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Export to Adobe PDF

  1. InDesign User Guide
  2. Get to know InDesign
    1. Introduction to InDesign
      1. What's New in InDesign
      2. System requirements
      3. Common questions
      4. Use Creative Cloud libraries
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Customize your workspace in InDesign
      3. Toolbox
      4. Set preferences
      5. Properties panel
      6. Touch workspace
      7. Default keyboard shortcuts
      8. Undo edits and manage History panel
      9. Document recovery and undo
    3. Generative AI
      1. Text to Image
      2. Generative Expand
      3. Generative AI FAQ
  3. Create and layout documents
    1. Documents and pages
      1. Create documents
      2. Work with parent pages
      3. Work with document pages
      4. Set page size, margins, and bleed
      5. Work with files and templates
      6. Convert PDFs to InDesign files in InDesign (Beta)
      7. Create book files
      8. Add basic page numbering
      9. Number pages, chapters, and sections
      10. Convert QuarkXPress and PageMaker documents
      11. Share content
      12. Understand a basic managed-file workflow
      13. Save documents
    2. Grids
      1. Grids
      2. Format grids
    3. Layout aids
      1. Rulers
      2. Align and distribute objects using rulers
      3. Measure objects using the Measure tool
  4. Add content
    1. Text
      1. Add text to frames
      2. Threading text
      3. South-East Asian Scripts
      4. Arabic and Hebrew features in InDesign
      5. Create type on a path
      6. Bullets and numbering
      7. Glyphs and special characters
      8. Text composition
      9. Text variables
      10. Generate QR codes
      11. Edit text
      12. Align text
      13. Wrap text around objects
      14. Anchored objects
      15. Linked content
      16. Format paragraphs
      17. Format characters
    2. Typography
      1. Using fonts in InDesign
      2. Kerning and tracking
      3. Scale and skew type
      4. Apply color effects to type
    3. Format text
      1. Format text
      2. Auto Style text
      3. Work with Style Packs
      4. Tabs and indents
    4. Review text
      1. Track and review changes
      2. Add editorial notes in InDesign
      3. Import PDF comments
    5. Spell check and language dictionaries
      1. Check spelling, autocorrect, and dynamic spelling
      2. Create, add, and manage dictionaries and words
      3. Change dictionary preferences
      4. Duden dictionary
    6. Add references
      1. Create a table of contents
      2. Footnotes
      3. Create an index
      4. Endnotes
      5. Captions
    7. Styles
      1. Paragraph and character styles
      2. Map, export, and manage styles
      3. Object styles
      4. Drop caps and nested styles
      5. Work with styles
      6. Leading
    8. Tables
      1. Format tables
      2. Create tables
      3. Table and Cell styles
      4. Select and edit tables
      5. Table strokes and fills
    9. Interactivity
      1. Hyperlinks
      2. Dynamic PDF documents
      4. Buttons
      5. Forms
      6. Animation
      7. Cross-references
      8. Structure PDFs
      9. Page transitions
      10. Movies and sounds
    10. Graphics
      1. Understand paths and shapes
      2. Draw with the Pencil tool
      3. Draw with the Pen tool
      4. Apply line (stroke) settings 
      5. Compound paths and shapes
      6. Edit paths
      7. Clipping paths
      8. Change corner appearance
      9. Frames and objects
      10. Align and distribute objects
      11. Linked and embedded graphics
      12. Integrate AEM assets
    11. Color and transparency
      1. Apply color
      2. Use colors from imported graphics
      3. Work with swatches
      4. Mix inks
      5. Tints
      6. Understand spot and process colors
      7. Blend colors
      8. Gradients
      9. Flatten transparent artwork
      10. Add transparency effects
  5. Find and replace
    1. Find and replace text
    2. Find and replace fonts
    3. Find and replace glyphs
    4. Find and replace using GREP expressions and queries
    5. Find and replace objects
    6. Find and replace colors
    7. Search options to find and replace
  6. Share
    1. Save and access cloud documents
    2. Organize, manage, and share cloud documents
    3. View and manage versions in cloud documents
    4. Common questions about InDesign cloud documents
    5. Share and collaborate        
    6. Share for Review
    7. Review a shared InDesign document
    8. Manage feedback 
  7. Publish
    1. Place, export, and publish
      1. Publish online
      2. Publish online dashboard
      3. Copy, insert graphics
      4. Export content for EPUB
      5. Adobe PDF options
      6. Export content to HTML
      7. Export to Adobe PDF
      8. Export to JPEG format
      9. Export HTML
      10. DPS and AEM Mobile overview
      11. Supported File Formats
      12. Export and import User Settings
    2. Printing
      1. Print booklets
      2. Printer's marks and bleeds
      3. Print documents
      4. Inks, separation, and screen frequency
      5. Overprinting
      6. Create PostScript and EPS files
      7. Preflight files before handoff
      8. Print thumbnails and oversized documents
      9. Prepare PDFs for service providers
      10. Prepare to print separations
  8. Extend InDesign
    1. Automation
      1. Data merge
      2. Plug-ins
      3. Capture extension in InDesign
      4. Scripting
  9. Troubleshooting
    1. Fixed issues
    2. Known issues
    3. Crash on launch
    4. Preference folder read-only issue
    5. Troubleshoot file issues
    6. Unable to export InDesign file to PDF
    7. InDesign document recovery

Learn how to export a document, a book, or selected documents in a book as a single PDF file.

About Adobe PDF

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a universal file format that preserves the fonts, images, and layout of source documents created on a wide range of applications and platforms. Adobe PDF is the standard for the secure, reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents and forms around the world. Adobe PDF files are compact and complete, and can be shared, viewed, and printed by anyone with free Adobe Reader® software.

Adobe PDF is highly effective in print publishing workflows. By saving a composite of your artwork in Adobe PDF, you create a compact, reliable file that you or your service provider can view, edit, organize, and proof. Then, at the appropriate time in the workflow, your service provider can either output the Adobe PDF file directly, or process it using tools from various sources for such post-processing tasks as preflight checks, trapping, imposition, and color separation.

When you save in Adobe PDF, you can choose to create a PDF/X-compliant file. PDF/X (Portable Document Format Exchange) is a subset of Adobe PDF that eliminates many of the color, font, and trapping variables that lead to printing problems. PDF/X may be used wherever PDFs are exchanged as digital masters for print production—whether at the creation or output stage of the workflow, as long as the applications and output devices support PDF/X.

Adobe PDFs can solve the following problems associated with electronic documents:

Common problem

Adobe PDF solution

Recipients can't open files because they don't have the applications used to create the files.

Anyone, anywhere can open a PDF. All you need is the free Adobe Reader software.

Combined paper and electronic archives are difficult to search, take up space, and require the application in which a document was created.

PDFs are compact and fully searchable, and can be accessed at any time using Reader. Links make PDFs easy to navigate.

Documents appear incorrectly on handheld devices.

Tagged PDFs allow text to reflow for display on Mobile Platforms such as Palm OS®, Symbian™, and Pocket PC® devices.

Documents with complex formatting are not accessible to visually impaired readers.

Tagged PDFs contain information on content and structure, which makes them accessible onscreen readers.

Export to PDF for printing

Exporting a document or book to Adobe PDF is as simple as using the default High Quality Print settings, or as customized as you need it to be to suit your task. The PDF export settings you specify are saved with the application, and applies to every new InDesign document or book you export to PDF until you change them again. To quickly apply custom settings to PDF files, you can use presets.

You can export a document, a book, or selected documents in a book as a single PDF file. You can also copy content from your InDesign layout to the Clipboard, and automatically create an Adobe PDF file of that content. (This is useful for pasting a PDF file into another application, such as Adobe Illustrator.)

When you export an InDesign file to PDF, you can preserve navigation elements such as table of contents and index entries, and interactivity features such as hyperlinks, bookmarks, media clips, and buttons. You also have the option of exporting hidden layers, nonprinting layers, and nonprinting objects to PDF. If you’re exporting a book, you can merge identically named layers by using the Book panel.

For information on creating accessible PDF documents, see Adobe InDesign accessibility.

Export an open document to PDF for printing

  1. Choose File > Export.

  2. Specify a name and location for the file.

  3. Select Use InDesign Document Name As The Output Filename, if you want the exported PDF to have the same name as the name of the document from the next export.

  4. For Save As Type (Windows) or Format (Mac OS), choose Adobe PDF (Print), and then click Save.

    When you select the Adobe PDF (Print) option, you cannot include interactive elements in the PDF. To export an interactive document to PDF, see Dynamic PDF documents.

  5. Do one of the following:
    • To use a predefined set of job options, choose a preset from the Adobe PDF Preset menu.
    • To create a PDF/X file, either choose a PDF/X preset from the Adobe PDF Preset menu, or choose a predefined PDF/X format from the Standard menu.
    • To customize options, select a category from the list on the left and then set the options.
  6. For Compatibility, choose the lowest PDF version necessary to open the files you create.
  7. Specify the following Accessibility Options under the Advanced tab, if necessary:

    Display Title

    Choose what to display in the title bar of Acrobat when it opens your PDF. Available options are Document Title and File Name.


    Choose the document language for the PDF. This determines the default language for the exported PDF. If the required language is not in the list, you can also type the standard language ISO code.

  8. Click Export (Windows) or Save (Mac OS).

To reset options to the default, in the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and click Reset. (The Cancel button changes to Reset.)

Prepare layers before exporting a book to PDF

When you export a book to PDF, you can show and hide InDesign layers in the PDF document. To avoid duplication of layer names in the PDF, you can merge the layers on export.

If the Merge Identically Named Layers On Export option is selected, layer names appear under the same book name in Acrobat or Reader. If this option is not selected, layer names appear separately under each document name.

  1. If you don’t want certain layers to be merged, give them unique names in each book document.

    Layer names are case-sensitive, so “Art” and “art” layers are not merged.

  2. In the Book panel menu, select Merge Identically Named Layers On Export.

    When you export the book to PDF, make sure that Create Acrobat Layers is selected. To select this option, you must use Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5) or later compatibility.

Export a book to PDF

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To create a PDF of the entire book, click in a blank area of the Book panel to deselect any selected documents, and choose Export Book To PDF in the Book panel menu.
    • To create a PDF of documents within a book, select the document or documents in the Book panel, and choose Export Selected Documents To PDF in the Book panel menu.
  2. Specify a name and location for the PDF file, and then click Save.
  3. Either choose a preset from the Adobe PDF Preset menu, or select a category from the list on the left of the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, and then customize the options.
  4. Click Export (Windows) or Save (Mac OS).

Reduce the size of PDFs

For PDF files that are intended to be distributed for viewing purposes only, you may want to reduce the size of PDF files when you export from InDesign. Here are some of the size reduction techniques you can use in the Export Adobe PDF dialog box:

  • Choose [Smallest File Size] from the Adobe PDF Preset menu.

  • In the Compression area, downsample images to 72 pixels per inch, select automatic compression, and select either low- or medium-image quality for color and grayscale images. When you work with photographic images, use Automatic (JPEG) compression; when you work with images that are mostly solid color, such as charts and graphs, use ZIP compression.

  • In the Output area, use the Ink Manager to convert spot colors to process colors.


To reduce the size of PDFs, simply open the PDF in Acrobat 8.0 or later, choose Document > Reduce File Size, and then specify the compatibility level. For greater control, choose Advanced > PDF Optimizer.

For more information on reducing the size of PDF files, see Acrobat Help and the Adobe website.

Adobe PDF presets

A PDF preset is a group of settings that affect the process of creating a PDF. These settings are designed to balance file size with quality, depending on how the PDF is used. Most predefined presets are shared across Adobe Creative Suite components, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat. You can also create and share custom presets for your unique output requirements.

A few of the presets listed below are not available until you move them—as needed—from the Extras folder (where they are installed by default) to the Settings folder. Typically, the Extras and Settings folders are found in (Windows Vista and Windows 7) ProgramData\Adobe\AdobePDF, (Windows XP) Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Adobe\Adobe PDF, or (Mac OS) Library/Application Support/Adobe PDF. Some presets are not available in some Creative Suite components.

The custom settings are found in (Windows XP) Documents and Settings/[username]/Application Data/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings, (Windows Vista and Windows 7) Users/[username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings, or (Mac OS) Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings.


Review your PDF settings periodically. The settings do not automatically revert to the default settings. Applications and utilities that create PDFs use the last set of PDF settings defined or selected.

High Quality Print

Creates PDFs for quality printing on desktop printers and proofing devices. This preset uses PDF 1.4, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, leaves color unchanged, and does not flatten transparency (for file types capable of transparency). These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later. In InDesign, this preset also creates tagged PDFs.

Illustrator Default (Illustrator only)

Creates a PDF in which all Illustrator data is preserved. PDFs created with this preset can be reopened in Illustrator without any loss of data.

Oversized Pages (Acrobat only)

Creates PDFs suitable for viewing and printing of engineering drawings larger than 200 x 200 inches. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 7.0 and later.

PDF/A-1b: 2005 (CMYK and RGB) (Acrobat only)

Used for long-term preservation (archival) of electronic documents. PDF/A‑1b uses PDF 1.4 and converts all colors to either CMYK or RGB, depending on which standard you choose. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader versions 5.0 and later.

PDF/X‑1a (2001 and 2003)

PDF/X‑1a requires all fonts to be embedded, the appropriate marks and bleeds to be specified, and color to appear as CMYK, spot colors, or both. Compliant files must contain information describing the printing condition for which they are prepared. PDF files created with PDF/X‑1a compliance can be opened in Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later.

PDF/X‑1a uses PDF 1.3, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, creates untagged PDFs, and flattens transparency using the High Resolution setting.

Note: The PDF/X1‑a:2003 and PDF/X‑3 (2003) presets are placed on your computer during installation but are not available until you move them from the Extras folder to the Settings folder.


This preset creates a PDF based on the ISO standard PDF/X-3:2002. The PDF created in this setting can be opened in Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 or later.

PDF/X‑4 (2008)

This preset creating ISO PDF/X-4:2008 files supports live transparency (transparency is not flattened) and ICC color management. PDF files exported with this preset are in PDF 1.4 format for CS5 and PDF 1.6 format for CS5.5 and later. Images are downsampled and compressed and fonts are embedded in the same manner as with the PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 settings. You can create PDF/X-4:2008 compliant PDF files directly from Creative Suite 4 and 5 components including Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. Acrobat 9 Pro provides facilities to validate and preflight PDF files for PDF/X-4:2008 compliance and convert non-PDF/X files to PDF/X-4:2008 if possible.

Adobe recommends PDF/X-4:2008 as the optimal PDF file format for reliable PDF print publishing workflows.

Press Quality

Creates PDF files for high-quality print production (for example, for digital printing or for separations to an imagesetter or platesetter), but does not create files that are PDF/X-compliant. In this case, the quality of the content is the highest consideration. The objective is to maintain all the information in a PDF file that a commercial printer or print service provider needs to print the document correctly. This set of options uses PDF 1.4, converts colors to CMYK, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, and preserves transparency (for file types capable of transparency).

These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.

Note: Before creating an Adobe PDF file to send to a commercial printer or print service provider, find out what the output resolution and other settings should be, or ask for a .joboptions file with the recommended settings. You might need to customize the Adobe PDF settings for a particular provider and then provide a .joboptions file of your own.

Smallest File Size

Creates PDF files for displaying on the web, an intranet, or for email distribution. This set of options uses compression, downsampling, and a relatively low image resolution. It converts all colors to sRGB and embeds fonts. It also optimizes files for byte serving. For best results, avoid using this preset if you intend to print the PDF file.

These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.

Magazine Ads 2006 (Japan)

This preset creates a PDF based on the creation rules designed by Digital Data Delivery committee.

Standard (Acrobat only)

Creates PDF files to be printed to desktop printers or digital copiers, published on a CD, or sent to a client as a publishing proof. This set of options uses compression and downsampling to keep the file size down, but also embeds subsets of all (allowed) fonts used in the file, converts all colors to sRGB, and prints to a medium resolution. Note that Windows font subsets are not embedded by default. PDF files created with this settings file can be opened in Acrobat 6.0 and Acrobat Reader 6.0 and later.

Customize Adobe PDF presets

Although the default PDF presets are based on best practices, you may discover that your workflow, or perhaps your printer’s workflow, requires specialized PDF settings that aren’t available via any of the built‑in presets. If so, you or your service provider can create custom presets. Adobe PDF presets are saved as .joboptions files.

  1. Choose File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To create a new preset, click New. If you want to base the new preset on an existing preset, select the preset first. Set PDF options, and click OK. (See Adobe PDF presets.)
    • To edit an existing custom preset, select the preset and click Edit. (You cannot edit the default presets.) Set PDF options, and click OK.
    • To delete a preset, select it and click Delete.
    • To save a preset in a location other than the default Settings folder in the Adobe PDF folder, select it and click Save As. Specify a location and click Save.

Alternatively, you can create a custom preset when you save a PDF file by clicking Save Preset at the bottom of the Export Adobe PDF dialog box. Enter a name for the preset and click OK.

Load Adobe PDF presets

New PDF presets (.joboptions files) that you create are stored in the Settings folder in the following locations:

Windows XP

Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Adobe\Adobe PDF

Windows Vista and Windows 7

Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe PDF

Mac OS

User/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF

These presets automatically appear in the Adobe PDF Presets menu.

Supplementary InDesign PDF presets are installed in the system’s Adobe PDF\Extras folder. Use your system search utility to locate additional .joboptions files. You may also receive custom PDF presets from service providers and colleagues. For these presets to be listed in the Adobe PDF Presets menu, they must be moved to the Settings folder either manually or by using the Load command.

Load PDF presets

The Load command is useful if you want to load PDF presets that someone sent you, or to load PDF presets from InDesign CS2.

  1. Choose File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define.
  2. Click Load and select the .joboptions file you want to load.

The .joboptions file is copied to the Settings folder where new PDF presets are stored.


To make a .joboptions file available in the Adobe PDF Presets menu, you can also drag it to the Settings folder where your PDF presets are stored.

Convert PDF presets from InDesign CS

InDesign CS and earlier export PDF presets with .pdfs extensions, while InDesign CS2 and later export PDF presets with .joboptions extensions. Importing a PDFS file converts it to a .joboptions file, and overrides settings as necessary. For example, if Monitor RGB was selected as the destination profile in the Output area in InDesign CS, it is automatically changed to Document RGB in InDesign CS4.

  1. Choose File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define.
  2. Click Load.
  3. Choose Previous-version PDF Settings Files (.pdfs) from the Files Of Type menu (Windows) or All Files from the Enable menu (Macintosh).
  4. Double-click the file you want to convert.

The file becomes selected in the list of Adobe PDF presets.

Background Tasks panel

With the ability to export PDF files in the background, you can continue working on your document instead of waiting until InDesign is done exporting. You can also queue up multiple PDF exports in the background. Use the Background Tasks panel to view the progress of the export processes.

  1. Export one or more documents to Adobe PDF.

  2. To view the progress, choose Window > Utilities > Background Tasks.


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