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Preparing InDesign Files for your Print Service

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packaging-indesign-header

Often times when it comes to preparing files for a printer it can get really complicated really fast. Often times when I’m creating a design there are a lot of elements that I use in a file, most of which are images and fonts. It’s so complicated to remember EVERYTHING you put into a file so I discovered this cool trick you can use in InDesign to help package up all of your information for you! That way you don’t have to worry about missing anything. The function is called packaging. Here is how to package a file and what it does exactly.

*Note that this refers to InDesign CS4; CS3 refers to the “Packaging” feature as “Preflight”. Preflight has been expanded upon in CS4.

package-menu

To get the process started go to File > Package. Or if you love the keyboard shortcuts its: Alt + Shift + Ctrl + F (Mac: Option+Shift+Command+P). This will bring up a dialog box that gives you all the information about what is going to be packaged. What packaging does is put all your resources (links, fonts, Pantone colors, as well as a copy of the InDesign file) into one folder for the printer to easily access the files and information quickly. This way you don’t have to worry about a ticked-off printer coming back to you upset that your files weren’t all included with your submitted InDesign file.

package

You can go through the other sections below “Summary” to make sure everything is good to go. These tabs show everything that is going to be packaged into the document. Once you have reviewed this information click “Package”. This will take you to a Printing Instructions window. I always put my information in the document for the printer, one never knows if they may need to contact you. There is also an area for you to write specific instructions for the printer as well. This can come in quite handy if you want to use a special printing technique.

printing-instructions

After clicking “Continue”, a “Package Publication” window will pop up. Here you will choose a location on your computer to save a folder with all the InDesign file information and fonts and files used within the layout. Navigate to where you want the press ready folder saved and click “Package”. This will start the packaging process.

package-folder

Once the computer has finished saving your file, go ahead and navigate to the folder. If you look in the folder you’ll see your file is there with a separate folder for fonts and links.

preflight-folder-items

Can’t get much easier than that! Next time let your computer do all the heavy lifting.

About the Author, Katie Major

I'm a graphic designer with a passion for typography, learning, photography, reading, knitting, and playing music. Check out some of my personal projects here.
Discover More by Katie Major

Discussion

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  • http://twitter.com/MortenFC Morten F Christensen

    I actually thought this post would offer more. This is pretty much Indesign 101. But tricks of the trade are always welcome, and very often you offer advice that's news to most people. Keep it up!

  • Vim82

    I've never really used Indesign, is this software used mainly for printing, or is this tutorial just based on one thing that Indesign can do?

  • barcodeprinter

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  • barcodeprinter

    Skylark Sales Corporation is a leading supplier of Labeling Equipment, Industrial Labels, Printed Labels, Barcode Labels, Food Labels, Security Labels, Packaging Labels, Product Labels, Holograms, Adhesive Tapes etc. In business since 1997, we have the experience necessary to help you with all of your marking and labeling needs.
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  • geoffmay

    InDesign's preflight is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO useful. I remember the days of manually having to collect all the images and fonts. Ugh!

  • geoffmay

    InDesign is a page layout program.

    This is just showing you how to collect all the files for output in InDesign once you're done with the document. Even if you have files and fonts all over the place, it finds them and collects them neatly into a folder (even has subfolders, I believe).

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    Not sure if you are referring to the CS4 Preflight feature, but yeah Preflight in CS4 is quite powerful.

  • http://www.theherne.com Herne

    I find the “package” feature pretty messy. It breaks up font families when only pieces are used, and the “links” folder is pretty generic. It's fine for a quick-and-dirty “grab everything I need” process, but I much prefer to keep all of my fonts and links organized in folders that I create myself.

  • adam

    Good quick tip for anyone using InDesign. I use this almost every day. I also find it useful when doing large layouts (catalogs) since it points out what links have not been converted to CMYK.

  • aragorn78

    Thank you Katie… People like you make this world a better place.
    Pierre

  • jakestevens

    Do people actually send packaged (or “collected output” as they were called way back in the Quark days) to a printer anymore? When I working in pre=press 5 years ago it was like a vestage of a bygone era whenever we got in a collected Quark file.

    I find the package feature more useful for myself when archiving certain projects, or handing them off to another designer outside of my control.

  • http://coghillcartooning.com George Coghill

    At my old production job, it came in handy at times when we needed to resize a customer's ad. But usually everything came in as a PDF. I've rarely run into a situation where I needed to supply a printer with anything more than a press-ready PDF.

    But yeah, perfect for a hand-off situation.

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  • PINNS

    @Jake Stevens, it definitely is a vestage of a bygone era, I've just had an indesign file sent over by some bloke who thinks he's Daddy Fat Sacks and won't let me print from the PDF he's sent for reference… and it's a 2X0 letterhead, lol.

    I did do a google to validate my opinion though so glad I found your comment :)

  • kevin

    I just did this in class. made it really easy. Now for the hard part…..finding someone who can actually print the file. ( student computers aren't hooked up to printers gotta find a company that can print it @_@)

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Vim82

    Hi Sir/Madam

    I am currently out of the office until 4th January, i shall respond
    to any querries as soon as i return.

    Merry Christmas and a happy new year
    Vim

  • Bernie X

    InDesign 101 indeed. But why send a printer an INDD package in the first place? Why not just send a PDF? Ideally, you'd send a package to another designer.

    • http://twitter.com/emyk78 Erin M

      going off of this – you’ll need all graphic links to be included in your indesign packaged file to export a correct pdf? an ad company is trying to tell me that pc’s don’t need link files in the packaged file.

      • Bernie X

        Thanks from rejuvenating the post; over three years and counting! What are you trying to send?–a PDF or an INDD package?

  • Nathan

    Hey since you use Indesign on a regular basis i've designed a cd cover (for a disk) and I'm trying to print it on the disk somehow it keeps telling me to insert paper and it only gives me my disk layout on paper instead of it actually printing on the disk. do you know what I should do?

  • westenicho

    I agree with these two guys up here ^^^ i worked in print production for a few years, sending your entire preflight package to a prepress department can be way more headache that it's worth. a lot of times fonts corrupt and are unusable in workable files anyways. the industry standard has been the PDF workflow for about 8 years now, so preflighting is basically a handy way for designers to compile their work for themselves. prepress has to make a PDF for ripping anyways, so you're essentially just making more work for them.

  • actua

    I actually thought this post would offer more. This is pretty much Indesign 101. But tricks of the trade are always welcome, and very often you offer advice that

  • actua

    I actually thought this post would offer more. This is pretty much Indesign 101. But tricks of the trade are always welcome, and very often you offer advice that

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    Thank you for sharing this very nice set of instructions. This will definitely helped me a lot.

  • Anonymous

    It’s really up to your printer to decide. I work with many printers who want the package so they can make small changes that come up last-minute from the client.

    • Bernie X

      Any sensible printer, such as Jakprints, will contact you in there’s a problem(s) with a PDF file. Of course there’s the $25 fee for them to fix it. Nonetheless, they always give designers a chance to correct and resubmit, which is one of the many reasons they’re my sole printer.

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    thank you.I actually thought this post would offer more. This is pretty much Indesign 101. But tricks of the trade are always welcome, and very often you offer advice that’s news to most people. Keep it up!

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    That is definitely perfect for my project. I’m looking for alternative ways to design using Mac.

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    Very cool and interesting article…

  • geo

    hello i designed a book in indesign then i took all the image from snap shot like copy, paste so i dont have a link for that picture now how can i save it as a package with the picture

  • MammaDuca

    For people who are asking, “Why bother with this? All printers need is a PDF…” Well, we sent a PDF to our printer this week, and later they asked for the native files with all the linked images, etc. Our designer was not available, so this tutorial was very helpful. Thank you!

  • marioza

    Thankyou this actually helped alot! quick and simple as you stated!