Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Building a new interactive document, part of InDesign: Interactive PDFs.
- [Instructor] I'm not going to spend a lot of time creating a document from scratch. After all, you already know how to make pages in InDesign. But I do want to talk about how you might want to set up your InDesign file. Whether you're building a new one, or if you already have a document that you want to convert into an interactive .pdf. Let's start with a document that we already have. This file was laid out as a tri-fold, and it looks ready to print. And, in fact, it was originally designed for print. But now, we've decided to put it on a webpage for download.
We're not going to be adding a lot of interactivity to this. Maybe we'll just add a few hyperlinks. So really, because this is a very simple document, I don't really need to do anything special in order to get it ready to be an interactive document. But, I do want to take a moment and look at a couple of things. For example, colors can sometimes be an issue when you're creating interactive .pdfs. So, I'm going to go over here to my Swatches panel. And I'll open that. And I can see that most of these colors are set up as CMYK colors.
But a few of them are RGB. I can tell that by the type of icon in the right column of the Swatches panel. Now, if I were sending this document to be printed on a printing press, this might raise some alarms. I typically do not want to use RGB for a commercially printed piece. But, for a document that I'm putting up on a website mostly seen on screen and maybe printed on a desktop printer? RGB is totally fine. And you can mix RGB and CMYK together in the same document.
But there's another color setting inside of InDesign that most people don't know about. And it's hiding over here under the Edit menu. Way down here, near the bottom, you can find Transparency Blend Space. The Transparency Blend Space has to do with how colors are blended together when you use Transparency Effects, like the effects that you typically get from the Effects panel. Opacity, blending mode, and so on. Now most documents are set to Document CMYK, and that's fine for documents that are going to be printed.
That's typically what you'd want. But for interactive .pdf documents, ones that are going to be shown on screen mostly? Well, you want to use Document RGB. The reason is that you can get much brighter, richer colors when working in RGB. Those colors might not be printable, but if your document is going to be mostly seen on screen, then who cares? If somebody does print your .pdf, it'll still look good. But when they look at it on screen, it'll look great. However, sometimes when you change the blend space to RGB, the colors can change on screen.
If that happens, you may have to adjust some of your transparency effects. Okay, now let's talk about creating a new document, something that's going to be destined primarily as an interactive .pdf. I'll go up to the File menu, I'll choose New, and then Document. The very first thing you need to pay attention to in the New Document dialogue box is the intent. In the old legacy New Document dialogue box, there was actually a pop-up men labeled Intent.
But here, in the new New Document dialogue box, we have these three labels up at the top. Print, Web, and Mobile. Right now, it's set to Print. But I'm going to click on Web to switch over to that mode. Now I know what you're thinking, I'm not doing a webpage. But that's okay. Adobe came up with this crazy wording, and it doesn't really mean web, it just means onscreen. When you choose the web intent, or the onscreen intent, I like to call it, it changes several things. First of all, it turns off facing pages down here, because you probably don't need facing pages in this kind of document.
It also changes all of your measurements to pixels instead of millimeters or picas or whatever you normally use. You could change that back if you want to. Now, by default it chooses this 800 by 600 pixel size, which is kind of small. So you probably want to use 1024 by 768 or something larger. I'll come over here and click on the View All presets button, and now I can click on 1024 768 and it loads it up into this side of the dialogue box.
Now, of course, because most screens are wider than they are tall, the orientation is automatically set to landscape. Again, you can change that if you want to. Now, there are a couple of other things that InDesign changes behind the scenes. I'll show you that in just a moment. Before I click that blue Create button, I want to scroll down here and I want to point out, there are a couple more features here. Interactive .pdfs don't have to worry about bleed and slug, so I'll just ignore that at the bottom. And, technically, interactive .pdfs don't really have to have margins, either.
But I usually like having a little bit of a margin, let's say 18 pixels. So I'll type 18 pixels. And because this Link icon is turned on, then when I hit Tab, all four fields get to be 18 pixels. Okay, now I'm going to click Create. And you can see that immediately, all of the colors inside my document, are set to RGB. Even the black color up here, that's RGB too. Now, RGB colors tend to be a little bit more bright, more saturated, than CMYK colors.
Now, the other thing that happens is because we chose a Web or onscreen intent, the Transparency Blend Space down here at the bottom of the Edit menu, it's automatically set to RGB. So that's good. Now, before I do anything else, I'm immediately going to do one more thing to this document that I think is really important. And that is to add layers. I'll open my Layers panel. And I'm going to create a new layer by option clicking, or alt-clicking on Windows, on the New Layer button down here.
That forces this dialogue box to open so that I can name this. I'll call this Text and Graphics. Some people like having text on one layer and graphics on another, but I'm just going to put them all on one. Then, I'm going to do one more layer here. And this time I'm going to call it Interactive. It's a good idea to have at least one whole layer for your interactive objects. You know, your hyperlinks, your buttons, videos, all the things that we're going to be learning how to do in later chapters. You want to have a layer that you can put them on.
See, this falls under the category of one of my primary laws of publishing, and that is, take a little bit of time now to set up your document so that you can save a whole lot more time later. Ultimately, so much depends on the assumptions that you have to make about where this document is going to be viewed and what people will do with it. Having a good foundation for your document like this is crucial to avoid problems down the line.
- Exporting interactive PDFs
- Inserting hyperlinks, bookmarks, and buttons
- Building interactive forms
- Adding text and list fields
- Adding multimedia such as sound and video
- Creating page transitions
- Working with animations and Flash