Packaging Files to Print in Adobe InDesign

You’ve created your InDesign document, gotten your layout all set, and completed all of your text and graphic input. Now how do you get your files to the printer?

There are two main ways to get your InDesign document ready to send. First, you could package everything up and send the entire package to the printer. This will send not only your layout file but also your fonts, linked graphics, and any other files related to your layout file.

To package your file, go to File > Package and you’ll get a pop up window providing information about the package that will be created. It’s important to review this information and make sure it matches up with your quoted print project. For example, in the review screen below, it says that my file is using 4 process colors and 4 spot inks. This would be an impossible print run, and this reminds me that I need to convert my spot inks to process colors. There is also an alert that 9 of my linked images are using the RGB color space instead of CMYK. This would also need to be converted prior to printing the document.

Once you’ve checked that everything is as it should be, you can click Package and you’ll designate where you’d like to save your package file. Before you send to the printer, you’ll need to convert it to a .zip file so that you can email or upload it to the printer’s FTP site. 


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There is a general belief that because you’re packaging everything together, this option is the better way to provide your print file to the printer. This is not necessarily the case, however.

When a PDF is created, the characters are embedded in the file, eliminating the need for providing the font files to the printer. Similarly, the graphics—photos and illustrations—are not linked but embedded into the file, eliminating the need to send those as well. The PDF format was created to share documents seamlessly between parties, and it works so well that it is the main way that most files are shared nowadays.

To export your file to a PDF, go to File > Export and a pop up window will appear. You’ll have the chance to name your file and then select the format you’d like to export to. Choose Adobe PDF (Print) and then click next. You’ll have another pop up window where you can review your settings


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For most people, one of the Adobe Presets will be just fine for printing. You can use High Quality Print for regular desktop printing, or use Press Quality for sending to the printer. The only other thing you’ll want to be sure to check is the bleed settings. In the menu on the left of this window, go to Marks and Bleeds and you’ll see a new set of specifications.


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You can choose what types of marks (if any) you’d like to include. I like to include crop marks with my PDFs so that I can review and make sure my bleeds are extended past the crop marks. You’ll definitely want to set your bleeds here. One-eighth inch (1/8” or 0.125) on each side is the standard setting for bleeds in all files. Then you can click Export and your file will be ready!

If you have trouble with this process, contact your sales consultant or account manager. They can help connect you with our prepress department, who are experts in file management and can walk you through this process. We’re here to help!