Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video PDFs from Adobe InDesign, part of Acrobat DC Essential Training.
- Adobe InDesign contains built in PDF creation capabilities. There's no need to print to PDF, or export a post-script file and run it through Distiller to create a PDF file. If those concepts are foreign to you, well good, I'm glad. But if you've been asked to create the PDF by either of those methods, well, politely decline, and let me show you why. The proper way is to export to PDF using InDesign's built in PDF creation features. And you can start that export process one of two ways, you could choose File, Export, find your target directory and then choose from either Interactive PDF or Print PDF.
Now this document is destined for print, but let me give you a quick glimpse of the interactive features. If I choose that option, I can select Spreads, View after Exporting, meaning it's going to launch Acrobat if it's not running and show me the PDF. Embed Page Thumbnails, I think that adds unnecessary size to the file, so I would uncheck that. I don't need layers, but if you did, this would be the way you would maintain them. And then the view, this is kind of nice, you can control how that PDF is going to open up on someone else's computer.
And my favorite is Fit Page, and then for Layout, Single Page. And then Presentation? Well if this were something that I were going to display as a slideshow, I would choose Open in Full Screen Mode. I could even build in a time delay so that the pages automatically display and change every few seconds. That's a little pushy, I think. I think I would only do this for files that I was going to use later on, but it's up to you and your recipient how you would make your choices here. Page Transitions, you could add transitions such as Dissolve and Blinds, things like that.
If there are any form fields, or any media, audio or video, you'd want to include all of those. Appearance Only means that you would see representations of content, like video, but they wouldn't actually be live video. Create Tagged PDF provides some underlying structure in the PDF that enables screen reading software to read content in the correct order, and that's for people who are visually impaired and need a screen reader to access information. Tagged PDF is not necessary for this.
And then Compression, I could choose what kind of compression is applied. Glossy makes for a smaller file. And then I can choose how compressed it's going to be. If I go for minimum, any photos are going to look pretty bad. Maximum, they'll look really nice, but then I'll have a really big file. So you have to sort of determine, based on the content, which of these options would be appropriate. And then you can choose the Resolution for your final image content. I generally wouldn't go above 96 if I'm creating a PDF that's going to be viewed on screen, because frankly, anything beyond that is pretty much wasted.
If I wanted to, I could apply passwords, both to prevent someone from opening the document, and to prevent someone from changing any restrictions I have put on the document. But for this file, I'm creating this and I'm sending it to a printer, so I'm not going to make an Interactive PDF. So let me take another route. I can go to File, Adobe PDF Presets, and I can pick one of these presets. The brackets around the names mean that they are factory presets, so they ship as part of InDesign. Or I could choose Define and create a new one.
I actually am going to create a new one, but I'm going to do it a slightly different way, just because it gives me an opportunity to show you a bunch of the features. So I'm just going to start with High Quality Print. Again, I pick the target, but it hasn't actually made the PDF yet. It won't until I finish all of my choices here. So High Quality Print consists of these features. It's compatible with Acrobat 5 and later, and by the way, you get a little description, which I think is helpful. It gives you an idea of what path you're on. Do I want all of the pages? Yes.
Would I want them as Single Pages or as Spreads? Now this document is built in two page spreads, it's an eight page document, If I'm supplying this to a printer I don't want to supply it in spreads because they need to position the pages in what's called in position for proper printing order, so that would not be appropriate, so I would leave that at pages. Embed Page Thumbnails, adds to file size unnecessarily. Optimize for Fast Web View? Again, this is going to a printer so that's really not necessary nor is it beneficial. Create Tagged PDF, although this won't be read by someone using screen reading software, since it's destined for print, create tagged PDF can sometimes make it easier to edit that PDF if someone needs to make minor changes to text, assuming they have the correct fonts.
So I will probably leave that in affect. View PDF after Exporting, yes, I'd like to see it when it's done. I don't use layers in this document for versioning or for language or anything, but here are your controls. You could say All Layers, All Visible Layers. Some people use Hidden Layers for notes and stuff like that. But here, Visible and Printable, those are going to be included. Again, because this is destined for print, bookmarks and hyperlinks aren't pertinent. However, there might come a time that you're creating a document that's destined both for print and for online viewing and you can create hyperlinks and bookmarks and have those be available in that PDF if someone views it online.
Not true in this document, but just be aware that's possible, even if you haven't chosen that Interactive PDF. Non-Printing Objects, I don't have any non-printing objects that I now want to have print. Visible Guides and Baseline Grids. I use that sometimes early in the process when I'm working with someone to create templates and I want them to see my guidelines and so forth. Not appropriate for the finished job, you don't want to see guidelines and baseline grids on press. Don't have any Interactive Developments, so naturally they won't be included. Under Compression, it's the same question three times.
How should InDesign handle color images, grayscale images, and monochrome or bitmap images. In order to make a smaller PDF it can squeeze two ways, it can throw away pixels by down-sampling and it can apply compression. So let's take a look at the options there and what choices you might want to make. You have dump-down sample, in which case every single pixel goes through. Average down-sampling and sub-sampling can result in, well let's say unnattractive results, so I tend to use the default, which is by cubic down-sampling.
But if you want to make your PDF just a little bit smaller, you notice that there are two numbers here, 300 pixels per inch for images that are above 450. In other words, anything between 300 and 450 won't get down-sampled. If you make both of these fields the same, then anything that's above 300, 301, is still going to get down-sampled. And don't cringe when you see JPEG. JPEG is not inherently evil. It's okay to use some JPEG compression as long as the image quality is set to maximum, you won't see those ugly rectangular artifact.
So I'm going to apply that same little threshold down here in grayscale images and then I tend to leave the monochrome images as they are, even though that seems like really high-resolution and possibly big image content. Monochrome images are sort of special types of files and they're actually pretty small to begin with. Compressed Text and Line Art and then Crop Image Data to Frames, and by the way this is a good reason to use TIFF or PSD for your image formats rather than EPS for image formats. You can't crop EPS images.
You can crop TIFFs and PSDs so anything that's outside a frame disappears, makes a smaller PDF. Marks and Bleeds, I know this document needs bleed because it has artwork that extends to the edge, therefore it needs to extend beyond the edge. So I want to make sure that that's included so I check Use Document Bleed Settings. Now this was set up for a European size, so it's eight points, that might seem a little bit odd to you. Keep in mind, you can always enter a value in whatever measurement system you like. So here, I could say, "Well I know that I want this to be .125 inch." All I have to do is type .125 in, hit my tab key, that's converted to nine points, so I'm going to leave it at that rather than using the document bleed settings.
But I'll give you a little caution about that check mark for document bleed settings. You already saw what it did, it accepted the setting that was included when this document was created. If I hadn't set up a bleed, or the creator of this document hadn't set up a bleed, that would mean that the bleed value is zero. And when you check this, you'll get zero bleed. Always a good idea to take a look at these fields and make sure they're showing the right amount of bleed. There's no Slug Area to find for this document so I won't be including that. Now as far as Marks go, most printers don't require you to add trim marks, if your printer asks for it well, by all means, include them.
But if you built the file the right size, and included bleed, when they incorporate your PDF into their in position process it should just fall into place without marks. They don't need marks to position, they're really going by dimensions. But if they do ask for marks, here's how you would choose. They would probably want Crop Marks, they might want Bleed Marks, and usually don't need Registration Marks, or Color Bars, but they might ask for Page Information. Again, don't make any assumptions, ask the printer. And then for Output, High Quality Print leaves RGB content intact.
It doesn't convert it to CMYK. Any CMYK content is going to stay the same and any Spot Color content is going to stay Spot Color. That's what No Color Conversion means. Under Advanced, fonts are always embedded and subset, and that means that the resulting PDF is going to be safe to view and print. However, if somebody tries to edit it, unless they have the correct fonts, they're going to mess up the text. And that's why it's not a good idea to try to edit PDFs, they can kind of fall apart. Security, you can add the two passwords, one to protect it from being opened by the wrong person, one to prevent anyone from changing any restrictions you've put on the document.
But if you're sending this for print you don't want to have either one of these checked. A lot of workflows will reject a file that has any kind of security on it. The Summary just gives you a summary of everything you've chosen. So that's kind of a quick overview. What would I do if I'm sending to a printer? Well, I would ask exactly what they want. I'd ask them if they could even send me what's called a job options file that I could import and then use as a target preset here. If they can't give me any information at all, then I would choose PDF X-1a 2001, that's a long time ago, isn't it, so why would I go back that far in time? Because the X, the exchange presets, are sets of specifications that we know will image and over the years, those presets have evolved as workflows get more sophisticated.
So there's X3 and X4, and a quick difference between them, X1 says you can have CMYK content, if it's RGB it will be converted to CMYK in the outgoing PDF. You can have spot colors and for the trim and bleed art need to be defined and fonts need to be imbedded. X3 says, well, you can have RGB, we're all right, we'll pass that through. And you can have CMYK and spot. But neither X-1a or X3 allows live transparencies, so anything you have in the way, of say, drop shadows or soft edge masks coming from Photoshop are going to be flattened out.
That doesn't change your original content but it makes a file going out the door that's sort of simplified for older workflows. X4 is much more modern, it allows for RGB content and live transparency. So if you're dealing with a very modern, up to date printer, they're probably going to ask you to submit X4. Press Quality allows you to have live transparency. It's going to convert your output to CMYK. Whereas high quality doesn't. X1 will convert to CMYK, X3 and 4 will not.
And then Smallest File Size, as the name implies, is going to really squish your images to make a smaller PDF. It's going to down-sample aggressively, it's going to compress using aggressive JPEG compression, image quality low, your photos are going to look pretty rough. But you'll have a smaller PDF. So with all of these options, how do I decide how I'm going to send this file? Well, I have some information from the printer and what I'm going to do is start with press quality but change a couple of things. In compression, I'm going to set both of these fields to the same number, just to squeeze off a little bit of size.
We'll never see it in the output. They don't need marks. They do need bleed. I want to make sure that they have adequate bleed. And they say, actually, 8-1/2 points, that's enough. So I'm fine there. My Output, CMYK content will remain, RGB gets converted to CMYK. Spot stays spot, that's all fine. And then going back to General, I want to view this after exporting. Well, after I've made those changes, you see Modified after the press quality indicator, because obviously I've modified it.
Well, what if I'm repeatedly making those changes, that gets kind of tiresome and time consuming. So, at the lower left of the dialog I can choose Save Preset and then I'll just call this press job, and this is the one I'm going to use going forward in the future, at least for this one printer. When I click okay, it's now saved that, and here's another little tip, if you're going through here and you're changing your settings and you think, "Oh, I'm not sure, what are the defaults?" Watch that cancel button. If I press and hold option or alt, it becomes a reset button.
That give me a fresh start, so if I then choose High Quality Print I'm back to the default factory settings. But since I saved my press job, there we go, I can always get back to that, even in future work sessions. So I'm going to export this and I want to make sure that this is in pages and not spreads. When I export, you won't notice anything's happening unless you look up here at the very top, and it's really easy to overlook. It's the world's smallest progress bar, that little vertical succession of dashes, that's your progress bar.
Of course the more complex the document the longer it's going to take to convert. But we'll take a look at this in Acrobat when it's finished. So here's the finished PDF in Acrobat. If I roll my cursor down at the lower left, you can see what the size is. It's originally 8-1/2, it's got a little bit of bleed on it, that's why this sort of odd number is there. I'm going to click the little triangle to open up the navigation pane and click on the thumbnails and you can see that each page is separate. Now that first page, and this might be a little bit confusing to you, that first page says page 12 and the next page is page 1.
That's because page 12 is the back cover, page 1 is the front cover. And as I drag down through, you can see all of the pages. So I think this is going to be fine, I think it's ready to send off to the printer. So as with any PDF that you create, you should know how the PDF file is going to be used. That guides your choice of settings. And this is especially true when you're supplying a PDF file to a publication or to a commercial printer. What I've shown you is just a general set of guidelines. It's really important to find out the precise specifications from your recipient before you create and send the PDF.
- Searching PDFs
- Creating PDFs from Microsoft Office and Adobe CC
- Printing to PDF
- Converting a scan to searchable text
- Adding hyperlinks and bookmarks
- Combining multiple PDFs
- Exporting to Office, HTML, or RTF formats
- Commenting and reviewing
- Building fillable forms
- Adding interactivity
- Protecting content
- Ensuring accessibility