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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, Adobe's print and interactive page layout application, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
15 or 20 years ago a lot of people talked about the term WYSIWYG. What you see is what you get. But the word fell out of favor after people started to realize that they really couldn't trust what they saw on screen. Now InDesign makes WYSIWYG a reality because you can really trust your monitor. But you have to know how to manage InDesign's display options. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to zoom in down here on what I know is a vector image. This is an image from Illustrator, I know these are very sharp edges but if I zoom in a little bit more you'll see these are all pixelated. That's not right.
That's not what it's supposed to look like and it's certainly not what it looks like when I print it on my PostScript printer. So what's wrong? Why is InDesign not showing me these images accurately? Well, it's because I haven't told it to yet and I can tell it to show me the accurate images by going to the View menu and choosing from the Display Performance submenu. Right now it's set to Typical Display. I could change this to Fast Display if I want, but that of course just makes all my images go grey, so I don't know why you'd want to do that. I never work in that Display Performance setting.
Instead of Fast or Typical, you can also choose High Quality Display. And High Quality Display is much better. Look at that. Nice sharp edges. All the vectors are truly vectors. In fact even if I zoom in really, really close, you can see that no matter how close I go, they still show up as nice clean edges because that is what vector artwork is all about. So High Quality Display is great for vector. It's also great for pixel images, raster images, like this image from Photoshop in the background. You may still be able to see little pixels in here, but believe me, those are actual pixels.
We're seeing the true pixels. If I open that image in Photoshop, I would see exactly the same quality. So it can't get any better than that. If I go back to View and set this back to Typical Display, then everything gets really rough. We get low resolution pixels and low-resolution vectors. Now I could work in High Quality Display Mode, if I want to. There's nothing stopping me, except for one thing and that is Display Performance. You'll here that these settings actually live inside a submenu called Display Performance, and that's for a reason: because these affect your performance.
It's all about how fast InDesign will work. If you're on a super-fast machine, then sure, go ahead and work in High Quality Display. But if you're working on our average, run of the mill machine, you're probably going to work in Typical Display and then only switch to High Quality when you really want to see the best quality, especially if your document has a lot of images, and especially if it has a lot of high resolution pixel images, because that's what really bogs it down the most. I'm going to switch back to High Quality Display, because I'm working on a reasonably fast machine, and I'll zoom back here with Command+Minus, or Ctrl+Minus on Windows, just to see a little bit more of this document, and pan down with my Grabber Hand shortcut.
I just want to show you one other feature in InDesign that radically affects how accurate your screen display is. Now, you see this big orange box behind the image. I happen to know that that is not what this is supposed to look like. I'm supposed to be able to see through this orange to the image behind it. But I cannot see that on the screen. Why? Well, first I'll check to make sure that I'm in High Quality Display. Yes I am. Then I think, wait a minute, there's one other feature that controls the quality and that is this thing right at the top of the View menu called Overprint Preview.
Now, Overprint Preview controls a lot of things. They shouldn't just call it Overprint Preview, Adobe should have called it make the screen look better feature, but they didn't. They just called it Overprint Preview. So it's a little bit cryptic. But I'm telling you that what this does is it makes everything more accurate. And when you turn that on, you can actually see things more accurately. In this case, this orange frame, which was set to Overprint, actually becomes overprinting, we can actually see through it. So that's a big step-forward in being able to trust what we see on screen. Once again you can work while Overprint Preview is turned on, nothing stopping you, but it does slow you down a little bit.
So try it out, see if it's working. If it's too slow then go ahead and turn it off and just turn it on when you need an accurate proof. You know, knowing what you're looking at is key being efficient InDesign, it really lets you make the right design choices without having to print lots of proofs.
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