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Packaging InDesign Files

A packaged InDesign file makes it easy to gather all your project’s elements, fonts and images together in one place to prepare it for print. Before packaging your file, you’ll want to go through this checklist to ensure it is ready to be sent to print.

Size

Your project must be the exact size as the final print. If it’s not, the printer will scale your document to size during the prepress process.

Artwork

If you have artwork that goes off the edge of the trim line, you will need to extend the artwork beyond the edge. If you don’t have a cutting tolerance of 0.125″, you will see white slivers of space on the edges of your final piece.

To set up your document correctly:

  • Update your document size to 0.25″ larger than the final size
  • Use the margins as a guide for your final trim size
  • The artwork should bleed off (hang off) the edge of the guides and into the extra space on the document

The example below is a 5″ x 7″ greeting card that will fold to 5″ x 3.5″. The document size is 5.25″ x 7.25″ and the guides are used as a visual to see where the trim will be. Your order will be reviewed during the prepress process, so it will be clear the project size is 5″ x 7″ and there is no need for crop marks.

Tip: If you would like to add crop marks to your final trim size, draw a blank box the exact size of your final piece. Select the box and run the script called CropMarks. You can find it by going to Windows > Utilities > Scripts > Samples > JavaScript > Crop Marks.jsx.

Folds and Trim Lines

Check that your content isn’t too close to any folds or trim lines. If the cutting tolerance isn’t set to at least 0.125″ on the inside of your project, content could get cut off. The same goes for fold lines, as folding also has a variance of 0.125″.

The example below shows content that’s too close to the fold.

Colors

Unless you have spot colors for your document, convert all of the colors to CMYK.

Proof

Check spelling and grammar. A second set of eyes is always helpful, especially if you’re very familiar with the content.

Fonts

If you use any non-standard fonts, it is recommended to convert them to outlines to ensure they stay in place or make sure they’re accessible.

Artboard

If your artboard is cluttered, it is recommended to delete anything outside it that isn’t being used. You’ll also want to delete any unused layers, and if your document uses 15 layers total, to flatten them into one.

Images

For small format printing, 300 DPI is the preferred minimum.

Preflight

Preflight is an important part of the proofing process, catching technical errors like missing images, fonts or overset text. To begin proofing, go to Window > Output > Preflight. You may come across errors like deleted images or images or fonts that are no longer available and need replacing. These things are rare but worth checking. After you address those items, link them with your document and run Preflight again to confirm everything is set up correctly.

Package

Now you can package your project.

  • Go to File > Package
  • Review the summary for a last-minute check.
  • In the saving panel, check the following boxes:

  • Near the Save button, select PDF Preset
  • Choose PDF/X-4
  • Click on Package.

The example below shows what the package folder will look like. It has everything needed for your file to be sent to print: the original file, a PDF, all the fonts and all the image links.

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