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Preparing InDesign for Printing Files with Graphics

by Ron Kurtus (31 October 2015)

When you are designing a project with Adobe InDesign that is intended for print and has many graphics and illustrations, you need to make sure your InDesign file will print well.

First, you should use graphics files that are acceptable to the printer. Also, it is best to store the graphics files externally, so your InDesign file will not be too large. Finally, you should perform image transformations externally.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Graphics file formats to use

You will get the best print output from an InDesign document if you use native Photoshop (PSD) and Illustrator (AI) graphics files rather than converting them to EPS or TIFF files.

If you intend to print the document at a service bureau, ask them which graphic formats work best with the output device they use. The service bureau can also advise you on the optimal resolution for images for their system.

Store graphics files externally

If you are going to have many graphics files in your InDesign project, it is best to store the graphics externally. Otherwise, the size of the document can become quite large, reducing the performance of InDesign.

When you import a graphic file, InDesign creates a link to the graphic by default. However, when you print the document, the original graphic file must be available and linked for the document to print properly with a high resolution output.

Transform graphics outside InDesign

If you are going to transform a graphic in an InDesign project that is heavy in graphics—such as skewing, resizing or rotating—it is best to perform that transformation before placing them in InDesign. You can use Fireworks or Photoshop to perform the transformation.

The reason for this is that when you transform a graphic in InDesign and then try to print it, InDesign sends the graphic to the printer in its untransformed state and then appends the transformation instructions to it. This process may cause longer print times and require more printer memory to perform the transformation.


If you have many illustrations and graphics, you want to make sure your Adobe InDesign file will print well. You should use graphics files that are acceptable to the printer, store the graphics files externally and perform image transformations externally. These actions will assure you get better quality performance and printing.

Plan ahead

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