Printing from Indesign

From TOI-Pedia


If you want to print an Indesign file, you want to export it to a pdf first. This process as well as problems you can encounter during it will be explained here.

This tutorial will result in a pdf where the pages are in order – for booklet printing, another process is needed, explained in this tutorial.

Export vs. print

Dialogue for printing as pdf

There are two ways to make a pdf from an Indesign file: via export or via print (both found in the File menu). When wanting to print the file from your own computer, there is not a big difference in the two methods. When printing from other computers, exporting includes options that can be of advantage.

Printing includes mostly the same options as exporting. It always flattens a pdf (layers, transparency). Printing can be handy for changing the page size. For example, aligning your document pages on a standard page size if they have a non-standard size.

Dialogue for exporting pdf(print)

This cannot be done during export. However, exporting has several adobe print presets as well as pdf compatibility which can be handy for printing elsewhere. The page size in the pdf will be the page size of the document pages. Furthermore, security for the file can be chosen, like setting a password.

So, if the page size or alignment does not have to be changed, export is the preferred method.

Exporting Package

Exporting package

In order to work with the same Indesign file on a different computer, copying the Indesign file alone would not work as the file has many linked graphics and fonts.

The File » Package command ensures that all linked graphics and fonts are included with your Indesign file. It also creates a customized report that includes all the information required to print the document.

Click Package and from the dialog box that appears, tick boxes to include fonts, linked graphics, and document settings. A folder will be created with your Indesign document, image links and fonts. Copy the folder for using the same file in other systems.

Interactive vs. print

Two pdf options during Export

In CS5, two separate options for exporting to a pdf have been introduced: pdf (print) and pdf (interactive).

Print leaves pages separate and enables detailed quality settings. Of course you want this option if you want to print the document.

Interactive is meant for on-screen presentation. It lowers the quality to 72dpi and combines page spreads. It is possible to set the page presentation the document will have in the adobe reader, like full view etc. This is handy for presentations (with media content) or when sending a portfolio digitally.


Here are some problems frequently encountered when printing and their solutions.

Pdf export/print does not work

The options of the Link panel

Problem: The export stops or Indesign crashes.

Cause: This is probably due to files in the document being too big, like pdf, psd, ai.

Go to Windows>Links to see all the pictures used. Here you can check the file type.


1. Convert to jpg.

Do not use pdfs, psd, ai files of floor plans, facades etc. When importing these pictures during export, they make the export crash. Instead, convert them to jpg.
To have control over the quality, it is best to open a pdf in Photoshop, then save as jpg.
When opening a pdf, it is possible to set the dimensions and resolution. 300dpi should be enough. Also, check the width and height of the resulting image and decrease this if it is too big – Indesign would still crash.

2. Relink in Indesign.

In order to not manually re-place and reposition the pictures, go to the Links again. Select an image you want to replace and go the options and select Relink. Now you can select the jpg version of the image and it will be replaced.

Blurry pictures

Relinking a missing file

Problem: Pictures seem blurry on screen, but are fine when printing.

Cause: The display mode is low.

Solution: Go to Windows>Display Mode>High Quality Display. The display mode is meant to make navigating the document smoother when there are a lot of images.

Problem: Pictures are blurry on screen and print blurry.

Cause: A) Images too small. B) Missing links.

Solution: A) Check the size and resolution of the images used. You can do this by checking the image file’s properties in your File Manager or by opening them in Photoshop. A resolution of 72dpi for example is screen resolution and too low for print (you want at least 150dpi). If the image is too small, the best thing is to acquire a bigger original version.

B) Check if your images are properly linked in the Links panel. A question mark in a red circle signals that the link to the original file is missing. In that case, you need to relink the files. If you do not know what links are and how they work, read this paragraph.

Personal tools