Learn when to link artwork and when to paste it in your InDesign document.

Decorative graphic with various black, white, red, and gray shapes

When you import a vector or raster graphic in InDesign, you see a screen-resolution version of the file in the layout so that you can view and position it. The actual graphic file may be either linked or embedded.

Linked artwork is connected to, but remains independent of, the document. It’s a good choice when you will place artwork from different sources; for example, .AI, .PSD, .PDF, and .JPEG files from Illustrator, Photoshop, and other apps.

Embedded artwork is copied into the document at full resolution, making the document self-sufficient. Logos and small black and white illustrations are examples of commonly embedded elements in InDesign.


Linked files remain independent of the document. Logos or small black and white illustrations can be embedded.
Linked or embedded artwork

Identify a linked graphic easily

You can use the Links panel to determine if artwork is linked or embedded. To view the Links panel, choose Window > Links. Each linked file is identified by name. Click on a file name and the Link Info panel below will display details such as the scaling applied, resolution, etc.

Tip: You can also tell a linked file at a glance by the link symbol at the top of its frame.

A red shell-shaped object is linked to a document. The Links panel displays information about linked and embedded objects.
Links panel

Why link artwork?

When you place artwork in InDesign, it creates a link between the file and its representation in your InDesign document. If you make a change to the original artwork, the placed art will automatically be updated in your InDesign document.

Because linked graphics are not embedded in the document, your file size can remain relatively small.

Linked objects change within the document when the original artwork is modified.
Link artwork in InDesign

If the original graphics file is moved from its location, renamed or deleted after you placed it, the Links panel will display a Missing icon next to its file name.

Luckily, it’s easy to relink a missing file: Double-click the Missing icon in the Links panel; locate the original file in the dialog box, and click Open. This relinks the placed artwork to the original file.

Tip: Keep copies of your graphic assets in a folder designated for your InDesign project, and draw from this folder as you work.

A red circle with white question mark appears next to a missing linked file.
Missing icon

When to copy and paste art in InDesign?

When you copy and paste artwork from another application, it is embedded in the InDesign document.

If you share this document with another user, they will have full access to the copied artwork when they open the document.

Consequently, the document’s file size will be larger, since it contains complete image data for all the embedded graphics.

Because the artwork is stored in the InDesign document, if the document is deleted, then all its embedded graphics are deleted as well.

Embedded artwork in InDesign file creates a larger file size but allows sharing with other users.
Artwork from another application is embedded in the document

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