shine and shadows on any icons and objects has gone.
When it comes to the iBooks app, there are some issues that need addressing and I am disappointed that publishers have lost some element of control. Strange things happen when you compare re-flowable with fixed layout though!
Update: As of IOS 9 and iBooks 4, I don't recommend that you try to get non-linear content to work. You will be able to use the popup as described below here, but the display on iBooks for MAC is not good; you will find that the height of the popup will fill the screen. Even if you have an html document set (in the spine) to be 'non-linear' iBooks 4 will show the page when the reader reaches that point in the book.
Being able to link to content within an eBook package but not have that content navigable by any other means is a very useful feature supported in re-flowable eBooks within the iBooks app on Apple iOS devices.
In my book on eBook Typography for Flowable eBooks, I demonstrate this feature for tables, scrolling text and even PDFs. Unfortunately, it was not possible to use this feature in fixed-layout ePub eBooks destined for the iBooks app.
Or so I thought! I have recently discovered that the latest version of the iBooks app on iOS7 does support it even though, Apple's own documentation says that it does not!
Edit:See below - it does work on earlier versions of iBooks /iOS
InDesign has a feature for paragraph styles; Balance Ragged Lines.
This is a very useful style attribute, because text in headings can look very uncomfortable if left to break naturally.
Unfortunatately there is nothing currently in CSS that gives us the power to balance our lines of text. I was always dissapointed to find that my eBooks did not mirror the settings in InDesign, and I was always resigned to the fact that text would break in a heading and then leave, possibly just one word on the following line.
Edit: This article has been updated to take account of Indesign CC.
Note: The information provided here applies to eBooks created with the ePub3 standard. The font embedding techniques herein will only work properly if the ePub validates to the ePub3 standard.
Different devices offer different fonts, which may not be under the control of the book designer.
The iPad is the most sophisticated tablet that has a lot of built-in fonts, and these are available to the ebook designer.
When exporting to ePub from InDesign you can specify that the fonts are embedded.
InDesign CS6 CreativeCloud will encrypt the fonts using a method acceptable for the ePUB3 standard recognised by the International Digital Publishers Forum(IDPF). Unfortunately, the font files are also obvuscated and this is not acceptable to some eReaders.
Naturally enough, fonts embedded from the InDesign export to ePub3, will display correctly in Adobe Digital Editions. But what about getting these fonts to display on the Apple iOS devices, such as the iPad?
When it comes to the display of text in your re-flowable eBook, you have a some choices about hyphens.
Some general points
Hyphens can be useful to break up long words across the line break. This is particularly appropriate if you want to justify your text, since the renderer will need to space words out, and this can lead to uncomfortable spacing! But you need to adhere to the following rules:
Don't justify headings. This is because they may not span the line, and so you are going to get horrid space between the words.
Don't hyphenate the headings
Don't justify your verse
Only hyphenate if you are justifying the text and the line width (measure) is relatively short.