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How to create a Book file in InDesign
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Posted on October 5th, 2011
Adobe InDesign

A Book file is a collection of documents that can share styles, swatches, master pages, and other items. You can sequentially number pages in booked documents, print selected documents in a book, or export them to PDF. One document can belong to multiple book files.

This tutorial was created in InDesign CS5 but will work just fine in CS3, CS4, CS5

  • To begin your book make a new document in InDesign with the page size, formatting  and Paragraph styles you want to use, plus page-numbering and any design elements on the Master pages. Begin writing. Create and add chapters separately so that they can be organized at a later date and edited one at a time.

At any point in your writing you can make a book file.



  • The Book panel appears. The book file is saved with the file name extension .indb.
  • When you create a book file, it opens in the Book panel. The Book panel is the working area of a book file, where you add, remove, or rearrange documents.

  • Choose Add Document in the Book panel menu, or click the plus button  at the bottom of the Book panel. You can drag and drop files onto the Book panel from an Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS) window. You can also drag a document from one book to another. Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) to copy the document.
  • One of the documents added to a book file is the style source. By default, the style source is the first document in the book, but you can select a new style source at any time. When you synchronize documents in a book, the specified styles and swatches from the style source replace those in other booked documents. To designate a document as the style source, click the box next to the document’s name in the panel.
  • If necessary, change the order of the documents in the panel by dragging them up or down to the appropriate locations in the list.
  • To open a document in a book file, double-click the document name in the Book panel. You can edit your text in the original InDesign document – on opening in the Book file it will prompt you to update links – or you can edit directly in the book file. The former means you have a duplicate working copy so as a backup for a long precious document it would be a good working discipline.
  • Continue adding pages as you need them -  e.g. Table of Contents, Index etc
  • At conclusion you can preflight, package, export to epub and pdf, and print. Make individual selections for these options or select the entire layers of the book to to view your output in entirety.

  • Note the ‘selected’ text below that denotes only the layers you have selected will be packaged, exported or printed



  • As opposed to all the  layers selected which will be package, export or print in entirety


  • The Book feature is very effective in creating a book with many chapters and you can easily maintain a consistent layout in every document.


If you have any questions please leave a comment and I'll happily respond.


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Daniel Walter Scott is a trainer for graphic design and web design courses in Auckland, New Zealand.
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