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Understanding InDesign color settings

From: InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics

Video: Understanding InDesign color settings

Everyone wants to get more consistent color. Everyone wants to trust the colors that you see on screen and get better, more accurate output, but to accomplish this we have to delve into the realm of color management. Now Chris Murphy, who co-authored the great book "Real World Color Management", notes that talking about color management in InDesign can quickly become, in his words, explosively complex. And that is so true! In fact, even though I am going to talk quite a bit about color management here in this chapter, if I use words or concepts that are mysterious to you in any way, I encourage you to go view his video title on the Online Training Library, called Color Management Essential Training. He goes much further into this than I can in this title.

Understanding InDesign color settings

Everyone wants to get more consistent color. Everyone wants to trust the colors that you see on screen and get better, more accurate output, but to accomplish this we have to delve into the realm of color management. Now Chris Murphy, who co-authored the great book "Real World Color Management", notes that talking about color management in InDesign can quickly become, in his words, explosively complex. And that is so true! In fact, even though I am going to talk quite a bit about color management here in this chapter, if I use words or concepts that are mysterious to you in any way, I encourage you to go view his video title on the Online Training Library, called Color Management Essential Training. He goes much further into this than I can in this title.

Okay. That said, let's dive in and tackle InDesign's Color Settings dialog box, which you can find by going to the Edit menu and choosing Color Settings. The Color Settings dialog box has a lot of very confusing features, but let's take them one at a time. Settings gives you a bunch of presets that Adobe recommends as the settings that you might want to use inside the Color Settings dialog box. If you change this, all it is really doing is it's changing the settings within the dialog box. It's just a bunch of presets. I usually use the General Purpose preset here in InDesign, but I use the Prepress setting in Photoshop and I do not want to get into all the technical reasons why I do that, but in general, I find it more useful for my setup to do prepress in Photoshop.

The only problem there is if you do that, you are going to find that this says Unsynchronized at the top and you know, Adobe makes a big deal about things being synchronized across all the Creative Suite applications. It is really not that necessary once you really learn about what you are doing, but in general, I think it is safe as long as you have General Purpose in InDesign and Photoshop set to Prepress, it is fine. But I am going to leave this set to General Purpose here in InDesign. Oh, I should point out there is an Advanced Mode in this dialog box. If you turn on Advanced Mode, you just get a lot more Options. For example, here is a bunch of other presets, but in general, I just do not bother with that.

The other thing that you get with the Advanced Mode are these Conversion Options. For example, you can choose which Color Management Engine to use. I just leave it set to Adobe. In fact, I think there is no reason to use anything other than that personally. You can change your rendering intent. Maybe once in a blue moon you might want to change that. I don't know. I don't want to get into rendering intent too much here. It is very rare that you would need to change that and you can choose whether to use the Black Point Compensation which again very, very rare that you would need to change that. I personally just leave Advanced Mode off. That seems to work in most cases.

Okay. Let's talk about working spaces. This is important. Every InDesign document has a CMYK and an RGB profile that it uses when it doesn't know what else to use. For example, let's say you define a CMYK color in the Swatches panel. Well, what CMYK are you basing it on? What profile? That's right. The CMYK working space profile defined right here. Here is another example. Let's say you download an image off the web and it doesn't have an embedded profile in it and you import it into InDesign. Well, what RGB profile should InDesign assume it to be? That's right. The RGB working space profile. So these are the Default Settings that InDesign uses when it doesn't know what else to use. It's very rare, in fact, I can't think of any good reason to change the RGB to anything other than SRGB. I don't know. It maybe some very obscure corner case, but generally SRGB is a safe bet there.

Now the CMYK working space you might want to change. It is rare, but you might want to change. For example, let's say you are a magazine and you are going to be outputting to the same printing press, same ink, same paper stock, and your printer has given you a specialized color profile for that output condition. You could choose that here and then all the new documents you create will be targeted to that condition. So that would be a good reason to change the CMYK working space here. Similarly, if you know that you are going to be printing on a sheetfed coated paper all the time, all your documents are going to brochures that are going to printed on sheetfed, you might as well choose that now and InDesign will then just assume that your documents are targeted towards that. For the rest of us, you know, setting this to the regular US Web-Coated Swap, at least here in North America is a good safe bet.

Now, Color Policies. I would say that unless you have a very good reason to, just leave these set to the defaults. That set I will tell you a little bit about each one of these. RGB is set to Preserve Embedded Profiles, which means that if you import an RGB image and it has an embedded profile, then you should honor that. You should tell InDesign you want to use that profile. If you set it to off, it will just ignore the profile and you will get very weird and probably unpleasant results. If you set it convert for working space, you are probably also going to get unpleasant results. I can't think of a good reason to use anything other than Preserve Embedded Profiles right now.

CMYK. Well, let's see. Once again there are some edge cases where there maybe reasons to change this. The current value, the default value of Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles) has kind of a cryptic comment there, but what that means is if you import a CMYK image into InDesign and let's say there is 50% cyan in that image, then just go ahead and pass it through as 50% cyan. Do not try and color manage that document. Do not try and change the colors at all. In fact, even if there is an embedded profile in one of those CMYK images, just ignore it. That's what this means. Ignore Linked Profiles, meaning ignore the embedded profiles in your CMYK documents and you know, in general, that sounds little crazy, but in general, it tends to work best.

That's said, If you find yourself in a situation where you know a lot about color management and you are receiving a number of CMYK images from different sources around the world and these images have embedded profiles and you need to respect those profiles for some reason, then maybe change this to Preserve Embedded Profiles. That way the profiles will actually be honored and the CMYK images will be converted at print time or when you make a PDF, but for most of us, leaving this set to Preserve Numbers is a good safe bet and in fact, even if you do import a CMYK image and you do want to honor that, I will tell you later on in this chapter how you can do that even if this is set to Preserve Numbers. So I leave that set to Preserve Numbers and just on a one-by-one basis, choose on my CMYK images whether I want to honor the profiles. I just like this value much more.

Now Profile Mismatches. I am just going to tell you now in InDesign, I leave these off. On the other hand, in Photoshop, I have them turned on. That's one of the big differences between the General Purpose and Prepress. In Prepress, these are all turned on, but in General Purpose, they are turned off and the reason is in Photoshop, I really want to know when I have a document that has a different color setting than I am used to using. That's important to me in Photoshop, but in InDesign it would probably do nothing but confuse you, if you have those turned on. It is not just you. It confuses me too.

It is really quite confusing what's going on there. I want to be really clear here. These Profile Mismatches or Missing Profiles, this has nothing to do with importing images. This only has to do with when you open a document that somebody has sent you or you open an old document or something, if it has a different profile, in other words, if it has different working spaces and different policies than your current Color Settings dialog box, then it would give you a mismatch or if it doesn't have any profile associated with it, then it would give you a missing profile. But that is just InDesign document as a whole and in general, I do not care if it has different settings. It is rare that I care. I typically just wanted to open in InDesign and InDesign will by default honor those settings, so it is not like it is throwing them away, it will honor those settings in that document and everything is just hunky-dory.

So that said, I leave them off. I recommend you do too. I will point our there is also Load and Save button in this dialog box. You could, if you wanted to save all your settings to a CSF file, send them to somebody else and they could import it with a load document, but I have honestly never needed to that, so I just ignore those buttons myself. Now there is one other very important thing to note in this dialog box and that is the settings that you choose here do not affect the current document that is open and it does not affect any other documents you have already made. This is only setting things up for new documents that you create in the future. It is a weird thing, but that's the way it works. Now as for documents you have already made like this one, unfortunately, it is somewhat painful to change the policies on these and that is why you generally want to set them up before you create the document, but you can however change the working spaces of your existing documents relatively easily using the Assign Profiles and Convert to Profile features and that's what I am going to be covering in the next movie.

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This video is part of

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InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics

90 video lessons · 24645 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
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  1. 2m 11s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 8s
  2. 25m 16s
    1. Reviewing Control panel shortcuts
      8m 34s
    2. Managing panels
      6m 14s
    3. Letting InDesign do the math
      2m 52s
    4. Using Selection tool clicks
      1m 39s
    5. Using Quick Apply shortcuts
      3m 2s
    6. Setting up context shortcuts
      2m 55s
  3. 23m 51s
    1. Using column guides
      3m 42s
    2. Formatting and positioning guides
      5m 15s
    3. Setting first baseline options
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Document grid
      3m 13s
    5. Setting bleeds
      3m 3s
    6. Using slugs
      3m 8s
  4. 48m 2s
    1. Shuffling pages (or not)
      2m 47s
    2. Scaling objects to a specific size
      2m 32s
    3. Aligning objects to a page
      4m 41s
    4. Using advanced libraries
      4m 5s
    5. Using advanced anchored objects
      11m 21s
    6. Setting non-printing objects
      3m 10s
    7. Creating notes
      5m 23s
    8. Using Data Merge
      10m 41s
    9. Creating templates
      3m 22s
  5. 39m 32s
    1. Creating polygons and starbursts
      2m 35s
    2. Setting custom stroke styles
      5m 15s
    3. Using advanced effects
      8m 46s
    4. Making masks in InDesign
      4m 10s
    5. Integrating InDesign and Illustrator
      4m 59s
    6. Setting compound paths
      5m 4s
    7. Using advanced clipping paths
      6m 6s
    8. Using advanced image transparency
      2m 37s
  6. 55m 26s
    1. Using advanced text formatting
      5m 37s
    2. Using other languages
      4m 22s
    3. Setting advanced paragraph numbering
      3m 12s
    4. Using GREP to find/change
      6m 54s
    5. Managing glyphs
      5m 6s
    6. Finding and changing glyphs
      2m 39s
    7. Adding footnotes
      7m 57s
    8. Creating outlines
      3m 39s
    9. Setting conditional text
      9m 16s
    10. Creating cross-references
      6m 44s
  7. 33m 3s
    1. Advanced text importing
      7m 49s
    2. Using Apply Next Style
      5m 4s
    3. Advanced text styling
      6m 9s
    4. Setting load styles
      2m 58s
    5. Linking to text files on disk
      4m 1s
    6. Understanding GREP styles
      7m 2s
  8. 1h 4m
    1. Building a multi-document book
      4m 42s
    2. Setting page numbering across books
      7m 53s
    3. Setting chapter numbering
      6m 7s
    4. Using the Section Marker feature
      6m 53s
    5. Creating "Continued On..." numbers
      4m 44s
    6. Synchronizing documents in a book
      5m 41s
    7. Creating a table of contents
      11m 24s
    8. Indexing documents
      7m 24s
    9. Generating an index
      6m 47s
    10. Printing or exporting a book
      3m 10s
  9. 46m 4s
    1. Creating hyperlinks
      12m 53s
    2. Setting bookmarks
      6m 7s
    3. Creating buttons
      11m 16s
    4. Making movies
      8m 24s
    5. Creating sounds
      4m 51s
    6. Setting page transitions
      2m 33s
  10. 25m 59s
    1. Setting up swatch and style defaults
      3m 24s
    2. Using mixed ink colors
      6m 16s
    3. Working with duotones
      4m 23s
    4. Overprinting
      2m 10s
    5. Ink aliasing
      4m 50s
    6. Using the Kuler panel
      4m 56s
  11. 50m 27s
    1. Creating the transparency blend space
      4m 6s
    2. Understanding InDesign color settings
      9m 8s
    3. Assign Profile and Convert to Profile
      3m 26s
    4. Working with RGB images
      7m 54s
    5. Working with CMYK images
      6m 28s
    6. Soft-proofing
      5m 18s
    7. Managing color at print time
      7m 25s
    8. Managing color in a PDF export
      6m 42s
  12. 42m 1s
    1. Embedding preflight profiles
      5m 1s
    2. Using the Transparency Flattener preview
      3m 23s
    3. Reviewing Transparency Flattener settings
      6m 30s
    4. Setting print presets
      3m 35s
    5. Setting PDF presets
      3m 21s
    6. Exporting to XHTML
      7m 42s
    7. Exporting to SWF
      6m 45s
    8. Exporting to XFL
      5m 44s
  13. 25m 58s
    1. Understanding XML and InDesign
      6m 51s
    2. Structuring InDesign content
      4m 17s
    3. Importing XML
      6m 57s
    4. Exporting to XML
      7m 53s
  14. 34s
    1. Goodbye
      34s

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