The InDesign Book feature provides a great way to combine smaller InDesign files into one larger Book file. It’s easy to use, and you’ll find our step-by-step guide to using the Book feature here. But, after using the InDesign Book feature for Book Design Made Simple and numerous other book projects, we’ve discovered that it’s not perfect—so forewarned is forearmed!
There are lots of things we love about the InDesign Book feature, but we’ve also discovered things along the way that didn’t work so well. Below we’ll tell you about the good, the bad, and the ugly—what worked and what didn’t—so that you can avoid the pitfalls we learned from.The InDesign book feature is a great tool, but we learned about some pitfalls from experience. Don't make the same mistakes we did! https://bit.ly/2C2BzMB Click To Tweet
What’s GOOD about the InDesign Book feature?
We used the InDesign Book feature for Book Design Made Simple, creating a separate InDesign document for each of the ten sections of book. That made it so easy for us to work on different sections of the book at the same time.
By dividing your book into separate documents (chapters, parts, and so on), it means the file sizes are smaller. File sizes of books with lots of images can become so large that they slow down everything you do in InDesign. So having smaller file sizes is smart.
The InDesign Book feature lets you synchronize styles across all the documents in your Book file. This includes paragraph, character, object, and table styles. How great is that?!
You can also generate an automatic table of contents compiled from all the documents in your Book file.
And you can set up automatic page numbering, which means that if you add, delete, or move pages within any of the documents in your Book file, the InDesign Book feature will update all the numbering for you.
Read our earlier blog post, Using the Book feature in InDesign, for a step-by-step guide to creating a Book file and performing all the functions listed above.
What’s BAD about the InDesign Book feature?
We were very excited when InDesign announced the addition of live endnotes in their CC2018 update. InDesign users had waited a long time for that feature! We updated page 249 of Book Design Made Simple, Second Edition accordingly. There were some bugs to work out of the new feature, as always, but we soon realized that the InDesign Book feature does not support live endnotes.
InDesign creates a text file at the end of a document, which contains all the endnotes. So if you plan to list your endnotes at the end of each document in your Book file, then you are fine.
However, if you are using the InDesign Book feature, you won’t be able to generate a list of live endnotes to place in the back matter of your book. It’s not an option. And, if you plan to copy and paste the endnotes from each document into one long list in the back matter, that won’t work either, as all the reference numbers in the text will disappear. Aaaack!
What’s UGLY about the InDesign Book feature?
We discovered this issue the hard way, and that’s why it qualifies as UGLY. Here it is:
Hyperlinks are lost if any document name is changed.
Let’s say you plan to export your Book file as a PDF or an EPUB and you’ve added lots of hyperlinks. In our case, we added hyperlinks to the tables of contents in each section of the book, to every instance of “see page xx,” and to every entry in the index. Each hyperlink connected to another place within the documents in our Book file, not to external URLs, and there were thousands of them.
When we created our Second Edition, we used the same documents and Book file that we used for the First Edition. First we added “2nd-ed” and a new date to the file name, then proceeded to make all our updates and additions for the Second Edition.
We didn’t discover until it was too late that changing the file name had disconnected all the hyperlinks. Right away we tried renaming the Book file with the old file name, but that didn’t relink the hyperlinks. There is no “Relink Hyperlinks” feature similar to the one for relinking images. So we had to relink over 4,000 hyperlinks from scratch.
Don’t make the same mistake we did!
It’s still a great feature!
The InDesign Book feature still has a lot going for it. As you can see, as long as you use it for things that it does beautifully, you’ll be very pleased. Just be aware ahead of time that there are a few things it really can’t do.
Book Design Made Simple. You can do it yourself.