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Adobe InDesign Tips

All versions of InDesign are supported for both Apple Macintosh and Windows platforms. Here are some basic tips that apply to all software versions and for both platforms.

For even more tips please visit our Quick Tips section. This is our catch-all category for all manner of miscellaneous tips, tricks, program fixes, and workarounds to help you with building your artwork . We'll add new items from time to time so check in to see what's been added recently.

Document Setup Basics

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Creating Bleed

Set up bleeds in InDesign

Tip: Click the chain symbol on the right to make all four sides the same value.

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Exporting PDF Files from InDesign

As you would expect, InDesign makes it very easy to export high quality PDF files. The easiest way to export PDF files form InDesign is to use our customized presets.

Loading Our Customized Commercial Printing PDF Presets

To load our customized presets:

1. Download the preset file for InDesign CS3 or CS2

2. In the InDesign File menu select Adobe PDF Presets > Define

3. Locate and select the job options file that you just downloaded

4. Select Load

The job options file has been installed and is available for use immediately. You are now ready to export print ready PDF files.

Using Our Customized Commercial Printing PDF Presets

1. When you have completed your document, checked all of the links, and set the bleeds to .125" simply go to the File menu and select Export.

File > Export

InDesign Export PDF: Step 1

2. Then, navigate to where you want to save your PDF file (the Desktop in this example) and click Save.

InDesign Export PDF: Step 2

3. In the next dialogue box select General. Here you will select the Commercial Printing Adobe PDF Preset (if you have installed our customized  job options file).

All the correct options have now been been automatically selected for you and your new PDF will be ready for high-quality printing.

Using and Modifying Existing PDF/X-1a:2001 PDF Presets

If you do not use our job options file then you may choose to use the PDF/X-1a:2001 option. This option must be modified to create a PDf with the correct bleed settings. The procedure for modifying the standard job options is as follows:

The first two steps are exactly the same as above.

1. When you have completed your document, checked all of the links, and set the bleeds to .125" simply go to the File menu and select Export.

File > Export

2. Then, navigate to where you want to save your PDF file (the Desktop in this example) and click Save.

3. In the General dialogue box this time you would select the PDF/X-1a:2001 option.

2. Next, select Marks and Bleeds. Here you will select crop marks and change their Offset to .125". Then set the bleed to .125”. If you have already set the document bleed to .125" under Document Setup then selecting Use Document Bleed Settings will fill this in for you.

InDesign Export PDF: Step 4

Tip: Click the chain symbol to make all four sides the same value.

Special Note: The Adobe PDF Preset selection now indicates (modified). This is because you have changed the settings for crops and bleeds. You may save these settings for use in the future by selecting Save Preset. We suggest that you use the same name and just add "with Crops  & Bleed" to make its purpose obvious.
Then click Export to save your PDF file.

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Collecting Your InDesign Job for Printing

You will collect your files for upload using InDesign’s Package  (File > Package) command. In InDesign the Package utility is accessed via the File Menu:

File > Package


InDesign Package document: Step 1

1. The first dialogue box allows you to save any important information or special instructions. Fill out the Printing Instructions as necessary and then select Continue.


InDesign Package document: Step 2

2. Select the following options:

InDesign Package document: Step 3

Special Note: To prevent the document from composing with the external user dictionary, and to prevent the document’s hyphenation exceptions list from merging with the external user dictionary, you should also check the option:

4. Select the New Folder button then name it and place it anywhere you like.

5. Select Save and InDesign will collect copies of all necessary items in the new folder that you have just created.

If you like, you may then compress this folder by using Stuffit, ZIP, or similar compression software prior to uploading your files.

Special Note: To prevent any loss of resource fork data that would render your fonts useless, Macintosh users should always compress their files on a Macintosh.

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Converting Type to Shapes

Sometimes there are problems that crop up with type that can make it difficult or impossible to duplicate the designer's intended appearance. There might be licensing restrictions which prevent the fonts from being copied and distributed or other technical problems. It is then advisable to make a copy of your document and convert the type to shapes in the copy. This will ensure that the type will appear just as you intend. Be very careful to maintain your original editable version because in the copy the text will no longer be editable because it is no longer type.

For each page in the copied file do the following:

1. Menu > Edit > Select All

InDesign Convert Type to Outlines: Step 2

2. Menu > Type > Create Outlines

InDesign Convert Type to Outlines: Step 2

3. Repeat this for each document page.

4. Save file.

After you have repeated this for each document page and saved this copy you will now have two files, one with editable type and a second with no editable type. However, this second document will not require any fonts to print correctly.

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Converting to CMYK Color Space

Use the following menu options to bring up the Swatches palette:

Window > Swatches and Window > Color.

Double click each color in the Swatches palette. Change the Color Type to Process and the Color Mode for each color to CMYK.

Any colors created in the document that are not in the Swatches palette also need to be changed to the CMYK color space. Select each object you want to convert and make sure the Color palette reflects the CMYK percentages. Click top right arrow in the palette to change to CMYK if necessary.

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