Indesign creating PDFs

by Design Workshop Sydney

For many users the final step in designing their Indesign documents is to create a PDF, either for printing or for online viewing. We cover both of these outcomes in our Indesign training courses.Indesign-create-PDFs
The file format PDF stands for Portable Document Forma, and is the preferred file type  for many digital printers. For example high street printers often will ask for PDFs for print-runs of under 1000 units. The PDF is also a good format for sending the work to your co-workers or clients, because basically anyone with a computer can view a PDF. If not, they can download the free Adobe Reader from The PDF is also good for printing from a desktop printer. The main advantages of PDFs are their small file size, and the fact that the client can’t easily edit it. It’s also good enough resolution for printing.
So to create our PDF go to the File drop-down menu and choose Adobe PDF Presets followed by the High Quality Print option. We find in the drop-down list 6 different PDF presets. Nine times out of ten you’d choose the top one, High Quality Print.
The PDF/X and Press Quality presets are mainly used by magazines and newspapers due to their facility in the plate separation process for Full Colour (or Offset) printing. It’s best not to use these options unless specifically requested. The option of Smallest File Size is fine for text documents only like forms, since images may appear pixelated.
For the online version we first choose a destination and hit Save. Most of the settings don’t need changed since they are dealt with under the chosen preset. However in the General category tick View PDF after Exporting, and tick Hyperlinks for online viewing, then hit Export. The PDF creation should only take a few seconds and open automatically in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
For the print version return to the File menu and choose Adobe PDF Presets again, and also High Quality Print. This time tick Spreads for a multi-page print document, then go to Marks & Bleeds on the left-hand column. If the job is being printed by a commercial printer it’s a good idea to tick All Printers’ Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings. Then click Export. The resultant PDF will open again in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.
Many useful techniques and processes may be found in Indesign users forums and websites, as well as Adobe Users groups worldwide – most capital cities host such groups on a monthly basis, for example the Sydney Adobe Users group in Sydney’s CBD.
More tips and techniques can be found at There are many tutorials and forums for designers to discuss topics and the latest Indesign features. See also many examples of our own clients’ work on our Facebook page.
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