Tag Archives: InDesign

Good gracious – it’s GREP!

Grep definition
The other day I was asked if I could convert some short ebooks into PDFs using an existing print template set up in InDesign. Only thing was that the contents of the ebooks were edited sections of existing print books, and had never existed as Word files or InDesign files. So how to do it reasonably efficiently? To be absolutely sure that you have the right version of the text ideally you should work with the ebook files.

That’s fine – crack them open and you have HTML. That’s text, right? Well – yes, and in an ideal world InDesign could import HTML and use the HTML code to style your text. But this isn’t an ideal world – InDesign can’t import HTML yet. (I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, right, Adobe?)

But – back to the drawing board for the time being. So I copy and paste the text from my browser… That works, but – hey, hang on! – where’s my formatting? All those italics – gone. Oh lordy, am I going to have to go back over everything and replace the italics? Bolds? Headings!?

Back to the drawing board again. What if I copy-and-paste the HTML into InDesign? Yes but you still haven’t got any formatting? Ah, but you have got the codes for formatting.

HTML code

You can see here, each paragraph is surrounded by a little bit of code and italics, bolds and headings, etc are surrounded by codes too. These codes work with the css files to style the text in your ebook or browser, and the great thing about this is that they won’t ever be wrong or typed incorrectly (so long as the original text is styled correctly of course). So you can do some find/change work using the code tags as a guide and you’ll soon have styled text without having to go through comparing both versions. Hurrah!

The find/change panel in InDesign is really powerful and I spend a lot of time using it when I’m typesetting. But to sort out this little problem more efficiently, it’s really useful to know a bit of grep. I knew some grep and sometimes use InDesign’s built-in grep queries, but I went back to the trusty Lynda video-training site and brushed up on it. And, wowzers, it really is like magic. (I’m nothing to do with Lynda.com, but I cannot recommend them highly enough – their courses are superb.)

What you need to know here is pretty simple stuff, actually, and is only scratching the surface of the capabilities of grep (and don’t even get me started on the possibilities of grep styles). If you’re ever setting long documents, or have to change from one format to another, a little bit of grep is the way to go.

Here I’m clearing out the paragraph tags and styling the body text at the same time – one click (do check your code is working first though!) and the body text is styled and the paragraph tags are gone. You’ll see that the paragraph tags are in the search field and inside them is (.*). This pretty much means find anything inside this text. Then in the replace field the $1 means put in anything you’ve found but only what you’ve found – not the paragraph tags (actually anything inside those parentheses you see around .*). And at the bottom of the find/change panel I’ve asked it to change the style to ‘text’.

GREP

Clearing out paragraph tags

You can use the same method to style headings, opening paragraphs, etc, too. Just substitute your paragraph tags for whatever else you have (H1, div, etc).

Here I’m styling italics with a italic character style and getting rid of the tags at the same time. Again, you can do this with your bold, underline etc – just change the search criteria.
grep codes

You can also use ‘wild cards’ to clear out things like image tags that are slightly different throughout, so that you don’t have to search and delete manually through all the text.

Grep

Using wildcard codes to clear out unwanted text

You could also use grep to convert the image tags to placeholder boxes for the images if you needed too. Finally go through and clear out random div tags, etc. Then I’d do a final check for > and < which means you should pick up any remaining lurking code. Then you’re done. Ta dah! Styled text in just a few clicks.

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EXPORTING FIXED-FORMAT EPUBS FROM INDESIGN: An update

Adobe InDesign fixed format export

Now you see it

Adobe InDesign fixed format export

Now you don’t

Yesterday Adobe announced their latest round of updates to Creative Cloud apps. And they’ve fixed lots of the issues around their new fixed-format export feature that I wrote about here and added a whole lot of interactivity possibilities too.

The biggest issue I suppose is links. You can now have internal and external text hyperlinks. So you can add your website (or any website), index and cross-references. Whay-hay!

Adobe InDesign fixed format export

Cross references and multistage objects (That’s set up with a simple slideshow feature.).

But you can also add most of the interactive features that previously only applied to interactive PDF (and most of them wouldn’t work on iPad). I spent an hour quickly (and roughly!) animating page elements on my Sleeping Beauty sample book. Here some ‘blood’ fades in when you tap the page (draw shape, fill red and set to fade in on page click/tap). And in the pictures above the cat appears inside the cupboard (create closed-door cupboard by copying and flipping left side of cupboard, place on top of original image and set that to appear on page click/tap). When I exported the book everything worked as it should in iBooks (desktop and iPad).

Adobe InDesign fixed format export

And some ‘blood’ fading in on a page tap.

You can also add html animations too, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Another really useful feature is that there is now an ePub preview panel so that you can preview how things will look without having to export and load onto an iPad if you haven’t got a desktop ereader. This is brilliant, seems to work really well and is such a time-saver.

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The joy of text … or fun with fonts

Alice cover image

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland cover image from my version.

I love typefaces, typography and typesetting and generally playing about with how words look. I spent many years as a non-fiction editor, but I always liked to typeset the books I was working on when I could. When I was at Scholastic Children’s books I worked on highly intergrated illustrated non-fiction mainly, such as Horrible Science, Horrible Geography and Horrible Histories, and we had found it was easier if the editors did the layout, because they knew the text, and the designers did the initial spec, detailing and the covers, of course. It was my favourite part of the job, and as I got more senior and had to give some of it up it was something I really missed. Since I’ve been freelance my work so far has been mainly on the typesetting and digital conversion side of things – so hurrah!

A few weeks back I made a couple of sample ebooks using InDesign CC2014 to test out its fabby new fixed-format export, and while I was researching that, I came across a brilliant InDesign script called Wordalizer (thanks, InDesign Secrets!). It makes word clouds like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Or like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Now I love a word cloud! Wordalizer can use words on the clipboard, scan the open InDesign file, or you can type words in manually. I made the clouds in these images by copying a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the clipboard. You can tweak the list it generates, delete and add words – it will also accept short phrases and give an indication of the weighting of each word. Then you can assign up to four fonts, choose the colour scheme, word orientation, cloud shape, etc. Once the cloud is generated it is completely customisable. Each word is a separate outline object and can be coloured, stroked, deleted, resized, moved, rotated to taste. Or you can go back into the script and tweak to your heart’s content there – you can even recolour without changing the cloud itself. You can also export as an eps, jpg or png and take it into Illustrator or Photoshop if you want. Hours of fun for a type fan like me!

I’ve wanted to make a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for a while, but I’m certainly not an illustrator, so I’ve used the Alice word clouds I generated as illustrations for my version. I did very little to these clouds once they were generated as I wanted to see what Wordalizer was capable of. More tweaking to be done to the book, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going. I’ve converted it to fixed-format ePub, and it’s set up in a Blurb template so I might get it printed too.

spread from Alice in Wonderland

spread from Alice in Wonderland

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Exporting fixed-format ePubs from InDesign

I WANT CANDY

I WANT CANDY!! – Fixed-format EPub displayed on Readium

A couple of months ago Adobe launched InDesign CC 2014. Among its new features is the ability to export your documents as fixed-format ePub 3. This is really rather exciting. Prior to this update you either had to go to a specialist conversion company or pretty much hand code files. Either way it was a palaver and often an expensive palaver at that. I’ve been using a very good conversion script (ePub Crawler) for the past year (and will continue to use it for some projects), but this is something else! I’ve just got around to having a proper look at this new capability and I’m impressed. InDesign CC 2014 can now export valid ePub 3 fixed-format ebooks as quickly and easily as exporting a PDF. Barring a few minor issues and things-to-watch-out-for, the resulting file will be identical to the InDesign book file.

What is a fixed-format ebook?
Fixed-format ebooks reproduce what is on the printed page (like a PDF). The text is live and can be selected, searched, defined and read aloud (depending on ePub-reader software capabilities). The new InDesign export places all of the page elements exactly as they are in InDesign and each word is dealt with individually, so your line endings and spacing remain intact. (It also means that if you crack open the ePub files and look at the HTML it looks like the stuff of nightmares, but that’s another story.)

Currently Apple iBooks is the only platform that really has full support for all ePub 3 has to offer, however other retailers are following (I’ve had some success with opening the resulting files in Kobo apps, for example. They will also open in Google Chrome with the free Readium extension installed and I’m pretty sure they’d be fine on Google Play.) But I have spoken to some people who are still very dismissive about fixed-format ePub – there’s just not enough support on other platforms, why would you want to, isn’t it just easier to convert to PDF? Well, yes – but Apple don’t sell PDFs (nor do any other major ebook retailers to my knowledge) so if you want to sell a PDF book you’ll have limited places to sell it. And – did I mention? – if your book is set up correctly export is no more time-consuming than exporting to PDF. So you can still export to PDF if you want to and export a version you can at least sell on Apple iBooks for very little additional outlay – probably less than the cost of getting a proof copy printed.

Fixed-format conversion is most suitable for:
✔ Children’s picture books
✔ Photo books
✔ Highly designed and illustrated non fiction and reference
✔ ‘Coffee table’ books
✔ Cookery books (and other instructional books)
✔ Any book where it is important to keep the design and layout intact
✔ Prospectuses or catalogues

So who would benefit from this?
✔ Publishers and self-publishers wanting to release backlist titles quickly and cost effectively
✔ Publishers and self-publishers creating new titles in the above fields. If new titles are designed with an eye to exporting to ePub on completion, the convertion is very quick and pain free.
✔ Photographers and artists (Photo books, portfolios and ePub albums for wedding clients, for example)
✔ Bands and other performers (tour books, blogs, programmes, etc)
✔ Organisations and retailers who would benefit from conversion of prospectuses and catalogues, internal and external training materials, etc, to ePub to allow them to be read on a wider range of apps and devices

I’ve incorporated fixed-format ePub into the range of typesetting, layout, editorial and conversion services I offer. I don’t give flat-fee prices at the moment because every project is different.
I can:
✔ Convert your final InDesign files to fixed-format ePub more cheaply and quickly than I used to be able to offer. (If your files are suitable this takes the same time as saving to PDF.)
✔ Place video and audio prior to conversion
✔ Assess your files’ suitability and make font substitutions and layout tweaks prior to conversion
✔ Re-set and layout (from old backlist, etc)
✔ Set up new titles from scratch

Sample Books
I’ve set up a couple of 30-ish-page sample books. One is the full text of The Sleeping Beauty Picture Book, illustrated by Walter Crane and the other is a section of The Candy Maker’s Guide, a recipe book first published in 1896 by a manufacturer of confectionary and baking equipment. (Both public domain texts – the photos are mine.)

Here are some screen grabs from Sleeping Beauty:

Note the overlapping text on the headings. The text is still live.

InDesign layout sample – Sleeping Beauty

InDesign layout sample – Sleeping Beauty

Ibooks screen grab showing thumbnails

IBooks screen grab showing thumbnails

This one has a path around the image of the girl on the left. Every word is in exactly the same position as in the InDesign file. (You might have noticed the overflowing text box below. InDesign will not warn you of text overflow on export – it just assumes it’s what you want.)

Indesign layout sample – Sleeping Beauty

InDesign layout sample – Sleeping Beauty

IPad screen grab showing thumbnails

IPad screen grab showing thumbnails

Now here are some screen grabs from the sweets book:

Again we’ve got a clipping path around the sweet jar and I put a feather on it (the path is rough, I know – but the point is that it is exactly as it was.)

Indesign layout sample – sweets

InDesign layout sample – sweets

IBooks screen grab

IBooks screen grab

Here’s a spread showing a mixed single- and two-column layout and images with transparency.

Sweets spread example

Sweets spread example

You can set the ePub up so that it displays a table of contents as thumbnails like this, or if you set up a table-of-contents style, you can have it display a multi-level toc in words.

Thumbnail Table of Contents

Thumbnail Table of Contents

This shows looking up ‘live’ words in the built-in dictionary.

IBooks showing definition of word

IBooks showing definition of word

So what can’t you have?
✘ Hyperlinks in text or internal links
✘ Live text that is horizontally or vertically scaled, or kerned
✘ Live text with strokes, gradient fills, drop shadows etc.
✘ Live text on a path (text will flatten on conversion)
✘ Gradients (this can be overcome by flattening to jpg first)
✘ This conversion process is not suitable for adding audio with read-along text highlighting
✘ Postscript fonts

(Adobe are still working on enhancing the export, so some of these issues will be overcome soon.)

Backlist conversion and fonts
The major issue when converting InDesign documents is fonts. Many publishers are still using (or used to use) Postscript files. These won’t work in ebooks, so if your books contain Postscript fonts they will have to be replaced with Truetype or Opentype fonts. Many common fonts have Truetype or Opentype versions, but more obscure fonts might have to be replaced with similar fonts. It’s also important to make sure your fonts are licensed for ebook use. They often aren’t. Ideally new titles should be designed using correctly licensed Truetype or Opentype fonts.

Multimedia
You can also add video and audio if you so desire – obviously if you are converting a print book you might have to make some design tweaks to make room for the media. Video and audio can be placed directly to the InDesign file. You don’t have any choice over the video/audio controls’ appearance (but I believe you can edit the css if it really bothers you.) There is also support to link to Youtube etc if you don’t want to embed your media.

Here are a couple of screen grabs from a small test file I made.

How video looks on the page. You can't customise the controls.

How video looks on the page. You can’t customise the controls.

The audio controls can't be customised.

The audio controls can’t be customised.

A note about tracking

I was asked about tracking text. The screen grabs below show text tracked backwards and forwards.

InDesign showing text without tracking

InDesign showing text without tracking

InDesign showing tracked text

InDesign showing tracked text in heading and bottom line.

EPub showing tracked text

EPub showing tracked text

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Copy-editing, etc, on an iPad

One of the pleasures of being freelance is that I can use any technology I like get get my books from ‘manuscript’ to ‘files to the printer’. Just recently I realised that I had been spending far too much time than was good for me or my back sitting in front of my desktop computer or at a desk reading and editing proofs.

So I’ve switched to doing most of my editing on the iPad using PDFs. I still print books out once, towards the end of the process, if they’re destined for print, but otherwise it’s an iPad and desktop relay all the way.

However I was getting a bit frustrated with trying to accurately write or mark with my right hand – when I’m left-handed. Do most left-handed people use touch screens and computer mice with their right hand? Dunno – but I do. So I bought myself this handy stylus/pen thingy which I can use with my left hand. It looks a bit like a crayon, yes. But it’s made of aluminium, so it handles like a pen. And being left-handed I can still do all the other pinchy zoomy swipey things I’m used to doing with my right hand. Result!

Hurrah! Now all I need is a way to actually edit InDesign files on the iPad…

iPad stylus

Stylus – yes it looks a bit like a crayon.

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What is an ePub file? Why won’t it validate when I make one in inDesign?

Yesterday an email dropped into my inbox and I found myself doing some impromptu ePub troubleshooting on an ePub that wouldn’t validate. The ePub had been exported through inDesign – I don’t know which version at the moment.

Now – inDesign is a great conversion tool – but unless you get everything set up right it’s unlikely that your ePub will validate without cracking it open and making some tweaks. In fact – it’s unlikely that it will validate straight from InDesign whatever you do. It’s just a question of how much you do in inDesign.

So I exported one of my test files with some deliberate errors to see what I landed up with. Oh dear.

Validation errors

Validation errors

A while back I wrote a post on what an e-book ‘file’ is. I mentioned that an ePub file isn’t a single file at all, but a zipped-up collection of files. Screen shot below.

unzipped ePub

unzipped ePub

Just to recap: the xhtml files are the content of the book. It’s a good idea to set them up as one file per chapter.

split screen

split screen

This is a split-screen view in Dreamweaver. The xhtml on left and how it should look on the right.

The toc.ncx file contains the table of contents.

Table of contents

Table of contents

The css file deals with how the text is styled. This can be a world of pain, but doesn’t tend to stop your file validating.

The content.opf file is the one you really want to check out if your file won’t validate.

Content.opf file

Content.opf file

Notice that there are a whole load of metadata fields that begin with <dc:. You are likely to have validation problems if your title, date, language and identifier fields aren’t filled in. The title is the main one. E-readers often run the title across the top or bottom of the screen and it’s pulled in from here. InDesign should pull these in during the export – but only if it’s set up to. The title field (and some others) is dragged in from ‘File Info’ in inDesign – it’s NOT the file name. I know from working in print for ages that we rarely fill in the file info box for print, or if we’ve used files as templates they might contain old info. So that’s one to get into the habit of filling in.

The next section is the manifest. This is a packing list of everything that’s in the ePub folder. If anything is listed here it must be in the folder. Everything in the folder must be listed here. File names and file types must match, or your file may not validate.

The Spine lists the order that the files will appear. Again, if there are any mismatches your file might not validate.

Finally there is an optional section called the Guide. This isn’t created by inDesign at the moment. You will have to go in and create it manually. It seems to be more of an issue if you want to convert to Kindle format. It shows the Kindle software where the cover, table of contents and the start of the text is located. It won’t stop your ePub validating, but if you convert to Kindle format it may throw up an error if it’s not there.

content.opf file. Spine and guide

content.opf file. Spine and guide

And finally don’t have spaces in file names – EVER. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of just using letters and numbers for any files you create. You’ll notice that the majority of warnings in the first image above are down to my inDesign file name containing spaces.

And remember – validation is only the beginning – you can have a file that validates perfectly, but it can still be riddled with formatting errors that will cause it to give poor user experience.

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iBooks Author experiments

Last week was a week for conversations with various individuals and companies about fixed-format epub, KF8, Adobe DPS, book apps and their various merits, capabilities, pitfalls etc. During those conversations I was reminded of iBooks Author. I downloaded it ages ago, but had only given it a cursory glance.

So over the weekend I took it for a test drive. (Please note: I’m using my own photographs and made-up or placeholder text. The ‘book’ is a test of the program’s abilities.)

On the plus side iBooks Author is free to download.
But on the minus side it only works on a Mac running Lion and above. Which leaves a lot of potential users out in the cold.

Another minus (for some people) is that if you want to sell any books you create, you must do it on the iBooks Store. But you can easily test them on your iPad, give them freely away, er, free, and you can make PDFs (although they won’t have any interactivity and I haven’t tested the quality).

Anyway:

When you open iBooks Author you’re presented with a number of templates to choose from. They range from photo book layouts to text-heavy ‘classic’ layouts, recipes etc. You seem to have to choose a layout to start with, but they are all completely customisable. The ‘basic’ layout is probably the one to go for if you want to go it alone.

This is a screen shot of the iBooks Author with my test book in progress. Note it implies that you have to import images through iPhoto. You don’t. You can drag and drop from desktop or Bridge. There’s a pull-out drawer of styles on the right and page thumbnails on the left.

Screenshot of iBooks Author

Screenshot of iBooks Author

You test your book by hooking computer to iPad with the iBooks app open and clicking Preview. The book is downloaded to iBooks and is completely functional – except it has ‘Proof’ written across the corner of the cover. (The book next to it is Animals from Miles Kelly.)

iBooks library screen

iBooks library screen

This is a chapter opener, with the thumbnail table of contents along the bottom. The table of contents is automatically generated and updated.

Chapter opener and table of contents thumbnails along the bottom.

Chapter opener and table of contents thumbnails along the bottom

If you work with InDesign, Quark or even Pages, Word, etc it’s all very familiar territory. It’s also quite similar in a lot of ways to Blurb’s BookSmart program.

The interesting stuff is the interactivity that is possible through widgets. The program comes with a selection of these which include galleries, scrolling boxes, interactive questions, media (video and audio), inserting Keynote presentations, pop-up labels, 3-d images and HTML functionality.

Gallery. Tap the thumbnails to view

Gallery. Tap the thumbnails to view

Embedded video has to be in .m4v format.

Embedded video has to be in .m4v format

Zoom-ins

Zoom-ins

Zoom-in zoomed in.

Zoom-in zoomed in

You can also make HTML widgets in programs like Hype, and I found a site called Bookry which allows you to create all sorts of widgets. I made a wordsearch to go in this book.

Wordsearch widget from Bookry.

Wordsearch widget from Bookry

Word search poster image

Wordsearch poster image

These are multiple choice question widgets. You can have standard text or picture questions with up to 6 options or drag label or image to target questions. It will show you the correct answer and total your answers at the end of the test.

Questions widget. Drag the answer to the correct spot

Questions widget. Drag the answer to the correct spot

Questions widget. Drag the image thumbnail to the correct spot.

Questions widget. Drag the image thumbnail to the correct spot

I’m still playing with this, but I really like it and think it could have interesting possibilities if you’re happy to be limited to Apple platforms.

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InDesign epub conversion. When is black not black pt 2

Last week I posted about an issue I’d been having with the css generated by InDesign cs6. When I tested files on the Kindle for iPad and then Kindle Fire, I found that my black text wouldn’t revert out in the night theme. (It’s fine in iBooks and Kobo)

After some investigation I discovered that InDesign seemed to have changed how it expressed black in the css.

css generated from InDesign cs5.5 and cs6

This is the css generated from the same document – the one on the left in cs5.5 on the right cs6. Notice the color value. I hadn’t changed anything in InDesign except open the file in cs6.

Colour swatch options when creating stylesheets

This is the colour menu in the paragraph styles dialogue. You have a choice of black and registration to create black. Black is the default (at least it is on my set up).

Css generated using ‘black’ and ‘registration’

And this is what I got when I set up one style using ‘registration’ black and one using ‘black’.

Interesting…

Now I know how to fix it, it’s not a problem, but it had me scratching my head for a bit.

 

Edit:

Below is a screenshot of the night theme on the kindle mac desktop app and the accompanying css. The text styled as ‘body’ is not showing up and has a color value of #1a1818 which is what InDesign has generated when I used the epub export dialogue. The other text has had the css edited in Dreamweaver to colour:inherit and no color value.

kindle for mac black screen and css

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Experiments with Kindle Fire HD

On Friday my Kindle Fire HD was unceremoniously shoved through my letter box.

The box

Its attractive packaging and seemed to cushion the device’s fall onto the tiled floor in my porch.

You open the box by pulling the perforated cardboard tab.

Kindle Fire HD packaging open

The Kindle Fire HD comes with an USB cord and an instruction leaflet. It switches on on the short side. The button is recessed and not easy to see, so you won’t keep turning it on by mistake.

It’s already pre-registered to your Amazon account.

Kindle Fire HD home screen

Notice it says Jill’s 2nd Kindle at the top of the screen. Items you’ve looked at appear in the carousel. I gather this is a modified Android OS – it’s certainly similar to my Sony S tablet. There’s a free app of the day at the moment. Jamie Oliver today.

Very gratifyingly, the Adobe DPS folio I experimented with in the summer loaded on to this straight away once I loaded the Adobe content viewer app.

Adobe DPS folio

The screen is lovely. These photos don’t do it justice at all. New users get, I think, 5 gig of cloud storage (and a months free Amazon Prime, incidently). This is the gallery screen for the cloud storage. You can download to the device to view offline or you can sideload photos from your desktop.

Kindle Fire HD Photos screen

Books look good. There is now a night and sepia theme (like iBooks) and a text-to-speech facility. It’s a female, American voice, though, and I haven’t found a way to change it.

Kindle Fire HD text to speech facility

 

Just need to get it a cover now, so I can chuck it in my bag of gadgets.

 

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When is black not black? Kindle for iPad app

I recently upgraded to IOS 6 on my iPad and was able to download the latest version of the Kindle app. Having a muck about on it as you do, I noticed that you can now reverse out the text (night theme) like you’ve been able to do on iBooks for a while. So I pressed the ‘black’ button and the background went black and my text went … er … slightly less black. So I fiddled with it some more, I changed fonts and font sizes. I switched it on and off again. Then I opened to a self-published book I’d recently downloaded – and black with white text. Hmm. Checked a few more downloads. Black with white text. Back to another in the series I’m converting at the moment – black with slightly less black. Hmm. A test book I made a couple of months back – black with white text.

OK … check the css files. Ah! The test book css shows the text’s hex number is #000000, but the files I’m currently working on have hex #1a1818. This is the colour that InDesign CS6 generated from the ‘text black’ swatch (RGB 26,24,24) during ePub export. So once the css was changed to #000000 the file displayed properly.  It seems that the black theme setting on the Kindle app will only reverse the text out to white if it is pure black.

I don’t remember changing the css on my test file, but I could have. If I didn’t though, it seems that InDesign used to convert to #000000 in CS5.5. Incidentally night theme works just fine in iBooks3 without changing the css.

Oh it’s fun this conversion lark, isn’t it.

 

To continue this: I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to not specify text colour at all. I got a Kindle Fire this morning and the ‘night’ theme plays up even with the text set as #000000. It also plays up with embedded fonts, but that’s another story…

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