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Naomi2464's picture
8 pencils

Creating a PDF InDesign file of images - HELP!


I asked this query quite some time back and it wasn't resolved but hoping today can be the day.

I have many JPGS & PDF images I need to put in an InDesign file and then pdf the doc to be sent out to potential employees. The JPG images, some were originally created in InDesign, Illustrator & Photoshop and then created as jpgs. The images are all about 1MB and look fine when I look at them on the screen - they have also been professionally printed and look great. BUT when I import them into InDesign they are severely pixelated and rasterized. I cannot read the text. I have the setting on "high image display" so it can't be this. I just don't get it. I have some images at 2MB ad still they are pixelated. I have about 12 images in this InDesign file and then it needs to be PDF'd and the final doc can only be about 1-4MB. My work needs to be displayed with supporting text so I cannot use the Photoshop pdf which was suggested a while back in this Forum.

How can this be resolved? Is it the saving of the images as jpgs? Even the pdfs look bad. HELP PLEASE!

Art D. Rector's picture
907 pencils

Well you're throwing a lot of stuff at the wall here, so it's kind of hard to figure out exactly what you're doing. I'll give you some general tips that might help. Let's start with the images themselves - if they look sharp in Photoshop at 100% size (the size % can be found in the lower corner of the document window) - then they should be okay once they are imported into InDesign. Now the caveat there is they will be fine as long as you don't compress them too much when you save the file. JPEG images are compressed according to a sliding scale where 1 is super compressed and 12 is basically no compression. The closer you get to 1 - the more jaggy the image will look. For hi-res printing, you probably want somewhere between 8-10 so you get some compression, but the image loss is not noticeable to the human eye. Okay? An easy way to check that is to save the file, close it and then simply reopen the it again in Photoshop. Does it still look good? Then good - close it without saving it again and you know the images you will be importing are okay by themselves - the problem must be InDesign or the pdf process.

When you import the file into InDesign it should print exactly the way it looked in Photoshop as long as the file is linked to the original photo. I don't use InDesign - I use Quark - but there must be some way in ID to check the photo links. When you import a photo, ID uses the lo-res preview as a placeholder for your photo - that's the rough looking one you see in the document as you work. But when you print, ID calls up the corresponding hi-res photo to print so you get the best quality possible. However, if you move the file from it's original position or accidently trash it - ID will print the low-res placeholder image instead. This is where it SOUNDS like your problem originates - the ID doc is not linking to the actual jpg file so it might be printing the low res preview instead. However - you SHOULD get a warning when you print that the images aren't linked (again - I don't use ID, so I'm not sure but that's how most page layout programs work). Make sure you're linking to the photos you just checked.The link dialogue box should spell out the path directly to wherever you put your photos - something like this - Hard Drive:Project Folder:Photos:JPEG Image 1. If they are linked correctly - that means the problem is most likely at the pdf creation stage.

The last idea that might help would be your settings in whatever program you're using to make the pdf file. A pdf uses jpg compression as well - so it will recompress your images to whatever settings you have in the program creating the pdf. So - again - if the setting is too low, your images will be jagged. If you are printing the pdf straight from ID, there are probably program settings somewhere in the print dialogue box. Dig around in there a little and see if you can find something that determines the resolution of the pdf photos. I see pdfs everyday with lo-res images because the person making the file had web settings enabled which creates 72-dpi images. That would give you the jaggies and text (in the jpegs) that you can't read.

Hope that helps.

KellyR's picture
420 pencils

Are you resizing your images when you drop them into your InDesign document? (Meaning scaling them up in size?) That can really screw up the image's quality if you're resizing them to a scale larger than their original size.

Also, what resolution are your images set at? If they've been pulled from the web and they are 72dpi, that would affect the preview in InDesign because they're low-resolution to begin with. (And then it'll get even worse if you're scaling a 72dpi image that's originally 1"x1" up to 5"x5", for example.)

Art's suggestion to make sure none of your image links are broken is also a good one - although typically, when you first open your InDesign document, if there are broken links, you'll get a warning dialogue that pops up, letting you know you have missing images. Unless you've tweaked your settings to not show that warning when you open new files (I don't think such a tweak exists, though), then it may not be a missing link issue. But to double-check, go to "Window > Links" - if there are any missing links, or images that have been changed since the last time you worked in the InDesign file, you'll see a little icon next to it. A red circle with a white question mark (?) in it indicates a missing link. A yellow triangle with an exclamation (!) in it indicates an image that has been changed but not updated in the InDesign document. Note that I've sometimes experienced modified but not updated image links in InDesign to preview poorly and print poorly.

To tackle the final file size of your PDF file, you'll have to work with it wherever you're comfortable with compressing the images. You can select certain pre-sets when exporting your PDF from InDesign (such as "Smallest File Size"), or you can go into the "Compression" option and tweak the downsampling settings.

This will only do so much, though. If , as an extreme example, you have a 30MB image in your InDesign file, the PDF compression will not be able to create the optimal compression. You'll have to go to that original 30MB image in Photoshop and resize it from there to lower the file-weight. Changing the image's resolution (like if you're on 600dpi for some weird reason, change it down to 200 or 300dpi). Try also changing the dimensions of the image down to something closer or exact to what you're displaying in the InDesign file - so if you have an image that's originally 16" wide, but you're displaying it on an 8.5" wide page, thus scaling it down to fit, then you're wasting a lot of file weight just to preserve the large, 16" image.

I'm not sure what your comment was about the supporting text? My suggestion where text is concerned is to enter the text in InDesign - don't add text as an image - that's just never a good idea in my humble opinion, unless the text is in vector format from Illustrator.

Hope that made sense.

Art D. Rector's picture
907 pencils

Ha-ha - yes - good point. My entire post was based on the idea that you are not resizing the images in InDesign. It's okay to go down in size - but an increase in size will affect the quality adversely (jaggies).

To address what KellyR said, in Quark it IS possible to turn off the linked images warning (so ID probably has the same capability). Some people (myself included at times) turn it off simply because it can be annoying and unnecessary on some jobs. Check to see if your files are linked - if they are not linked and you didn't get a warning - check your preferences and turn it back on for future projects.

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