Recommended PDF Export Settings for Print within InDesign
But first, control the bleeds!
For the highest quality and fastest production times, this step is critical before exporting your final file.
Part I - Set up your artwork with bleeds
- Go to file-document settings and adjust your bleed to .125".
- The width and height should reflect the final size of the document.
- Then click OK.
Ensure artwork extends to the red line on all sides. The red line represents a .125" bleed.
(If artwork does not extend to the red line, you will likely see thin white lines on the edges of your final product.)
Once complete, you can move onto Part II - Export Settings.
Part II - Export Settings
This is the best method to use for easy access in the future.
Export Preset Explanations
Nonstop Digital Viewing Only Export
Recommended digital only export. Good if you want to send digital files of what you worked on. Lowest file size so it's not designed for print at all. If you want single pages instead of spreads, visit Export a Single Page PDF from Indesign
Nonstop Easy Conservative Color Export
For those that want a more set it and forget it export. You're choosing safety but not maxing out color potential. This can be used for almost all print products except for items like cover files.
Nonstop High Color Awareness Export
For those that want to maximize output and quality. Color matters and it's worth the extra time to dial in color. This can be used for almost all print products except for items like cover files.
Nonstop Spread Export
Use this for all items like cover files for softcover and hardcover books that wrap around other objects.
How to install export presets
- Open Adobe InDesign
- At the top click "File" - "Adobe PDF Presets" - "Define"
- Click on Load and install the three export presets.
Exporting a file from InDesign or Illustrator
- On your keyboard press command (control for PC) + E. Or at the top go to "File" - "Export"
- Choose the location you want to save. For the name put the version number. You'll thank me later. Then click on the drop down and choose "Adobe PDF (Print)"
Great! I've exported the PDF file designed for printing! How do I know I did it right?
PDFs for print are very different than PDFs for viewing digital files. The ideal export preset for digital viewing only is '[smallest file size]". Here's what to expect when sending a file designed for printing:
- it'll be a little bigger. If you used our export settings, .25" wider and .25" taller. That's because we included "bleed" area.
- for books that we are gluing or folding, the edge where the binding spine is, you will get the bleed from the opposite spread. This is OK because we are cutting that portion off anyway. If you want it to make more visual sense, you can make the "inside" bleed 0 if you'd like and it'll make no difference to the final product.
- ONLY if you're making a coil, wire, or screw post book, there is a special setup you need to get the correct bleeds and you'll need to make modifications to your inDesign file. You can check the link below.
Wire-O and Coil Bind Facing Pages Setup
Examples of images that may look weird but are normally OK
Bleed from other spread showing up on other side. OK for perfect bound and folded bindings. Not OK for bindings like wire-o, coil, 3 hole punch.
PDF size .25" bigger that trim size. It's supposed to be. In this example the PDF is sized 8.268x11.693 but the final book size is 8.5x11.93. This is because we trim .125" on all sides to get to the final size.
How to see invisible boxes in Adobe Acrobat
You may wonder how we know where to trim if there are no trim marks. We actually use the invisible boxes that Indesign and Illustrator create to do so. And you can see those boxes too only if you have Adobe Acrobat Pro! Here's how:
- Open Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you have the creative cloud license, it's included.
- Go to the search bar and type in "Output Preview". Then click on the Output Preview tool.
- Click on the checkbox that says "Show art, trim, & bleed boxes".
- Once you exit the window you will see boxes around your artwork. In the example below, the blue box is the "bleed box" (the extra background art you added so you don't get thin white lines) and the green box is the " trim box" (that's where we'll trim the final book).
Export a Single Page PDF from Indesign
When you export, just make sure to save it as a Print PDF. In the general tab, you can either choose pages or spreads. 90% of the time we like PDFs to be in "Pages" format and we'll specifically let you know if we ever need it in spread format.
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