New Footnote Capabiity for InDesign CC Epub Export

Footnotes have always been a bug-a-boo when it comes to exporting for ePub. Until now there have been two options:

  • Place the footnote after the paragraph
  • Place the footnote after the story flow (end notes)

As much as footnotes are beneficial in that they offer additional information, having the text at the end of the paragraph can interrupt the thought process. Additionally, it can be disorienting for a reader to jump to the back of a chapter to read the footnote.

But there is hope on the horizon. The latest release of Adobe InDesign CC allows the creation of intuitive pop-up footnotes for EPUBs.

Rather than interrupting the reading experience, footnotes can now enhance them. All the reader needs to do is tap on the footnote reference number, and the footnote pops up. Tap on the reference number again, and the footnote disappears.

Admittedly, the pop-up feature requires EPUB 3.0 and currently only works with later versions of iBooks on the iPad. Even so, designers need to start working with this feature as it will soon be recognized by most modern readers and browsers.

Creating Footnotes in InDesign

Choose Type > Insert Footnote, and the footnote hyperlink is created. All you need to do is enter the footnote text. The hyperlink is automatically linked to the footnote text. This way, the footnote is appropriate for a print version of the book, and already set up for the EPUB as well.

To make it even easier, you can automate footnote creation using a script that is assigned to a keyboard shortcut. What could be easier. The following has been written for AppleScript. For you ExtendScript scripters, this one should be fairly easy to write.

Script to add footnote

tell application "Adobe InDesign CC"
		set selList to selection
		if class of item 1 of selList is insertion point then
			set insertPt to item 1 of selList
		end if
	on error
		display alert "Requires insertion point selection"
	end try
	tell insertPt
		set ftRef to make footnote at end
	end tell
end tell

Styling Footnotes

Setting up a new document can involve a lot of jumping in and out of dialog boxes. Setting up styling for footnotes is just one more detail that can be pared down to almost nothing as part of your document creation automation. Start by setting up a standard default styling for the application. With no documents open, select Type > Document Footnote Options and establish your settings. Most of these settings should be fairly standard between documents. For those settings that may change, add an option to the script that sets up your document. 

For a script to get you started with your own custom script, watch for our Featured Script for February. This script presents the following custom dialog for user input.

As you can see, the dialog only allows the user two updates to the default footnote settings established for the application: Footnote numbering style and Do Not Allow Splitting. You may want to add more as your need requires.

Designating Footnotes in EPUB Export

To enable footnote pop-ups, you need to select EPUB version 3.0 in the General tab for the Export Options dialog. With this set, Inside a Pop-up is now a choice for Footnote Placement.

Coming Soon

The latest version of InDesign CC has made creating hyperlinks even easier than ever. Our next blog will explore this subject to some extent, so keep tuned.