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Whether you are providing a multicolored document to an outside service provider, or just sending a quick draft of a document to an inkjet or laser printer, knowing a few basics about printing will make the print job go more smoothly, and help to ensure that the finished document appears as intended.
Types of printing
When you print a file, Adobe InDesign sends it to a printing device—either to be printed directly on paper or to a digital printing press, or to be converted to a positive or negative image on film. In the latter case, the film can then be used to create a parent plate for printing by a commercial press.
Types of images
The simplest types of images, such as text, use only one color in one level of gray. A more complex image is one with color tones that vary within the image. This type of image is known as a continuous-tone image. A photograph is an example of a continuous-tone image.
To create the illusion of continuous tone, images are broken down into a series of dots. This process is called halftoning. Varying the sizes and densities of the dots in a halftone screen creates the optical illusion of variations of gray or continuous color in the printed image.
Artwork that will be commercially reproduced and that contains more than a single color must be printed on separate parent plates, one for each color. This process is called color separation.
The detail in a printed image results from a combination of resolution and screen frequency. The higher an output device’s resolution, the finer (higher) the screen frequency you can use.
Printer-specific features such as duplex printing are available when you click the Printer button in the Print dialog box. Duplex printing is available only if the printer supports it. For information on duplex printing, see your printer documentation.
If the artwork contains objects with transparency features that you added using the Effects panel or the Drop Shadow or Feather commands, the transparent artwork will be flattened according to settings in the flattener preset you choose. You can affect the ratio of rasterized images to vector images in the printed artwork.
If you have individual documents open, choose File > Print. This opens the Print dialog box for the current document.
If you have either no documents or all documents selected in the Book panel, choose Print Book in the Book panel menu. This will print all documents in a book.
If you have some documents selected in the Book panel, choose Print Selected Documents in the Book panel menu.
The Page Range option is unavailable if you’re printing a book.
If you’re printing a document with multiple page sizes, use the controls above the Range to select a range with all pages of the same size. See Printing documents with multiple page sizes.
Settings you specify in the Print dialog box are saved with the document.
You can also use the print options available in the Pages panel.
In the Page panel, make any one of the following selections:
Right-click on the selection and choose Print Page or Print Spread (depending on your selection).
Or choose the Print Page or Print Spread from the Pages panel flyout menu.
The Print dialog displays with the selected page or range displayed in the Print dialog.
You can print all pages, even or odd pages only, a series of individual pages, or a contiguous range.
Specifies the range of pages to print in the current document. Indicate numbers in a range by using a hyphen, and indicate multiple pages or ranges by using commas or spaces. (See Specifying pages to print.)
If the document includes pages with different page sizes, you can use the options above the Range field to select all pages of the same size. (See Printing documents with multiple page sizes.)
Print the current page in the current document.
The page number for the current page is specified in the following format: Current Page: <Layout Name>:<name of the page>
Choose All Pages to print all pages of a document. Choose Even Pages Only or Odd Pages Only to print only those pages within the specified range. These options are unavailable when you are using the Spreads or Print Parent Pages options.
Prints pages together, as if they were bound, or printed on the same sheet. You can print only one spread per sheet. If the new page is larger than the currently selected paper size, InDesign prints as much as it can, but won’t automatically scale the page to fit the imageable area, unless you select Scale To Fit in the Setup area of the Print dialog box. You may also want to specify landscape orientation.
If different trapping styles are applied to pages in the spread, InDesign resolves the differences.
Print Parent Pages
Prints all parent pages, rather than document pages. Selecting this option makes the Ranges option unavailable.
Examples of page ranges
Page 11 to the last page of the document.
All pages up to and including page 11.
Page 11 only.
All pages up to and including page 11.
All pages from the eleventh page to the end of document.
Page 1, plus pages 3 to 8.
Page 1, plus pages 3 to 8.
All pages in section labeled “Sec1”.
Page numbered 7 (not necessarily the seventh page of that section) in section labeled “Sec2.”
Page numbered 7 in section labeled “PartB” to last page of section.
Page 7 in section labeled “Chap2” to end of section labeled “Chap3”.
Pages 3–6 in “Sec4” and page 7 in “Sec3”.
The General area of the Print dialog box contains options for printing elements usually visible only on-screen, such as grids and guides. Choose from the following options:
Determine which layers are printed. (See Choose which layers are printed or exported to PDF.)
Print Non-printing Objects
Prints all objects, regardless of your settings to selectively prevent individual objects from printing.
Print Blank Pages
Prints all pages in the specified page range, even if no text or objects appear on a page. This option is unavailable when you are printing separations. If you are using Print Booklet for composite printing, use the Print Blank Printer Spreads option to print blank spreads added to fill out composite signatures.
Print Visible Guides and Baseline Grids
Prints visible guides and grids in the same color as shown in the document. You can control which guides and grids are visible in the View menu. This option is unavailable when you are printing separations.
You may want to print pages that have different sizes separately. An option in the Print dialog box makes it easy to specify a range that selects all the pages of the same size in the document.
Before you submit a document with multiple page sizes for printing, ask the print provider about special requirements. If you have difficulties printing a document with multiple page sizes, consider dividing it into separate documents.
Choose File > Print.
In the General panel, select or deselect Spreads to determine whether pages or spreads are printed.
If a spread includes pages of different sizes, the largest width and height on the spread determines the spread size.
To print only pages of the same size, use the options above the Range field to select one of the pages or spreads, and then click the pages icon .
The Range field displays all the pages or spreads of that size.
After printing a range of one page size, repeat the steps to print other page sizes.
You can specify a page range using either absolute numbering (the page’s position in the current document) or page/section numbering (the section and page numbers assigned to the page). By default, dialog boxes in InDesign honor the format specified for Page Numbering in the Preferences dialog box.
When Absolute Numbering is selected, numbers you specify for pages or page ranges correspond to the absolute position of pages in your document. For example, to print the third page in the document, you would enter “3” for Range in the Print dialog box.
When Section Numbering is selected in the Preferences dialog box, you can enter pages and page ranges exactly as they appear in your layout or using absolute numbering. For example, if the page labeled SecA:5 is the fifteenth page in your document, you could print it by entering “SecA:5” in the Print dialog box or by entering “+15”. The “+” sign indicates that you want to override the normal section and page numbering to use absolute page numbering.
If you are unsure which format to use when entering page numbers in the Print dialog box, imitate the format used in the page box at the bottom of the document window.
It’s important to distinguish between page size (as defined in the Document Setup dialog box for your document) and paper size (the sheet of paper, piece of film, or area of the printing plate you’ll print on). Your page size might be US Letter (8.5-by-11 inches), but you might need to print on a larger piece of paper or film to accommodate any printer’s marks or the bleed and slug areas.
The list of paper sizes available to InDesign comes from the PPD (PostScript printers) or from the printer driver (non-PostScript printers). If the printer and PPD you’ve chosen for PostScript printing support custom paper sizes, you’ll see a Custom option in the Paper Size menu.
Most imagesetters can accommodate regular paper sizes, such as letter and tabloid, as well as transverse orientation, where the regular page size is rotated 90° when printed. The transverse orientation is often a more efficient use of imagesetter media.
A. Letter (tall orientation) B. Custom page size (tall orientation) C. Letter (transverse orientation)
Paper sizes are listed by familiar names (such as Letter). The dimensions define the limits of the imageable area—the total paper size, less any unprintable border used by the printer or imagesetter. Most laser printers cannot print to the exact edge of a page.
If you select a different paper size (for example, if you change from Letter to Legal), the document is rescaled in the preview window. The preview window displays the entire imageable area of the selected page; when the preview size is changed, the preview window automatically rescales to include the imageable area.
The imageable area will vary by PPD file, even for the same paper size (for example, Letter), because different printers and imagesetters define the sizes of their imageable areas differently.
The preview in the lower-left area of the Print dialog box indicates whether you have enough space to include all printer’s marks and the bleed and slug areas.
Make sure that your paper size is large enough to contain your document, the bleed and slug areas (if included), and any printer’s marks. To conserve imagesetter film or paper, however, select the smallest paper size that will accommodate your document and the necessary printing information.
In most cases, the page orientation specified in Document Setup (File > Document Setup) and the output orientation specified in the Setup area of the Print dialog box should be the same (both portrait or both landscape), whether you print normal or transverse. If you’re printing spreads, you may want to choose a different paper size and orientation (such as landscape) to fit all pages of a spread on a single sheet. If you’ve rotated the spread view, you may want to change the orientation to print the spread properly.
A. Portrait B. Landscape C. Reverse Portrait D. Reverse Landscape
If you’re using a printer that accommodates various paper sizes, such as a high-resolution imagesetter, you can specify a custom paper size when you print. InDesign makes the custom option available only if the selected PPD supports custom paper sizes.
The largest custom paper size you can specify depends on the maximum imageable area of your imagesetter. For more information, consult the documentation for your specific printer.
Custom paper size options for non-PostScript printers is not accessible from the InDesign Print dialog box. To set those printer-specific features, click Setup (Windows), Printer (Mac OS), or Page Setup (Mac OS) in the InDesign Print dialog box. Check the documentation for your non-PostScript printer driver for details.
If Custom is not available, the PPD you selected when you set up your printer does not support custom paper sizes.
To let InDesign determine the smallest paper size needed for your document’s contents, bleed and/or slug areas, and any printer’s marks, select Auto for Width and Height. Auto, the default option, is also useful if you have different sized pages in a book and you’re printing on continuous media, such as a roll of film or photosensitive paper.
To specify a paper size larger than the default, enter new dimensions in the Width and Height text boxes. Be sure to increase the values; decreasing the default values may clip your document.
The Offset value specifies the amount of space along the left side of the imageable area. For example, entering a value of 30 points in the Offset option shifts your page 30 points to the right.
You can conserve a considerable amount of film or paper by using Transverse in conjunction with Offset. Compare the following examples of an image printed by InDesign with Transverse selected and deselected.
A. Offset value B. Gap C. Film saved
Choose File > Print, and click General on the left side of the Print dialog box.
Choose File > Export, specify Adobe PDF, and then click Save. On the left side of the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, select General.
Prints or outputs all layers in your document, even if they are hidden or set as nonprinting.
Prints or outputs all visible layers, even if they are set as nonprinting in Layer Options.
Visible & Printable Layers
Prints or outputs only those layers that are set as both visible and printable.
You can print a document on a non-PostScript language printer. However, because PostScript is the standard page-description language for professional publishing, many high-end color and graphics features, such as screen frequencies or color separations, cannot be reproduced on non-PostScript printers. Most imported graphics file formats print acceptably. In general, a document printed to a non-PostScript printer should look the way it appears on-screen when you view the document using Preview Mode.
Some vendors sell software programs that add PostScript-language capability to a non-PostScript language printer. Check with your software reseller for availability and compatibility.
When you print to a non-PostScript printer, you can choose to rasterize all artwork during printing. This option is useful when printing documents that contain complex objects (such as objects with smooth shading or gradients) because it reduces the possibility of errors.
This option is available only if the printer driver identifies the printer as non-PostScript. If this option is selected for non-PostScript printers in Mac OS 10.3 or later, InDesign prints PostScript, which is then used by Mac OS and the driver to render the page images. In Windows, the high-end color and graphics features may not be converted appropriately if this option is not selected.
The output resolution may be limited by the printer driver’s resolution. To get the best quality output, set the non-PostScript printer driver resolution to be equal or greater than the output resolution specified in the InDesign Print dialog box.
You can view how the document’s pages fit on the chosen paper size before you print to a PostScript printer. A preview in the lower-left area of the Print dialog box shows whether your paper and orientation settings will work for your page size. When you select different options in the Print dialog box, the preview updates dynamically with the combined effects of your print settings.
The preview has three views:
Displays the relationship of a document page to the media. It shows the effects of various options such as paper size to imageable area, bleed and slug areas, and page marks, as well as the effects of tiling and thumbnails.
A. Default B. Spreads C. Orientation D. 2-by-2 Thumbnails
Lists the numerical values for certain print settings.
Custom page/Cut sheet views
Displays the effects of different print settings, depending on your page size. For custom page sizes, the preview shows how the media fits on the custom output device; the maximum supported media dimensions of the output device; and the settings for offset, gap, and transverse. For cut sheets, such as Letter and Tabloid, the preview shows the relationship of the imageable area to the media size.
In both the custom page and cut sheet views, the preview also indicates the output mode using an icon: Separations , Composite Grayscale , Composite CMYK , or Composite RGB .
A. Direction of media travel B. Transverse deselected C. Paper size D. Media E. Imageable area F. Media
InDesign supports printing to both PostScript® (Level 2 and 3) and non-PostScript language printers, using most current printer drivers. When you print to a PostScript printer, InDesign uses information from a PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file to determine which settings to display in the Print dialog box.
Follow these basic steps when setting up a printer:
Install the latest printer driver for your output device. See your operating system documentation for instructions.
For PostScript printing, select a PPD file when you set up your printer.
A printer driver lets you directly access printer features from applications on your computer. Having the correct driver ensures that you have access to all of the features a particular printer supports.
Adobe recommends upgrading to the latest driver for your operating system.
Printer drivers may support features that are not included in InDesign, such as duplex printing. Support for these features varies depending on the printer driver you have. Check with your printer manufacturer for details.
If you want to specify settings for a specific printer, InDesign provides access to the printer driver through the following buttons in the InDesign Print dialog box. (When you choose to print to a PostScript file, these options are not available.)
(Windows) This button opens the Windows Print dialog box.
(Mac OS) This button displays the standard Mac OS Page Setup dialog box.
(Mac OS) This button displays the standard Mac OS Print dialog box.
Some InDesign printing features appear in both the printer driver dialog boxes and the InDesign Print dialog box. For best results, specify the settings in the InDesign Print dialog box only. If settings overlap, InDesign tries to synchronize the settings, or to ignore the driver’s settings. Some printer driver features (for example, N‑up printing, which prints the same artwork multiple times on the same page) produce adverse printing results when used with InDesign features such as separations.
A PPD file (PostScript Printer Description file) customizes the behavior of the driver for your specific PostScript printer. It contains information about the output device, including printer-resident fonts, available media sizes and orientation, optimized screen frequencies, screen angles, resolution, and color output capabilities. It’s important to set up the correct PPD before you print. Selecting the PPD that corresponds to your PostScript printer or imagesetter populates the Print dialog box with the available settings for the output device. You can switch to a different one to suit your needs. Applications use the information in the PPD file to determine which PostScript information to send to the printer when printing a document.
For best printing results, Adobe recommends that you obtain the latest version of the PPD file for your output device from the manufacturer. Many print service providers and commercial printers have PPDs for the imagesetters they use. Be sure to store PPDs in the location specified by the operating system. For details, consult the documentation for your operating system.
In Windows and in Mac OS, you select a PPD file in the same way you add a printer. The steps for selecting a PPD file are different for each platform. See your operating system documentation for details.
If you regularly output to different printers or job types, you can automate print jobs by saving all output settings as print presets. Using print presets is a fast, reliable way to print jobs that require consistently accurate settings for many options in the Print dialog box.
You can save and load print presets, making it easy to back them up or to make them available to your service providers, clients, or others in your workgroup.
You can create and review print presets in the Print Presets dialog box.
Choose File > Print, adjust print settings, and click Save Preset. Type a name or use the default, and then click OK. With this method, the preset is saved in the preferences file.
Choose File > Print Presets > Define, and then click New. In the dialog box that appears, type a new name or use the default, adjust print settings, and then click OK to return to the Print Presets dialog box. Then click OK again.
In InDesign, you can also print using a print preset by choosing one from the File > Print Presets menu.
Choose File > Print, adjust print settings, and click Save Preset. In the Save Preset dialog box that appears, either type a name in the text box or use the current name. (If the current name is an existing preset, saving overwrites that preset’s settings.) Click OK.
Choose File > Print Presets > Define, select a preset from the list, and then click Edit. Adjust print settings, and click OK to return to the Print Presets dialog box. Then click OK again.
You can edit the default preset as you would any other using the steps outlined above.