Adobe InDesign & PDF

This page documents how various versions of InDesign handle PDF files.  How to import or export PDF is covered nicely in the InDesign on-line help. Below are some tips & tricks that may be useful to know.

InDesign CS4

Make sure you upgrade to at least version 6.04, in which a critical font embedding bug in generating PDF/X files got fixed.

How to create PDF files with InDesign CS4

Stick to the GWG recommendations and you are safe. There are settings available for various printing processes. I usually stick to the SheetSpotHires settings which are valid for sheetfed offset printing of jobs that can contain spot colors.

Placing PDF files in an InDesign CS4 document

As with all other CS versions of InDesign, a PDF that is placed in an InDesign CS4 document is transcoded into a special intermediate format. This transformation is lossless, it won’t affect the quality of image, fonts,… from the placed PDF. The transcoding is done so that InDesign has proper control over color conversions, transparency flattening and other settings when it needs to output pages with placed PDFs. There are however two limitations with this transcoding:

  1. The OutputIntent of a placed PDF/X file gets lost and is replaced by the document’s CMYK working space. If there is a difference between both color spaces, you may see color shifts.
  2. There are issues with some overprinting not being maintained, at least with InDesign 6.04 and earlier. Adobe may fix this in a later release.

Page boxes

PDF files can contain page boxes, definitions that describe the document dimensions, bleed size,… InDesign doesn’t allow you to directly specify these but uses the following rules for both PDF export and PostScript output:

  • The page size equals the TrimBox.
  • The slug area (the slug area dimensions added to the page size) yields the MediaBox and CropBox.
  • The bleed area (the bleed area added to the page size) equals the BleedBox.
  • If you don’t explicitly specify the size of the slug area or failing that, the bleed area, then the CropBox and MediaBox are implied by the page size plus the area required for the specified marks.

InDesign CS3

I have been using InDesign CS3 for quite some time now and have come to appreciate its robustness (it does crash from time to time but has always recovered gracefully) and PDF-support.

How to create PDF files with CS3

Stick to the GWG recommendations and you are safe. There are settings available for various printing processes. I usually stick to the SheetSpotHires settings which are valid for sheetfed offset printing of jobs that can contain spot colors.

9 August 2013

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