iBooks Author: How To Create A Picture Book Without Chapters

how to create a photo book in ibooks author

When Apple first released it's free authoring application, iBooks Author, it was largely designed for creating rich, multimedia, and interactive textbooks for the education market. 

But over the past year, we've seen the adoption of this powerful application by authors creating books outside of the textbook market.

This presents some challenges for content creators who wish to produce a different kind of book. Because the software was designed with textbooks in mind, templates and layouts can be a bit hard to work with if you want to create, for example, a picture book.

While the application is drag-and-drop simple to use, the layout hierarchy of Chapter >> Section >> Text can be a little challenging to work with. And you don’t have to spend much time on the support forums to find authors frustrated with the software’s assumptions about what a book looks like (psst...we have customized templates to help with that frustration).

How create a chapter-less photo book in iBooks Author

In this tutorial, you'l learn a few tips and tricks to help you create a book without chapters in iBooks Author.

Creating A Picture Book Without Chapters

Step-by-step (see images below):

  1. Instead of starting with a Chapter, start your book with a Section page
  2. Next add blank pages behind it.
  3. Add images to those pages (Note: the screen size for landscape images is 1024 x 748. iPad with Retina display that has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels).
  4. Go to the inspector an select the first tab "Document" and click "disable in portrait orientation"
  5. You'll notice we might have a slight problem with the Table of Contents. Here's how to fix it.
  6. Add a background image to the table of contents.
  7. In order to preview, select the preview button in the top right corner.
1. Start your book with a Section page.

1. Start your book with a Section page.

2. Add blank pages behind it.

2. Add blank pages behind it.

3. Add images to those pages (Note: the screen size for landscape images is 1024 x 748. iPad with Retina display that has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels).

3. Add images to those pages (Note: the screen size for landscape images is 1024 x 748. iPad with Retina display that has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels).

4. Go to the inspector an select the first tab "Document" and click "disable in portrait orientation"

4. Go to the inspector an select the first tab "Document" and click "disable in portrait orientation"

5. You'll notice we might have a slight problem with the Table of Contents. Here's how to fix it.

5. You'll notice we might have a slight problem with the Table of Contents. Here's how to fix it.

6. Add a background image to the table of contents

6. Add a background image to the table of contents

7. Go to the preview in the top right

7. Go to the preview in the top right

8. Fixed!

8. Fixed!

Now you've got a picture book without chapters and a customized table of contents for iBooks Author. 

If you're creating a picture book or any book containing images without a lot of text, designing the right layouts is critical for the ultimate viewing experience. Our templates set the gold standard when it comes to beautiful, engaging layouts. Check out our iBooks Author Template Library

The template used in the example above is the Modern Template.

iBooks Author - Full Screen Images Step By Step

How to create full screen images in iBooks Author. 

In this iBooks Author tutorial, I'm going to show you three different ways to create a full screen image within the iBooks Author application. 

One of the neat features of an interactive book for the iPad is the ability to take advantage of the beautiful retina display by showcasing full screen images or by making small images pop up fullscreen with a tap. Even better, is the ability to zoom in and out of a picture. 

There are three ways you can do this and I'm going to walk you through each to decide which is the best solution for you. Here they are:

  • Tap-to-view image full screen
  • Full screen background image from your photos
  • Full screen background image using a shape

Tap-To-View Image Full Screen

One of the most common questions we get asked is how to make a smaller image pop-up full screen when tapped. Our templates already have this integrated in, but here's how you can do it for additional images: 

  1. Select the image
  2. Open the Inspector
  3. Go to the Widget tab (very last one that looks like a brown folder)
  4. Select interaction toggle
  5. Check the "Maximize on tap or click" box
Inspector tab ibooks author tutorial
tap to view image full screen in ibooks author

Note: if this box is 'greyed' out and you can't select it, make sure you've selected the image first.

Full Screen Background Image From Your Photos

Let's say I wanted to create an image that was already a full screen background image.

  1. Here's what i would need to do:
  2. Find the photo you wish to insert
  3. Drag and drop it into your iBook
  4. Go to the Metrics tab in the inspector
  5. Resize proportion to 1024 width and 748 height, x = 0 and y =0

You'll notice that you can resize it using the white boxes on the actual image. Or you can resize the photo within the inspector under the Metrics tab. If you want to maintain proportions, keep the "contain proportions" tab checked. This will mean you need to have already resized it to match. 

ibooks author image tutorial
display image full screen

Full Screen Background Image Using A Shape

The final option allows you to use a shape to insert an image. This is beneficial for two reasons: you can choose interesting shapes (like a star or circle) to mask your image and you can also do interesting things like have the image tile or stretch to fill a shape.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Go to the shape tool and select a shape
  2. Go to the Metrics tab in the inspector 
  3. Resize proportion to 1024 width and 748 height, x = 0 and y =0
  4. Select the Graphic tab
  5. Go to fill and select image fill
  6. Select Scale to Fill (or other option if you want to play)
ibooks author full screen images
image display ibooks author themes

The template used in this example was the Retina Template. Go check all our iBooks Author Templates here.

iBooks Author Resources

ibooks author tutorial

iBooks Author Beginner and User Guides

You can download the free iBooks Author Application from Apple here.

The blog post How To Publish An eBook With iBooks Author Tutorial gives you a phenomenal overview of iBooks Author and the key features and options.

O'Reilly Media has produced an amazing 110 page free guide called Publishing with iBooks Author to help you get up and writing with iBooks Author.

iBooks Author Templates has a free resource guide that includes a template with golden mean grids to help novice designers.

Peter Papas is an educator who has a fabulous blog about iBooks Author and an equally great Scoop.it feed has a great iBooks Author Scoop.it feed here.

Arstechnica writes an article that reviews iBooks Author and the whole iBook publishing experience.

Apple explains that iBooks Author isn't just for education - and how you can take your business content from standard to stunning on this page.

This iBooks Author Pinterest Board has everything you need and is updated regularly.

iBooks Author How-To Tutorials and Videos

Emerson College Department of Journalism has produced over 20 short video tutorials to get you up and writing with iBooks Author quickly.

This hour long video explains How to Create and Distribute iBooks in Education.

Davide Barranca's blog post details how you can add a full screen image to your book. He wrote another one on compressing images so you don't exceed the maximum file size limits of iBooks Author.

iBooks Author Themes has a great 2 part video series on how to design, create, and customize your own template from scratch.

The Bookry has over 25 more advanced video tutorials to check out here.

iBooks Author Templates

3rd Party Widgets & Services

Using Tumult Hype, you can create beautiful custom HTML5 widgets for your book (no coding required).

Check out Class Widgets for both free and paid widgets.

iBooks Author 101: An Overview

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If you're reading this, chances are you've heard about the incredible new authoring application from Apple called iBooks Author. But you might be wondering: What is it? How hard is it to learn? What is the application really capable of doing? Can I see some examples? 

In this post, you'll learn everything you need to know to get started and working with iBooks Author. 

What is iBooks Author?

iBooks Author is an incredibly powerful free application from Apple Inc. that helps you create and publish your own interactive ebooks. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to add video, interactive diagrams, galleries, 3D objects, and more without any technical skills. With iBooks Author, anyone can build a digital book that's not just fun to read - it's fun to explore. 

Demo iBook Created with iBooks Author

All we can say is - wow!

With iBooks Author, now you can create a book just like that too. In the section below, we're going to go over all the amazing features available to you within the application.

iBooks Author Feature Overview

Intro Media and Video Widget

You probably noticed that a cool introduction video started to play immediately when the book was opened. This is a nice feature for anyone looking to have a fun and stunning introduction to their content.

If you want to have a video play in context somewhere in the content of your book, the video widget makes it easy for you to just drag and drop both self-hosted and third party content, like a YouTube or Vimeo video, anywhere on the page.

3D Objects

The 3D object widget makes it easy for readers to manipulate an object by touch. For example, instead of seeing a flat drawing of a three dimensional organic chemistry molecule, they can manipulate a 3D image of the molecule to see all the way around it. iBooks Author even gives you the option to adjust the background, allow readers to rotate the object freely, or constrain its movement to horizontal or vertical rotation.

Interactive Images 

Add some magic to you images by making them interactive. You can add callouts and pan-and-zoom features to enhance any picture and add even more to the experience.


A gallery widget allows you to group photos in one place instead of one per page. This allows readers to swipe through a collection of interactive photos and captions with their finger and even double tap to make full screen. They can navigate the gallery using photo thumbnails or step through images one at a time.

Scrolling Sidebar

With scrolling sidebars, you can insert large portions of text that the reader can scroll through without changing the page. This is great for getting a lot of information in one area while avoiding screen changes.

Insert Entire Keynote Presentations

Want to include a Keynote presentation inside of your book? No problem. The Keynote widget let’s you drag and drop an entire Keynote presentation anywhere inside your book.  Intuitive controls for slide navigation and optional self-playing presentations make this widget even better. Now your readers can browse through a Keynote presentation (even ones with custom animations) — all without leaving the book.


Adding audio is just as simple as video - but you can also make words or images be the source of the sound. So if you were creating a book about wine and wanted someone to hear how you pronounce a certain term, you could make it so that if the reader touches the word they'll hear an audio clip of someone pronouncing the word.


A pop-over widget allows you to create an object that when tapped a "pop-up window" appear with text, images, or shapes inside of it. This allows you to provide additional information or instructions to the reader, for example, how to use an object on the screen. 


If you happen to be creating a book involving equations, this widget will be a huge time-saver. iBooks Author 2.0 supports three new options for equations; MathType, Latex, or MathML. You can adjust the font and color of an equation just the same way you would regular text.

To Get Started with iBooks Author, you'll need:  

  1. A Macintosh desktop or laptop computer
  2. Your computer needs to be running OSX 10.7 or later.
  3. If you'd like to be able to view your book as you create it, you’ll need an iPad with iBooks 3.0 installed (free).  
  4. Download and install the free iBooks Author Application from the App Store here.