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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

Exporting interactive PDFs from InDesign


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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs

with David Blatner

Video: Exporting interactive PDFs from InDesign

As I said in the last movie, the best way to preview your interactive PDF files is to look at them in Acrobat, whether you're just testing how something works or creating your final document to distribute to the world, it's crucial that you understand the process of exporting interactive PDF's. There's actually two kinds of interactive documents, and you export them slightly differently. This document is a simple file. It's just a layout, and it has a couple of hyperlinks in it. This word over here has a hyperlink on it, and this logo in the lower left corner has a hyperlink attached to it.

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InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs
2h 22m Intermediate Jul 23, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2014

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While PDFs can be used for printing, they also have interactive features that make them great for forms, brochures, and prototypes. In this course, InDesign insider David Blatner tells you what interactive PDFs are, why they're so useful, and how to make them yourself with Adobe InDesign and Acrobat. Learn to make hyperlinks to websites, other pages in your document, and email; add buttons that navigate, show, and hide content; create a form with check boxes and text entry fields; and embed audio and video. Plus, discover how to add polish with calculations, page transitions, and more.

Topics include:
  • Creating a new interactive document
  • Linking to URLs and mail addresses
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Adding buttons with rollover states
  • Adding text, list, and submit fields to forms
  • Embedding audio and video
  • Adding page transitions
  • Best practices for exporting high-quality interactive PDF files
Subjects:
Design Digital Publishing PDF
Software:
InDesign
Author:
David Blatner

Exporting interactive PDFs from InDesign

As I said in the last movie, the best way to preview your interactive PDF files is to look at them in Acrobat, whether you're just testing how something works or creating your final document to distribute to the world, it's crucial that you understand the process of exporting interactive PDF's. There's actually two kinds of interactive documents, and you export them slightly differently. This document is a simple file. It's just a layout, and it has a couple of hyperlinks in it. This word over here has a hyperlink on it, and this logo in the lower left corner has a hyperlink attached to it.

I'll explain how to make these hyperlinks in a later chapter, but for right now, just believe me, there's links attached to them. So there's nothing fancy about this document. I just expect somebody's going to open the PDF, read it, and maybe they'll print it on their desktop printer. So to export this PDF I'm going to go to the File menu, choose Export, and then from the format popup menu I'm going to choose Adobe PDF Print. Now you'll notice there's two different PDF's here. PDF Print or PDF Interactive. If your document has movies, sounds, buttons, things like that then you probably want to choose Adobe PDF Interactive but for most of the documents I recommend Adobe PDF Print. Adobe PDF Print can handle hyperlinks and book marks just fine and it also gives you more control over the color in your document, earlier in this chapter I talked about how this particular document was set up with a CMYK transparency blend space. Most InDesign documents are.

When you export as Adobe PDF Interactive, then all your colors are forced into the RGB work space, but with Adobe PDF Print, you have a choice. You can get CMYK or RGB. So let's go ahead and do that and click Save. Up comes the Export Adobe PDF dialogue box that we're all familiar with. And, I'm going to make a few changes here to optimize this for interactive PDF. First of all, from the Adobe PDF preset pop-up menu, I'm probably going to choose Smallest File Size. At least, that's where I'm going to start.

The other options in here like PDF X1A are great for printing, but they're not so good for interactive PDF's. Things that you're going to be putting on a website or displaying primarily on screen. So, smallest file size is a great place to start. But in my opinion, it's not a great place to end up. You want to make a few changes. For example, I always turn on Create Tagged PDF. This allows people with visual disabilities to be able read your PDF with a screen reader. It also allows text to be able to be copied and pasted out more easily, and also for that text to be searchable. Of course because this document has hyperlinks and maybe bookmarks in it, I'll turn on the bookmarks check box down here at the bottom, and that automatically turns on the hyperlinks check box as well.

If you don't turn those on, you won't get that interactivity. Let's jump to the compression page of the dialog box, and I can see immediately that the resolution on my color images is too low. Right now it's up to a 100, which means, that it's going to be really pix-elated. I almost always set this to 150 pixels per inch. That way I get a better quality image, and my reader, the person looking at my PDF, can zoom in on the PDF up to 200%, and it still looks really good. The other thing I'm going to increase is the image quality. I usually change this to medium. You might want to go to high or maximum, but for interactive documents, or things that you're printing on a desktop printer, you very rarely need to. Medium is pretty good.

Let's set that to the gray scale images as well, and move on. In Marks and Bleeds I typically don't need to do anything, because Marks and Bleeds and Slug, and all of these things have to do with print PDF, not interactive. This Output pane looks kind of technical, but it's really important that you understand this is how you tell in InDesign whether to convert your colors into RGB or leave them as CMYK. By default, because I chose Smallest File Size from the PDF preset, the color conversion is set to convert to destination, and the destination is SRGB. That means all my colors CMYK, RGB.

Everything is going to be forced into SRGB, and that might be fine, or it might not. Earlier in this chapter we saw what would happen if the CMYK color blend space was going to be changed into RGB. The colors would get all messed up. So I have some control here. If I leave it the way it is it will convert to RGB. Or I could change this to no color conversion. This way RGB and CMYK colors are simply passed through and it'll look the way it does in InDesign. Now I will point out that your PDF's tend to be a little bit larger when you do this.

You might get better results if you have no color conversion and also set this to don't include profiles. That tends to make your files a little bit smaller. So one more time, because I know this is technical, if you have CMYK and RGB images and you want to make sure they stay CMYK and RGB, you probably want to use no color conversion. And if you want everything converted into RGB, and have a nice small file size, then you choose Convert to Destination and have the destination set to SRGB. There's other options in here as well, for example security settings.

You could require a password to open the document, or you could allow people to copy and paste text out of it if you want to, or not. I'm going to leave it set just the way it is, and I'll click Export and export this PDF to disk. Now you'll notice that InDesign gives me a warning. Because the transparency blend space was set to CMYK in this document and I was forcing it into RGB, InDesign is telling me there may be color changes that occur. I'll go ahead and click OK and see what happens. There it is in Acrobat. I'll click the Fit Page in Window and you can see that the colors really did change. There it is in Acrobat, here it is in InDesign.

So if those colors were important to us, we would have to go back, and export that as a PDF again, and tell it not to convert the colors. That way the CMYK would be passed through untouched. Let's look at a totally different kind of document. This roux portfolio file from the exercise files folder is very different. This does have buttons. It has all kinds of interactivity built in to it. So this time to get my PDF out, I'll go to the File menu and choose Export, and now I'm going to choose Adobe PDF Interactive from the format pop-up menu. I'll click Save and you'll see that you have a very different dialogue box. Fortunately most of these features are familiar to you already, for example which pages do you want all of them or just a range.

Do yo want this exported as pages or spreads. Typically for an interactive document you'll choose spreads, but you have the choice., you can say whether you want to view the document after exporting. I always have that turned on. And the thumbnails and layer options are the same as they are in the other dialog box. I'm going to skip past these other features just for a minute here, because I want to turn on the Create Tagged PDF. Then I'm going to make sure the JPEG quality is set to Medium, and I'm going to increase my resolution to that 150 pixels per inch that I like so much. Let's go back up here and take a look at the new features, things that don't appear in the normal export PDF dialog box.

For example, you can specify what you want the initial view to be when somebody opens this PDF. I find the default is often too large and people can't see the whole page. So, I like choosing Fit Page. That way, it forces the entire page to fit inside the Acrobat window. The layout popup menu is also really helpful. Instead of going for default, which means just however the user has set up their copy of Acrobat, I like to specify, do I want just a single page visible, or a single page continuous, which means that you can scroll fluidly from one page to the next. If you're exporting a book where there's a left hand and a right hand page, and also a cover page at the beginning.

You may want to choose two-up cover page. That really makes it simulate a book with a cover, and then a left and right hand page next to each other on a spread in side Acrobat. For almost all interactive documents that I create, I just choose Single Page. That way I get one page at a time, without anything else on the screen. In the middle here, you have a choice to open this PDF in full screen mode. That is, as soon as the user opens the PDF, it'll go right into full screen mode. Very few users want the PDF to change their screen display, so I leave that turned off.

If they want to see it in full screen mode, then they can go into full screen mode right in Acrobat by themselves. That said, if you do turn it on. Then you get two options. For example, you could turn on the flip pages every so often. And that's kind of good for like an automatically advancing slide show. I'm going to leave that turned off. The other thing you can do is change the page transitions, and that's a feature that I'll be talking about in a later chapter. But, I will say right now that page transitions only work when the user has a PDF in full screen mode. I usually do not have that turned on, so I ignore those features. And finally, Forms and Media.

What's that all about? If you choose Include All, then you get your buttons and your movies and all those cool interactive things that you want. If you include Appearance Only, then all of those things show up just at the appearance. They don't work. The buttons don't work. The movies don't work. Just leave it set to Include All. Or else you're going to lose all the reason that you're using this dialogue box. Now I'll click OK and InDesign exports this out to a PDF and it'll open it up in Acrobat. There we go. There's our interactive PDF.

We can see that our rollovers work. If we had hyperlinks, they would work. If we had movies, they would work. It's a thing of beauty.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign Insider Training: Interactive PDFs.


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Q: I am trying to turn objects in a layered InDesign document into buttons, following the lessons in Chapter 3, but they don't show up when I export to PDF. What's wrong?
A: This is a known issue with InDesign, stacked layers, and buttons. The final stacking order in your PDF is actually determined by the order the buttons are created, not the stacking order of the layers in your document. David Blatner has researched and proposed a solution to this issue on his InDesign Secrets blog. Read more about it here.
Q: This course was updated on 01/17/2014. What changed?
A: The author updated three movies in the "Links and Bookmarks" chapter, since the behavior of hyperlinks has recently changed in InDesign CC.
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