How to create eBook Fixed Layout with Adobe InDesign CC 2014

September 03, 2014

One of the most powerful tools to create eBooks is Adobe InDesign. Historically the ability to create eBooks with a fixed layout format was a challenge. Creating an eBook in this special format was complicated with previous versions of InDesign because it required special plug-ins and extra work outside of InDesign. Now with the new release of CC 2014, no more extra plug-ins or work!



Fixed Layout ePUB Format

Unlike standard EPUB, when you create an EPUB Fixed Layout, your pages come out looking just the way you have designed them. This format is suited for creating eBooks with complex designs and big books with lots of heavy images. Some of the more common uses for fixed-layout are:  children's picture books, cook books, restaurant and travel guides, company reports and books with learning material.


Working on Fixed Layout Files

The advantage of InDesign's fixed format EPUB is that there is very little you need to do from your regular workflow to prepare a document to print. Fixed layout EPUB gives you more interactive and dynamic layout for your documents.


Some things to keep in mind about creating FXL EPUB in InDesign:

  • Live text (text which is not rasterized) is searchable and selectable.
  • Scaling on text is not supported.
  • You are limited to using True Type or Open Type fonts.
  • You can include video, audio, and Edge animate content (files with .oam extension).
  • Cross-references and indexes don't export at all in FXL EPUB.


Exporting to EPUB Fixed Layout Format

Once your document is ready, you can choose Export from InDesign's File menu and select EPUB (Fixed Layout) for the Format. Once you clicked Save, you will get the panel for setting up the Fixed Layout Export Options. It is really not as different as exporting to Reflowable EPUB:

  • In this case you only have the option to use EPUB version 3.0.
  • It is better to work with 150 or 300 dpi for the images. People that choose this kind of eBook expect to see high quality images.
  • Be sure to fill in all of the information in the Metadata panel. Optionally, you can use the File Information panel in InDesign (File > File Info…) to add the metadata to your document. But in the ePUB panel, you have all you need for an EPUB file.

The EPUB3 fixed layout format also supports live text, audio, video, and other interactive elements.





This new update for exporting Fixed Layout EPUB files is really a major advance with InDesign 2014 and shows that Adobe understands where the eBook market is going. This feature makes the work of the designer easier and simplifies the process of translating this type of files.


Further information on document and ebook translation services

Globalization Partners International (GPI) offers comprehensive document translation, e-book translation and desktop publishing services ranging from initial glossary development and copy writing to desktop publishing in InDesign, EPub, Kindle and even Print-on-Demand formats.

For more information about our e-book translation and desktop publishing services, please feel free to download our Language Globalization Guides. You may also benefit from our resources and blogs:

Feel free to contact GPI for more information via e-mail at, by phone at (866) 272-5874(866) 272-5874 , or by requesting a free search engine optimization translation quote on your project.

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  • Dr David ReiterOn Sep 04, Dr David Reiter said:
    I trialled InDesign's export to Fixed Layout and was generally impressed with its ability to create a file; however it doesn't export the Table of Contents or retain any links in the text. Has anyone found a way around this? Apple and Kindle have accepted the file but Overdrive has rejected it due to the TOC problem.
  • Aad MetzOn Oct 03, Aad Metz said:
    As long as text will not be scaleable, ePub3 is not interesting
  • JoyOn Oct 14, Joy said:
    TOC does not work. However I found a work around to create TOC using Cross Referencing. Unlike in the article above, Cross referencing works just perfectly for me in FXL. The trick works like this- Say you have a line saying 'Chapter 1' at page 1 and want to jump to page 10 after clicking it. Put the same 'Chapter 1' text field at page 10. Cross reference these two text box. If you do not want the same 'Chapter 1' in page 10, put the text box outside the work area but MAKE SURE that the text box touches the work area. The link will function but your text will not be visible.

  • ShumiOn Nov 13, Shumi said:
    The ebook layout is always required by the business professionals to send them through email or web media. It is really easy process to create an ebook fixed layer in Illustrator.
  • Anne-Marie ConcepcionOn Nov 21, Anne-Marie Concepcion said:
    Until InDesign CC 2014.1, released in early October, InDesign couldn't retain any text hyperlinks in its fixed-layout epubs.

    Just update your copy of CC 2014 to the latest release and the links will work (as well as the TOC, index, etc.).

    There are lots of new features in the release for Fixed-Layout including:
    - Adding animations, buttons, and slide shows (multi-state objects) -- this is really exciting
    - Option to use Bookmarks panel for TOC
    - Better support for text formatting including Scale and Tracking

    I cover all of this on my video tutorial, "Creating Fixed-Layout EPUBs with InDesign CC" (click my URL to go there) ... some of the vids are free, others you need to be a subscriber. You can get a week's free access with my free pass:

    Hope this isn't too promotional!

  • Abu Fateh On Dec 22, Abu Fateh said:
    Thanks for sharing a creative design. Really it will help graphics design related person.
  • MarkOn Jan 28, Mark said:
    To say adding animations buttons and slideshows is exciting is a huge understatement Anne!

    I think the new support for fixed layout epubs is going to drastically change how design work is distributed in 2015...
  • ManuOn Jan 29, Manu said:
    I have InDesign file with audio and video interactivity, but when I export to ePub Fixed layout, none of the interactivities are working. Do I need to include anything on Javascript in export setting. Please let me know.