We’ve recently been converting some ELT course book titles from the InDesign press ready print files to ebook format for some of our ELT clients and we thought it would be useful to share some of our top tips.

Our most important tip is to set the original files up correctly in the first place, so both the print ready files and the ebook files can all originate from the same structure, causing less headaches further down the conversion line and saving time and money in the production workflow.

Style sheets

Making use of InDesign’s tricks to consistently apply character and paragraph styles is a great way to save time in production but also ensure every style has been applied throughout. We use GREP to efficiently do this. If you’ve never used GREP read our top tips on why you should here. This applies to print and digital versions.

The Table of Contents is what eReaders look for when they open up the file format and it enables the reader to jump from page to page, and chapter to chapter. With large ELT courses chapters and sub-chapters are used heavily so this is a useful feature to use as part of the setting up process in combination with the applied style sheets. Each of these chapters and sub-chapters are bookmarked and hyperlinks are created on the contents page within the InDesign file. Doing this in InDesign before exporting means that the bookmarks and links are maintained even if the content needs editing at a later date.

Having a strict font licensing policy across all ELT departments will ensure a huge amount of time is saved at the conversion process as well as ensuring you have design and visual consistency between printed versions and digital editions. Ensuring you use the right licensed, digitally enabled, fonts at the beginning of the design process will help keep costs down and enable you to re-use files and chunks of content consistently time and time again.

Most ELT course books have a lot of highly visual images, artwork and realia, so ensuring all of the assets are named correctly, linked and saved to the right place is really important. This will not only help your sanity but will also ensure the file works properly once it’s converted and nothing is missing.

If you’re an ELT Publisher starting a new course and you know you’ll want to have an ebook version of any of the printed files it would be sensible to work this into the publishing plan from the beginning. As it is far more efficient to set up the original files ready for conversion and be able to work from one document rather than having to convert files at a later date.

Having said all of this, we’d still question the relevance of converting the same format from print to ebook in the first place. Adding in additional elements and tools, and having separate components, to help teachers and learners is now surely on everyone’s agenda. However, even if you know your printed course book isn’t going to be completely replicated in a digital version having a technically sound, consistent approach to setting up files, as explained above, will help with the production of digital components as well as help to save huge amounts of time and ultimately money.