Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Export a PDF, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Narrator] The Acrobat PDF file format is without a doubt, thee most important core technology in the professional creative space today. If you want to send a proof to your client, you're likely to send them a PDF. If you want to send a finished document to a printer, you should probably send them a PDF. If you're trying to put documents on the web that can be viewed as well as printed, then you're going to use PDF. So, it's crucially important that as an InDesign user, you be able to create robust PDF documents.
Now, there are two ways to make a PDF file from InDesign. The first way is print a postscript file to disc from the dialogue box, and then use Acrobat Distiller to turn it into a PDF file, and that is what I can the ridiculously archaic method that we used back in the the 20th century. No, instead I'm going to focus on the 21st century method, and that is, you go to the file menu and choose export. Now InDesign lets you export PDF's directly out of the program. When you have the export PDF dialogue box open, you can name your file and choose where you want to save the PDF, and then you have to choose from two different PDF formats down here in the format popup menu.
There's Adobe PDF print and Adobe PDF interactive. As I mentioned in the last chapter, the interactive option should only be used if your document has movies and buttons, page transitions, those sorts of interactive features, but you're going to use Adobe PDF Print for pretty much everything else. Even documents that are primarily designed to be viewed onscreen that only have a little bit of interactivity, like hyperlinks and bookmarks, you want to use Adobe PDF print. It just gives you more options when you export.
Now, when I click save, up comes the export Adobe PDF dialogue box. There are a lot of options in here. I go into all the details of these features in my title here in the Online Training Library called InDesign, Print PDF's, but since we're just focusing on the essentials here, I recommend that everybody start by choosing one of the Adobe PDF presets in the popup menu at the top of the dialogue box. Now what you choose here, is based on where this PDF is going to, who's going to be viewing it, and what they're going to be doing with it? For example, if you're sending this PDF to a commercial printing press, you're probably going to want to use one of the PDF X options.
I know that these all sound kind of geeky, but this is a decision that you need to make with your printer. Just ask them. Do they want PDF/X-1a or maybe a PDF/X-3? Now if you're lucky, your printer will come back and say, you can give us PDF/X-4. X-4 is a much better quality, more robust PDF, because it allows them to print all kinds of things, like transparency, without any problems. Now on the other hand, if you don't know who's going to be printing this, like maybe you're sending an ad to a magazine or a newspaper, and you have no idea where it'll actually be printed, then the safest option is probably PDF/X-1a, but what if you're making a PDF that's not going to a commercial press, but you're simply going to be sending it for a proof, or maybe you're going to be sending it to someone to view onscreen, and maybe they're going to print it out on the desktop printer.
Let's use that as an example. In that case, I usually recommend you start with high quality print. Now you might be tempted to use this one down here, smallest file size, but I don't recommend that. I don't like that preset. It tends to dumb-down your PDF too much, and sometimes it'll change your colors and images in unexpected and unpleasant ways, so I'm going to choose high-quality print. At least, that's where I start, and then I start making changes to customize it to the output that I want.
For example, if this is a PDF that I'm sending someone to view onscreen, I almost always change the compatibility to at least Acrobat 6. Next, choose your page range. Do you want all of your pages or just a couple of them? Now if you have more than one page in your document, or you're using a multi-page spread like I am here, you have the choice of choosing pages or spreads. In this case, I'm going to choose spreads, and it'll put all the documents on my spread together onto a single PDF page. Now if you're going to put this PDF on a website, then I'd definitely recommend you turn on a create tag PDF.
That allows much better web SEO, and also, it allows people with visual disabilities to use this PDF with screen-reader software. It's far from perfect, but it does give them more flexibility, so I like turning that on. Also, if you've built a table of contents in your document, or you've made any hyperlinks or bookmarks, then you want to turn on the bookmarks and the hyperlinks check boxes down here. Note that these are the only interactive features that are saved out in a print PDF. Oh, one other change I'm going to make here.
I'm going to turn on view PDF after exporting. That way I can see the PDF after it's written to disc. Okay, now I'm going to click on compression over here to see these options. I'm going to make a few changes here, because I'm currently making a PDF that's going to be put on a website, and I'm expecting most people to see it onscreen. Maybe some of them will print it, but because of that, I'm definitely going to reduce the resolution of my images. I'll say reduce these to 150 ppi, that's pixels per inch.
I'll do that same thing to the gray scale images. Also, I'll change the image quality from maximum down to medium. Now again, for a commercial print job, I'd want to have higher resolution, and I'd definitely want to keep image quality to maximum, but for a web PDF, where file size matters, I'd leave it set to medium and just lower resolution. Over here in the marks and bleeds pane, I can choose whether to turn the marks on or off. You typically don't want any of those turned on for a PDF for web viewing of course, but if I were sending this to a commercial printing press, then I'd want to ask them, do you want crop marks? Do you want registration marks? Because these days, many printers don't want those things, because they're going to be adding them to the PDF themselves, but you should definitely check with them.
Now certainly, if you're printing a document that has bleed, objects that are bleeding off the side of the page, if you're printing them, then you definitely need to set your bleed settings down here. Again, that's if you're going to a commercial printing press. If you're just putting this onscreen, then you definitely don't want to have the bleed settings turned on, because you want it to be cropped off right at the edge of the page. So, I'm going to leave this turned off. Next, I'll go to the output pane. This pane is all about what's going to happen to the color in your documents, and it can get kind of complicated.
Fortunately, the PDF preset that you choose up at the top, generally sets up all these options the way you need them. For example, if you're making a PDF that's primarily for onscreen viewing, you may be printing on a desktop printer, then you definitely want to go ahead and use this setting, no color conversion, but include your tag source profiles. Okay, there are a bunch of other features that we could choose in here. For example, down here in the security pane, we could require a password in order to open up this PDF, but I don't need that for now.
Once you're done with choosing all of these options, it's time to click export, but when I click that export button, I want you to look up here in the application bar, behind the dialogue box, up at the top of the screen. You're going to see a little animation for a moment, and that animation is the PDF exporting, because PDF's actually export in the background. You don't see a dialogue box saying, page one, page two, and so on. They export in the background, and the only way to know that they're exporting, is by watching that little animation.
Alright, are you watching? I'm going to click the export dialogue box. There's the animation, and it's done. It exported the PDF, and it opened it automatically in Acrobat. Looks great! Making PDF's isn't difficult at all from InDesign. What is sometimes difficult, is making the right decisions for the quality that you're trying to achieve.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents