EPUB and eBooks: Quark or InDesign?

EPUB and eBooks: Quark or InDesign?

I prefer using InDesign for designing and laying out books even though I have been using Quark XPress for over twenty years. I recently upgraded to Quark 9, the first version with the ability to export to EPUB.

When preparing a book for both print and eBook editions, there is a fair amount of work to do to get the Quark files in shape for export to EPUB.

Fonts must have bold and italic attributes set (or reset), rather than the actual bold and italic fonts as required by most book printers. If you don’t have the font attributes set, all of the text will come through as roman.

If you have ever attempted to export a regular text file from Quark, you will have run into the same issue. It’s not a big deal, but it will take some time to convert the fonts, especially if you have a separate Quark file for each chapter of the book.

When InDesign makes an EPUB file, all of the active text on the pages will appear in the EPUB–not always in the order you want or expect, but everything should be there. Elements that are on master pages will not show up in the EPUB unless they have been activated on the pages, such as when changes to the text of the headers and footers are done on the actual pages rather than on the master pages.

You can make a separate set of InDesign files and delete extraneous text from the InDesign files before making the EPUB file, but I usually find it easier to make the EPUB from the existing InDesign files and then make additions and deletions to the xhtml files in the EPUB using Adobe Dreamweaver (see my previous article on unstuffing EPUB files to open and edit the xhtml files– “Creating and Formatting EPUB Files with InDesign”).

My Quark EPUB files pass validation as is. I have to modify the dc:date line in the content.opf file of my InDesign EPUB files for them to pass validation (see my previous article on unstuffing EPUB files to open and edit the content.opf file—“Creating and Formatting EPUB Files with InDesign”).

Quark does not export any text until you designate the text (and other elements) that you want to appear in the EPUB. To add text (or images) to the EPUB, choose “Digital Publishing” in the Item menu, and add text as a “New Article” using “Add to Reflow View.” You can then arrange the articles in the order you want them to appear in the EPUB using the up and down arrows in the “Reflow Tagging” window, which is located in the Window menu.

I like a lot of the new features of Quark 9, but overall the process for creating EPUB seems to be easier and faster using InDesign.

6 Replies to “EPUB and eBooks: Quark or InDesign?”

  1. Thanks for helping me feel more at ease to learn ebook design.
    I read that Quark was cleaner, better…but OH the price!
    And I have a brand new ID-CS6.
    Know of a good tutorial for all things ebook including mobil and ipad?

    1. Glad you found the article helpful. I still use Quark just about every day, but I actually prefer working in InDesign. Don’t know of any good ebook books to recommend right now. Good luck!!

  2. Thank you for this article it was helpful.
    I work for a publishing company. We seem to have more web products these days. I’m in the paper print and pdf department. I’m hoping that with Epub I can continue to grow with this company. I have never worked with Indesign and I’m addicted to Quark used for about 20 years.

    1. Thank you–glad you found the article helpful. I appreciate your comment and apologize for taking so long to respond. I’ve been using Quark for about 20 years myself, but switched most of my books to InDesign along the way. I work on a lot of books that have new editions released every year, so many of the templates are still in Quark. I’ve gotten pretty good at making EPUB from InDesign, but have not spent much time exploring Quark’s EPUB ability. If/when you do begin using InDesign, you’ll be able to figure it out most of the things you need to do within a short time. Everything you do in Quark has an InDesign equivalent–you just have to find it.

      Best wishes! Andrea

    1. Hello Ray,

      My expertise is in converting books set-up for print into epub books. I could easily create epub with 6-column tables, but for my process they tables would have to be laid out in InDesign.

      Depending on the length of your project, that could be easily done, or more time-consuming.

      You can telephone me at 323-822-2830 and/or e-mail me at andreareider@gmail.com to discuss further details. Or just respond to this message.

      Thanks again for your interest,


      There are people and companies who specialize in creating epub that doesn’t have anything to do with the printed book or InDesign.

Thank you! Andrea

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