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9. Managing links intelligently

From: InDesign CS4: 10 Habits of Highly Effective Pros

Video: 9. Managing links intelligently

It's crucial to your understanding and mastery of InDesign to understand the concept of links. That at its heart, any layout program is a receptacle for content created elsewhere. You import text and graphics and PDFs and movies and so on and then you use a layout program to arrange them nicely. Now keeping all those links files up to date and managing their whereabouts is really important in being able to have the smooth running workflow. I have a document prepped for you to follow along. Go ahead and open it. It's in the Exercise 09 file. Open up Javaco_Mag. indd and you should get an alert saying that you have a link missing. I do that on purpose. So just click OK and the magazine opens. This is the one I have been using in other lessons as well.

9. Managing links intelligently

It's crucial to your understanding and mastery of InDesign to understand the concept of links. That at its heart, any layout program is a receptacle for content created elsewhere. You import text and graphics and PDFs and movies and so on and then you use a layout program to arrange them nicely. Now keeping all those links files up to date and managing their whereabouts is really important in being able to have the smooth running workflow. I have a document prepped for you to follow along. Go ahead and open it. It's in the Exercise 09 file. Open up Javaco_Mag. indd and you should get an alert saying that you have a link missing. I do that on purpose. So just click OK and the magazine opens. This is the one I have been using in other lessons as well.

Now there is lots of images placed here and you can see the links to them in the Links panel, which should be right here in your panel dock on the right or if you don't have Links appearing there, you could choose it from the Window menu. So I have encountered in my life as an InDesign trainer and consultant, a few people who really didn't understand the concept of links. They thought that when you bring in image into InDesign, then it's actually bringing the entire image in and it actually isn't. It's bringing in a representation of that image. A low-res preview that image.

InDesign always has to know where the high res original file is on your hard drive and when you send a job to print, when it gets to that point or it needs to print the statue, then it says okay where is the original file, oh it's in this other folder. And then it sends that data to the printer and then when that pictures done being sent then it goes back to the InDesign file and sends the text and so on. That's why when you package something for the printer you always have to include all the original images as well, so that things can get printed correctly. Now the Links panel is what tracks all of those links and where those original files are. If you hover over any of these files, you will see that path to where that original image is.

In InDesign CS4, they have changed some things around, as you can see there is some extra features and this is covered in my InDesign CS4 New Features title as well as lot of the other InDesign titles here. But one of the things I want to call your attention to is that if an image is placed more than once in the same document, then InDesign gathers them up into this neat little group here and you can twirl open the little triangle at the top and see where they are placed. The parent listing at the very top tells you how many times it's been placed. Now here is our missing image and if you click the page number, it will jump right to that page number and select the image that's missing and so if you are missing an image, you have to remember to relink it. And by the way you can relink any image. It doesn't have to be missing.

If I wanted to replace map_1.ai with a completely different file, with a picture of my dog for example, I could just select map_1.ai and choose Relink, all right. But in this case, we need to actually relink the file and I am wondering where it is thinking it is. It has no clue but actually I do know where it is. So I must say Relink and inside on the desktop in Exercise Files for Chapter 09, there is a folder called New Images and that is where you will find that missing image. Now if there were other missing images, notice that InDesign offers a Search for all other Missing Links in This Folder as well.

One way that you are going to become an expert with working with Links is knowing how to change its settings, its options, what it shows up here at the top. And you have probably already found out that if you double-click one of these links, the Link Info panel opens up at the bottom. That gives you more information about that link, like the Color Space and the resolution. If it's been scaled, what layer its on and so on. But I personally hate having to always open up that Link Info. I would like to have the information appear across the top. So we are going to just add a couple of these. If I go to the Link panel menu and go down to Panel Options, everything under Show Column, if I turn on the checkbox, means it will create a column up here on the top part of the main Links panel. Show In Link Info is that little extra panel that can open and close at the bottom.

So for example, you might want to include the Effective PPI, the current resolution, that is, the scale of an image, which is very handy to see at one glance the scaling applied to all of the images in the document, and then these guys down here, Folder 0 and Folder 1. This actually refers to the path of where the original image is. You know the entire path could be this image is stored in links, which is stored inside the ACME folder, which is stored inside production folder, which is stored inside Anne-Marie's files and so on. That's the entire path. Well the very first folder that something stored in is called Folder 0, all right, and then the folder that contains Folder 0 is called Folder 1.

So if you just want to see parts of a path to get an idea of where are your images are coming from, it's very useful to do. You could actually choose to see the entire path if you wanted to, but that will make for a very wide Links panel, so I am not going to do that. So I am just going to leave those turned on and you can see here that if in Folder 0 and Folder 1, I am just going to resize these by dragging that little divider bars here. Though most of my files come from a folder called Links, they have actually been pulled from two different projects. So the Links folder within Javaco mag, which is this project, but also the Links folder within Tuscan Kitchen, which is another project on this folder. So this is a great way to see where are your images are coming from and to keep them organized.

Now what I might do would be to sort by Folder 1, you can click in any of these column headers to sort, and then select the ones that are in Tuscan Kitchen. Just to organize them, I am going to copy them to the Javaco mag Links folder. So I go to the Links panel menu, go down to Utilities > Copy Links To, find the Javaco mag Links folder and say Choose that one. So now everything is all there and let's do the same thing for new images, the one that we just updated.

Let's copy that also. Over to the Javaco mag Links folder, it's still selected. There we go. Now one other thing I want to mention to you about Links is to consider embedding a link. I said that I have encountered people in my life as an InDesign trainer that think that when you bring in an image, it is saved with the InDesign file and actually you can do that. It's just not turned on by default. For example, I could select this file here. Let's see where that is. It's this interesting little graphic at the bottom of the page and then from the Links panel menu choose Embed Link and that makes a little picture here in the Status column saying that it's Embedded.

Now this file is entirely saved within the InDesign file. It is still linked to where the original image is, but if I updated that original image in Photoshop or in Illustrator, I would not get an out-of-date icon here because it is no longer a live link to that one. It's embedded. And in fact, I could completely delete that original image and if I sent this file to print, it would print at full res. Because the full res image has been saved inside the InDesign file. I could embed every single one of these images in the InDesign file if I wanted to.

Now the InDesign file then would get huge, right, because if you embed 300 MB image inside an InDesign file, it's going to increase its size by 300 MB and so on. But this is essentially what happens when you export to PDF. When you choose Export to PDF from the File menu and you say let's make a High Quality Print, it is actually embedding all the graphics and it's asking you what resolution would you like me to embed the graphics at? So the only difference between exporting to PDF and embedding the graphics in an InDesign file is that you don't get a chance to say what resolution you want. It's going to embed at whatever full resolution there currently is.

If you ever then need to edit the original, it's a simple matter of just selecting the embedded image and choosing Unembed Link. And if you don't have the original file, like let's say that I tossed out that original file, I could say please create it on your own. So if you want to link to the original file, no. It will say where do you want me to save the unembedded link. I'll say save it to my Desktop, click Choose and it saves it right to the Desktop. So if I look at my Desktop you can see there is the EPS image. So embedding is actually a very robust feature in InDesign and it's closely related to linking. I wouldn't recommend it for jobs you are sending to a printer, but because it usually freaks printers out, but it's perfectly acceptable for jobs that are going to be in house, like you know your local newsletter or your tips and trick sheet that you are creating for your colleagues. If you are just bringing in screenshots or peoples' head-shots go ahead and embed them, because it's not going to increase the file size that much, and that way you don't have to keep track of the original images.

So knowing your way around links, having the confidence to embed when it's most convenient and when it makes sense, is another great homework of a super user InDesign user.

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