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File formats for print

From: Print Production Essentials: Packaging

Video: File formats for print

When you're finished working on your package in InDesign and you've checked everything and you know that all the content is healthy, then it's time to send it to the printer. If they ask for a native InDesign file, you want to make sure that you package all your placed graphics so that they have everything they need. Sometimes you might be requested to embed the graphics instead, and I'll show you how to do that. Often you're going to be asked to outline your text, if you aren't asked to outline your text, they're probably going to want you to include the fonts that you've used in the document.

File formats for print

When you're finished working on your package in InDesign and you've checked everything and you know that all the content is healthy, then it's time to send it to the printer. If they ask for a native InDesign file, you want to make sure that you package all your placed graphics so that they have everything they need. Sometimes you might be requested to embed the graphics instead, and I'll show you how to do that. Often you're going to be asked to outline your text, if you aren't asked to outline your text, they're probably going to want you to include the fonts that you've used in the document.

So here in my InDesign file, take a look at my Links panel, and you can see that I have all my graphics linked. How can I tell? Well there's a little icon you will see if you have embedded your graphics. So if you're asked to embed, that's going to make your file sort of self-contained. All of the graphics will be in it and you won't have to package them. One nice thing about the way InDesign handles that, makes it easy in case you need to un-embed your graphics. So here's how you embed. You can just select all your links, go to the Links Panel menu and choose Embed Link.

And this is how you can tell that they're embedded. You're going to see that little icon. But, if you aren't asked to embed, then, of course you have to make sure that the printer's going to have the necessary graphics and so you'll package. I'm going to undo that, because InDesign gives me multiple undoes. And now, let's take a look at doing a package. So, File > Package and it's going to gather up any fonts, if I have not turned my text to outlines. And it's going to gather up all the links and images. And just sort of provisional preflight. If it sees anything that's wrong, it will squawk, at this point.

But it behooves you to run a good preflight first. So when I choose package. It would be nice if you put some contact information and if you work for a company, put company information here. Phone and email and so forth. Any special instructions, it's a good idea to put them here. But, again, when you submit it's also a realy good idea to print out a comp of your package. Anything that you think needs a heads up, big red marker. You can't beat it. Click Continue and it's going to ask where you want to save it.

Notice that is says copy fonts except CJK. Now this is the English-American version of InDesign. What it means with this, is it won't collect Chinese, Japanese or Korean font. It will copy any linked graphics, and it'll update those graphic links in the package, meaning that the links will be internal to that package. It won't be looking on a server, or on my hard drive for any linked graphics. When I click package, something that we tend to sort of gloss over, but the truth is that if you look at an end user license agreement for a font, you as a designer buy the font when it gets to the printer they're really supposed to have bought the same font, but they are allowed to print your file if you send them the font.

So click okay, package the file and there you go. If you're sending to a printer who's using an older version of InDesign than the version that you're using, you still want to do your package first, but you'll export your file in something called InDesign markup language. The shortcut for that is IDML. If you do that coming out of CC or CS6, anyone who is using CS4 or later will be able to open it. So here's how you do that. You just chose File and you can use Save As or Export.

They're sort of two doors to the same destination. But, I'm going to go through Export and I'm going to put this in my InDesign folder. And I'm going to chose InDesign Markup IDML as my format and this is pretty simple package so that didn't take very long but we can see that in the folder when we take a look. So you can see there's my IDML file. There's my InDesign packaged file that ensures that I have all my links and any necessary fonts and there's the IDML file.

So, regardless of which version they're using, CS4 or later, they're going to be able to open my file and work with it. Frequently a printer is going to ask you to send a PDF, Portable Document Format. Be sure to ask them for any PDF presets they might have, because they may have a recipe that they can send you, and that's great. Then you know you're making a PDF in exactly the way that they require it. If they don't send you a preset, they ought to at least send you specifications. If they don't, if they just say, well, send us a PDF then you don't really have a whole lot of guidance.

In that case, push for it but if you don't get any specifications, here's what to do. Create PDF/X-1a. So in InDesign, it's File, you can choose PDF presets and go right to X1A. And then here, in my PDF folder, I'm going to save this and since I made that selection, it's already populated with all the choices that are appropriate for X1A. By and large you're going to leave this at the default, since when you're building a package you tend to build it inside a larger page, your bleeds should be contained within the document.

Now, if your bleed is falling outside your trim area, then you would include bleed in your output, but my case, I've made a document that's much bigger than the package, so I don't have to worry about that. But what I do want to think about is how it's going to handle any placed images. This particular document doesn't have any placed images, but for you if you have some, this is a consideration, by default the X1A setting is going to downsample and it's going to compress. Now it doesn't compress aggressively and that's why it says images quality maximum.

But if you don't want any compression or any downsampling to take place, you can just do this, choose Do Not DownSample, and then turn off your compression. And by the way, notice that it handles color images, grayscale images, and any monochrome or bitmap images separately. So if you have those components and you don't want them downsampled or compressed, be sure to make that change in all of these sections. Again, the ideal is that the printer tells you how they want the PDF made, you choose X1A when they haven't given you any information.

So don't be alarmed that choosing X1A gives you this compatibility for Acrobat 4, even though you know you're using a much newer version. Why wouldn't you use a newer version? The idea behind this is that you're creating a PDF that could be handled correctly even by much older imaging processes. So, this way you know it's pretty safe to send to anybody. They ought to be able to image and print this correctly. So, once you're done, export it, gather up your files and send them to the printer.

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Print Production Essentials: Packaging

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Claudia McCue
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