PDF Preset

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Are you confident that when you send your file to print you’ve created a print-ready PDF that will print perfectly? At some stage in all of our careers we’ve sent files to our printer and waited with bated breath to find out if we’ve lucked out when we receive the final product.

Reputable printers will always preflight your files and send proofs back. They will report potential issues but believe me there are instances when errors do creep through.

Don’t be fooled, generating a print-ready PDFs is a relatively easy task. If you follow the steps below the last of the preset descriptions you will avoid the possibility of incorrect colour conversions and heavy image compression when you output to PDF.

InDesign PDF output presets

InDesign has built-in capabilities for generating PDFs for multiple output scenarios. These presets range from smallest file size to press quality.

Smallest file size

Perfect for sending files via email but a no-go for sending files to print due to the compression of images (100dpi) and the unwanted colour change with the conversion to sRGB. I use this preset for sending low-res proofs via email.

High quality print

Suitable for output to desktop proofing devices such as the office ink-jet or laser printer. Image quality is high (300dpi) and no colour conversion is performed. This means your images remain CMYK for print output.

Press quality

For a quick and easy prepress output preset this one does the business. Image resolution output is high (300dpi) and files feature “editable transparency” which means printers can “flatten” the file later and to their own specification. Colours remain in CMYK or spot depending on your output requirements.


Designed for hi-res output and PDF/X-1a compliancy. Fonts are embedded, and colour space is CMYK or spot.


Similar to previous, but supports colour management by allowing a profile specification. If you’re working in a mixed RGB/CMYK workflow RGB and LAB colours can be included. Fonts are embedded.


Similar to previous, but supports transparency and is a newer technology that takes advantage of modern prepress processes. Fonts are embedded, and colour spaces include CMYK, RGB, Lab, and spot colors.

What PDF profile do I use?

When it comes to sending files to my printer I use the following settings to create print-ready PDF files. You can’t go wrong with this preset, I have been using it successfully for many years.

When InDesign opens on the splash screen click File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define.

Define PDF print preset

The next step is to create a new profile. Click New.

PDF print preset

Click the Compression settings in the sidebar and enter/select the following options.

Compression settings

Now select Marks and Bleeds and replicate below.

Marks and bleed settings

Moving on to Output change to below.

Output settings

Lastly, hit Advanced and change Transparency Flattener to [High Resolution] and name your preset. Click Ok to save profile.

Advanced settings

When you finish your next print project simply click File > Adobe PDF Presets and export your artwork using this profile.

That’s it, you now have a professional profile for outputting print-ready PDF files. Have fun and show your printer who’s boss!

If you liked this post check out my top 8 tips for setting up InDesign files.

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