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Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Getting good quality images with InDesign.

I originally sent a PDF to a printer/publisher for a book in PageMaker. I had made sure the images were 300 dpi (were .tif). I had grayscaled the images in Corel Photopaint. The book came back with the images lighter than we had hoped. I was advised that my pictures weren't 300 dpi, but I doublechecked and they were, and in most cases I hadn't increased their size. A tech person then said he would help me. He "enhanced" the pictures by importing the book into InDesign and "tweaking" them with Photoshop. Unfortunately, he moved them and I had to buy InDesign to put them back where they belonged. I then made a PDF by exporting directly from InDesign but when we ordered more books and found the quality was even worse, I am questioning whether I did something wrong. I also used Adobe Acrobat Prof. 7 and Reader 7. I don't understand flattening the images. I do not have Photoshop or Illustrator or Microsoft Publisher. I had scanned with Microsoft Picture It. Do I need to rescan my images (pictures) and do a higher dpi? (I have about 75 pictures) Do I need to get another program to flatten them? Or could it be the way I sent my PDF? I recontacted the fellow that "enhanced" the images and he emailed back that he is very poorly and can't help me. I had paid him quite well too. So I need HELP. Thanks to anyone who can advise me.

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Hey, if you want to post a link to your PDF, by using www.yousendit.com

I will take a look.

There is contact information on my blog, if you want to send me the images, indesign file and fonts, I will have a look at that for you too.

It's hard to know until the files are seen.

Even screen shots might help



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...the thing with pdf files is that images can end up compressed to a lower resolution depending on pdf settings upon export/pdf creation...

...also if your images aren't a true greyscale (maybe RGB grey or CMYK grey) it is possible that the print provider only output the black separation, this results in data loss, and likely a lighter image...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

When I make a PDF for a service provider, I use ZIP compression for images, and my images are 300-600 dpi (depending on the provider and the product).

The PDF files sometimes come out large, but it's worth it, because it's exactly the way I want it to look.

It sounds as if you might have produced a JPG compressed PDF, and the printer compounded the matter by not providing you with a proof.  Did they offer you a proof?

monkey Edward monkey

"Cut a hole in the door.  Hang a flap.  Criminy, why didn't I think of this earlier?!" -- inventor of the cat door

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

I have the files here. It just looks like the images need to be touched up. I'm working on it at the moment and with the original poster.

Good points so far, although, why use compression for images at all? Leave the images uncompressed, that way you lose no image quality.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

"why use compression for images at all? Leave the images uncompressed, that way you lose no image quality."

ZIP compression is not lossy.

Makes the PDF file a little smaller, especially if your images are, say, screenshots and other images with lots of large one-color areas.  For me, that might be small enough to fit on a CD-ROM.

For emailing, one probably compresses using JPG to make the PDF emailable without anoying the recipient.

monkey Edward monkey

"Cut a hole in the door.  Hang a flap.  Criminy, why didn't I think of this earlier?!" -- inventor of the cat door

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...yes, there are indeed multiple reasons to use compressed pdf files...

...it all depends on final intentions, typically anything we do at work in house are RAW pdf files, simply because we have enormous amounts of storage space...

...also all imposed pdf files created by prinect workflow are RAW, with todays processing capabilities RIPs can churn through massive amounts of data at crazy speeds too...

...once APPE is fully supported by Heidelberg transparency will also become a lot less hassle than has been, with quicker render times too...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...i still think adobe need to work (if they'll ever be a fix) on how acrobat renders flattened 1.3 pdf spot colors, i get tired of explaining overprint preview to clients at times...

...but this is usually when quark is involved...

...in fact quark is a bigger pain really...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Andrew, have you tried Acrobat 9. That overprint preview isn't a problem anymore.

Ed I know what you're saying but I thought I'd add to it.

Zip compression in 4 bit reduces quality. From acrobat 4 onwards it uses 8 bit compression, which is fine.

It's important that people don't use zip compression if they create a PDF for acrobat 3, they could inadvertently use the 4 bit compression.

The 8 bit compression for zip is better than LZW though, well not better, but smarter.

Also, if you're processing a PDF that has zipped algorithm images through a RIP or other process it can lead to longer RIP and processing time, because it has to expand all that algorithm.

It also takes longer to create the pdf, as it's compressing the images using the zip algorithm.

For a document that's heavy in images or large images, then it can prove a lengthy PDFing and RIPing process.

For those that are unsure about the compressions there's some stuff here.



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...no, not looked into acrobat 9, trouble is we need pitstop to run in acrobat pro, i think that is only good with 8 at the moment, not only that, but most of our clients are still running acrobat 6 pretty much, some don't even know the difference between reader and professional either...

...some don't even use adobe acrobat viewers...

...i think adobe only have reader 8 out at the moment too, 9 appears to be a purchase only at present as far as I've seen...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...no, sorry, correction, just looked and reader 9 is available for mac/windows, which means explaining to people to download it...

...assuming they have an OS that can run it...

...blimey, so many hoops we have to jumo through eh?!!!...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Wow, what response! Guess I started all this discussion. Yes, Edward, we did get a proof (actually a book we paid for wholesale). That is how we knew the pictures weren't good. I read all your responses, but I am not very tech savvy, so I took Eugene up on his offer to check over my content and help me out. Thanks to you all, and especially to Eugene. Cheers. Arlene  

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Eugene writes "Zip compression in 4 bit reduces quality. From acrobat 4 onwards it uses 8 bit compression, which is fine."

Jinkies!  Good to know.  Thanks!

"For a document that's heavy in images or large images, then it can prove a lengthy PDFing and RIPing process."

Yes indeed.  I warn 'em every time and they blow me off.  Then, fifteen minutes later, they start realizing that I was serious...  8)

monkey Edward monkey

"Cut a hole in the door.  Hang a flap.  Criminy, why didn't I think of this earlier?!" -- inventor of the cat door

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

I would like to thank all who answered my questions, and especially Eugene. I purchased InDesign and downloaded GIMP and the pictures improved some. We have had some delays due to changes the author made, but now we are ready to send in the final copy. I wanted to doublecheck and see if I am doing the PDF correctly from InDesign. I do the File -- Export -- then when I get into the Export Adobe PDF I mark the Adobe PDF Preset as [High Quality Print]. There is also three that begin with [PDF/x ...]; [Press Quality], and [Smallest File Size]. Is High Quality Print the best one to check? Also [Optimize for Fast Web View]; [Create tagged PDF], and [View PDF after Exporting] were already checked so I just left them checked. Then in Export Layers it has a box with [Visible and Printable Layers], which I didn't disturb. Then over to the left it says [Save Preset], and to the right it says [Export]. So I clicked on Export, and then got my PDF, which looks really good. Did I do it right for the best quality PDF? I would really appreciate a quick answer. Thank you. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...for sending to an unknown print provider, your best to use PDF/X-1a:2001, in this form any RGB imported graphics are converted to the destination CMYK profile during export (the destination CMYK profile is either defined by your color settings or you pick one from the drop down menu), it also flattens any transparency used in the document as it uses Acrobat 4 (1.3) format...

...any version higher than Acrobat 4 (1.3) preserves transparency in the PDF, with these types of PDF files the print provider will need a RIP that can handle transparent PDF files or they may have to flatten it themselves before RIP stage...

...depending on how complex the artwork is, flattening later in the workflow can raise issues, particularly if spot colors interact with transparency and need to be converted to CMYK, and also if vector elements sit below transparent areas that would otherwise be better off on a layer above or in front...

...the other area to watch for is the marks and bleed options, typically you will need to turn on crop marks and page information then change the bleed values to 3mm.  If you however don't have graphics extending the page trim size then you will need to allow for this on the artwork...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

If I remember correctly this is all black and white right?


Press Quality

PDF x1a 2003

On Output
No Colour Conversion
Destination (should be grayed out)

On marks and bleed

Choose Crop Marks and Page Information


3mm for each box.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...one area to be careful of is when compressing greyscale graphics to 300dpi, this can be a problem if an artworker places a very high resolution greyscale file intending it to print to a bitmap resolution of 1200dpi or higher...

...this often occurs with logos positioned in greyscale and then compressed on PDF output to 300dpi, the image doesn't print as sharp as it would have done in it's native resolution...

...so i typically turn greyscale compression off, and also bitmap resolution too, compressing only the color images...

...another area to watch for is spot colors that interact with transparency in PDF 1.3 which ultimately end up converted to CMYK, in certain situations the spot color ends up white and doesn't print...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Andrew, I believe it's a black and white job.

So that's why I gave those instructions.

True about the grayscale too, but it really only applies to line art, where these are all scanned photographs.

So I imagine all the photographs were scanned to 300 dpi anyway. And it will be printed at 150 lpi so a res of 225dpi is only really necessary.

You won't see a big difference with 1200 dpi b/w photos than on 300 dpi, and you could go as low as 225 without seeing much difference.

Even if the lpi is 175 for the printers then a res of 266 dpi would suffice.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

 Yes, the book interior is black and white. I changed the ADOBE PDF PRESET from High Quality Print to Press Quality. Then it changes the Press Quality to [Press Quality] (modified). I added to the STANDARD: PDF/X-1a:2003, as you said. But when I change to No Color Conversion, the STANDARD under ADOBE PDF PRESET changes from PDF/X-1a:2003 to None. Then I looked at COMPRESSION in the next screen and it says Automatic (Jpeg). My photos are Tiff. In MARKS & BLEED I did as you said and chose - Crop Marks and Page Information – when I looked at completed PDF it had the file name, time I did it, etc. showing on each page, which I definitely don't want in the book, so should I just leave the marks blank? And the BLEED: you said to make it 3 mm for each box. It is in inches and I don't know how to change it to mm. Even so, I don't need a bleed on the inside pages, so why do I need to mark it? On the ADVANCED screen I see the Transparency Flattener says Medium Resolution. As far as I know, I don't need a Transparency Flattener, but if High Resolution would be helpful, I would want everything the highest, I suppose. How do I save these changes so they don't revert back? Do I ever need to click on [SAVE PRESET] at the bottom left of the screens. If so, it then says ADOBE PDF PRESET 1 or 2. I just canceled out of that. So I need direction as to what to do. I assume when I get finished with all the changes I go on with EXPORT to finish up my PDF, which I did do. But since some of my changes have reverted back I'm not sure what to do. I just want the best quality book. So thanks for any additional advice. And thanks to the others that answered. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...the standard will change back to none because "no color conversion" is not part of PDF/X-1a:2003 format as PDF/X formats require an output intent profile described in the resulting PDF...

...this is for color managed workflows within a controlled printing environment (or loop) who print to a 'standard' or a calibrated workflow in CMYK color space...

...in europe this is known as an ISO printing standard based on FOGRA data tests on varying paper types (uncoated or coated papers). In theory if you used two different print providers who printed to the same standard targets, your prints would be pretty close, in the real world this is rarely the case, if ever...

...the PDF/X format would only apply if your print provider insists on such a format, so to save more confusion I wouldn't concern yourself with that at all, it is really only relevant in CMYK color printing, or when converting imported RGB images or native RGB colors during PDF creation to a destination CMYK profile...

...your project uses greyscale images (black ink) so color conversion is not relevant...

...during the conversion to PDF your images are converted to jpeg, which is fine so long as you don't compress the resolution too low, so leave at 300dpi...

...the crop marks and page info are useful to the print provider you send it to, so as long as you specify to them the correct page dimensions they won't print...

...you can change inches to mm in the preferences dialog of indesign, or just type in "3mm" in the fields and it will convert it for you to inches automatically...

...it is good practice to include bleeds even if the artwork doesn't have elements extending beyond the page trim size, this is so you don't have to remember to turn it on for one job and not another...

...always keep the transparency flattener set to HIGH...

...to save your changes to pdf settings you choose 'save preset' button and give a name, this then appears in the "File > Adobe PDF Presets" list...

...to delete a PDF preset you need to go to "File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define..."



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Oh dear, massive confusion

My fault I admit, as I wasn't clear

Everything I said is a step by step.

As you go through each step the Presets change to (modified)

and the Standard goes back to None.

But my settings will work, i'm confident of that

Andrews screenshots are spot on!

Exactly what I'd have done.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Just want to add that the standards provided by adobe are just guidelines, not definitives. I've been in the industry for 10 years, and I don't really know what the PDF standards really do. I do know that the settings I have are right, and when I choose the adobe presets they are wrongish.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Eugene and Andrew,
 You have both been extremely helpful. I think I have it now, except -- Andrew, you said -- ...always keep the transparency flattener set to HIGH... The Advanced screen has the transparency flattener grayed out, and it has Medium Resolution, which I can't change. Would you please advise? By the way, Eugene got me started on the right path, and your screen shots, Andrew, were really helpful to complete the process. Thanks to both of you. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

It's grayed out because the version of the pdf is above version 4 (1.3) to flatten it has to be version 4 (1.3).

To be honest, I don't think this is relevant to your book. This only matters if you have an object that is transaparent and overlaps other items.

So to be honest, saving as Acrobat 4,5,6,7,8,9 won't matter.

Any version above version 6 will give you the option to use in the Compression area JPEG 2000 which is a better compression than JPEG.

All that really matters is that the printers have the latest version of Acrobat Professional, version 4,5,6,7,8 or 9 to open the pdf you create.

I know some people upgraded to 9 recently, but I'm hearing problems with 9 so a lot of people have gone back to version 8 for now.


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Thanks Eugene. We have sent the PDF in before and it was printed without any problem except they are so inconsistent about quality. Sometimes the pictures were good and sometimes they were too light, so I was trying to be assured on my end that I was doing things right. My author has written a really good book, so now I will feel that I have done all I can. Thanks so very, very much. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...as eugene said, flattening is only required during Acrobat PDF 1.3 (or lower) creation, and also when printing to postcript (from the print menu)...

...PDF/X formats are for color controlled environments, by which understanding of output intent profiles are needed in the workflow (loop), an output intent might for example be a certain printing press printing on a certain kind of paper (uncoated or coated)...

...for these types of workflows your print provider will be hot on it from the start and can refuse a PDF that doesn't comply. A typical scenario is a print provider who prints monthly magazines on one type of paper, who print to an internationally known target (such as FOGRA in Europe)...

...if they know the output intent is honored in the PDF, then in theory they know it is compliant with their workflow, and so color consistency is a bit easier to control, from one months magazine, to the next. But this is all very well until the print provider change things like printing plates, printing blankets, printing inks, so with all these variables color can then shift...

...this then means things have to be measured all over again, which is no easy task and can take days to complete...

...Acrobat 5 (1.4) or higher preserves transparency, which ultimately means the print provider requires a RIP that can flatten the PDF transparency before it actually outputs to film, plate or proofing device...

...it is generally accepted that for an unknown print provider your best to process an Acrobat 4 (1.3) version and supply that, you can check the PDF in Acrobat before sending to a print provider to see that flattening has worked OK, this can be a time saver in the long run and avoid any come back from a print provider...

...some print providers insist on an Acrobat 4 (1.3) version because it then absolves them from any flattening problems that might occur late on in the workflow...

...whenever using transparent effects it is best to avoid using spot colors (special ink mixes) in artwork destined to be printed in CMYK, as during conversion to CMYK the spot colors can turn white and disappear completely, any spots used are best converted to CMYK before printing or creation of PDF...

...flattening always has to be done in the print process at some point, as the technology involved in printing is such that most RIPS are based upon postcript which doesn't support transparency, only recently Adobe have developed a PDF print engine that can handle transparency much better. It's not something anyone can buy, it is specifically for companies that develop printing RIPS and output equipment...

...most print providers still use the postscript path, which means you either supply them with a flattened PDF, or you get them to do it...

...getting them to do it can introduce problems and they may come back to you to advise any fixes required, assuming they are a vigilant print provider...

...but if you haven't used transparent effects, such as drop shadows, glows, opacity settings, transparent PSD files, then you'll be fine most likely...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...if your print provider is inconsistent about quality there can be a number of problems in the workflow that can effect quality such as poor plate exposure, one print minder printing differently to another in the same company because they do it by eye, and not everyone sees color the same, devices are available to measure ink densities for printers to control color output...

...poor quality paper is another area, different papers have a big effect on print quality and color...

...different printing presses can also vary in quality of output, even ones made by the same printing machine manufacturer. It might be that they print some of your work on one machine and the rest on another...

...all in all, printing is far from easy...


RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

 I have Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional. But in the Compatibility, should I change it to Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3) to be  safe? It is now Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4). Also, with your suggestion of typing in the 3mm and it would convert to inches I did that and it changed it to 0.1181 in. I'm assuming that is right. Some of the things you indicated about printers are above my head. I just hope and pray that with your and Eugene's help that we can have a great book! Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...yes indesign can convert values automatically so long as you use a measurement value like "mm" at the end of the value, it will convert it to the preferences they are set to, in your case inches...

...nothing wrong with using Acrobat version higher than Acrobat 4 unless your dealing with a print provider that is reluctant to take on PDF files that utilize live transparency due to equipment limitations they might have and they are unwilling to take on the responsibility of flattening issues if they arise (they can, for example, flatten PDF files in Acrobat Pro or they might even place a PDF in indesign and export the PDF to 1.3)...

...another reason for using a lower version of Acrobat is that many people don't have the latest version of Acrobat Reader, so for email proofing purposes it is also worthwhile using either Acrobat 4 or up to Acrobat 6...

...if the print provider does flattening then you can get into a situation of "who's to blame?" if problems arise further down the road, so if it were me, i would prefer to have control over my artwork and flatten in myself, check it over and once happy send away...

...i personally wouldn't flatten however if I use a print provider i know has the latest Adobe PDF print engine on their system...

...your artwork is without the use of transparency i imagine, so the version of pdf won't matter in your case...

...you can tell if an indesign page has transparency because you will see a checkerboard symbol bottom right of the page, like this next to the page number:


...the safest option is to supply in Acrobat 4 (1.3), however if your artwork has transparent elements then the flattening has to be set to HIGH and the onus is on you, the artworker, to spot any flattening issues that might occur...

...in indesign you have a transparency flattener preview palette you can use to identify possible problems, this is under window > output > flattener preview. Changing the "Highlight" option to "Raster fill text and strokes" is the one to use mainly, and also ensuring the preset option is set to "High"...

...it is then a case of manually checking each page that has transparency using the pages palette, any areas that become red highlight will become raster (bitmap) which for body copy or small text, can be a problem and won't print as sharp as neighboring text (or strokes/lines) that don't interact with transparency...

...a page that views completely grey is good to go, however there are situations where you can't fix problem areas and will have to make do...

...this function is mainly to inspect fairly complex artwork before flattening takes place on output. The solution is to simply move text or vector objects above transparent objects/areas wherever possible (command "bring to front" or move to a layer above using the layers palette)...

...you can also view individual separations using the window > output > separations preview palette, this is useful for checking spot colors (special ink mixes) are as required...



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...if you want to know more about PDF/X or PDF in general this link has it all:



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...once upon a time PDF files were simple, but can now get pretty complex, in fact PDF was never even intended for the printing industry, simply to transfer files in an office, saving paper and saving the need for computers to have many software packages to open specific formats...

...now PDF makes the printing industry P-retty D-amn F-renetic...

:  )

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Wow, what a lot to absorb. I'm sure the transparency part doesn't pertain to us. You guys are awesome! Thanks for taking the time to explain all this to me. I think I'm good to go. I will save all of this info for future reference. Thanks again. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

...always glad to help...

...and indeed, a lot to absorb about the graphics world, and just when you think you know, it can change again when software companies update, and updates are quite frighteningly fast...

...makes me wonder how far it can all go really, who'd have thought wireless computers only ten years ago would be reality...

...i've heard some clever folk trying to develop devices that are powered wirelessly too, no need for electric plugs all over the house...

: o

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Oh dear, I believe you both agreed I should put 3 mm (which converted into 0.1181 in.) in the Bleed box. But I just checked the size of the book in the PDF, and it says 6.24 x 9.24. Our book is 6x9, and as I said, we have already had copies printed and they have come out all right in size. Curious why you told me to do the bleed when it makes the size wrong. When I changed it back to all zeros it again made it 6x9. I'm glad I hadn't sent it yet. Arlene

RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

You were asked to include bleed because you should always include bleed, as practice.

The size that you have set in the Document Size is the size it will printed and trimmed.

Crop/trim marks are placed around your page, this is what the printers/binders use to crop/trim your book to size.

Bleed is only printed outside the trim size of your Document Size and does not affect the finished/trim size of your publication.

It is necessary to have bleed for any print job that is printed where any images or colours butt up against the page edge. If the colour or image were placedexactly on the edge of the page, then there could be trimming problems.

Basically the printers/binders use massive machines to trim the publications, if the page is out by 0.1 mm on the machine and perhaps the page is off by about 0.125 degrees under the guillotine, then what will happen is the blade comes through a stack of your pages and it will not trim right to the edge of the page, leaving a small sliver of white.

So, to counteract any movement on press or on the binding/trimming/cropping/guillotine we simply include an extra 3mm to the edge of each page, that is outside the trim/crop area, but it is ONLY so that anything that is outside the trim marks gives us the 3mm that is needed.

It doesn't affect the finished size of your book and it doesn't affect the price or cost or the overall look and feel of the book, it actually improves the look of your book.

Even if you have no images or colours extending to the edge of the page, it is good practice to include this Bleed, as practice.

It also means that if you are laying out a book and need to put a colour or image near the trim/page edge/crop, then you should let the image/colour extend 3mm off the page.

Then when you include Bleed of 3mm on the PDF, this image is now safe from any movement at the bindery stage.



RE: Getting good quality images with InDesign.

Thank you, Eugene. This is the best tech site I have found whose experts are willing to explain things fully and be patient with someone like me, who didn't grow up with computers. You did a great job of explaining, so now I have it. You guys are awesome. Arlene

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