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How to Package an InDesign File

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You just created an awesome magazine for a client in Adobe InDesign, and now the printer is asking for the InDesign package files. You have no idea how or what to include inside the package files. How to Package an InDesign File

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through why you should package your InDesign files, how to package an InDesign file, and what is included. Prefer a video tutorial? You’re in luck! Check out this new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn what an INDD file is and how to package it:

What You’ll Learn in This Tutorial on How to Package an InDesign File

  • What is an INDD file?
  • What are the benefits of packaging an InDesign file?
  • What is included in an Adobe InDesign package?
  • How to package an InDesign file

What You’ll Need

You can follow along with me and grab this magazine template from Envato Elements. We will use this throughout the tutorial, but first, let’s talk about the benefits of packaging your InDesign files.

1. What Are the Benefits of Packaging an InDesign File?

There are several benefits when you package an InDesign file. Two major benefits that I’ll touch on are that it keeps everything organized and that it eliminates time-consuming back and forth with the client and/or printer.

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A key benefit of file packaging in InDesign is that it keeps everything organized. If you’ve ever received an InDesign file that wasn’t packaged correctly, you’ll have noticed something like the image below.

The Links panel displays all the images that have been placed in your InDesign document. Placing an image in a document creates a link. Any time you save or add a link, InDesign will make sure that all links are active and not broken. The last thing you want is to have to spend time searching for a misplaced file or, worst-case scenario, having to recreate the file.

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Image link error in InDesign

Another great benefit of file packaging in InDesign is that it eliminates unnecessary back and forth with the client and/or printer. We all know that magazines have tight deadlines, and individual printers have their unique way of handling magazine files. Some only require a .25 bleed, while others require crops, bleeds, registration marks, and certain color outputs. Everything can be simplified and made easy by just sending the InDesign package file. It saves time and potential headaches from having to resend the file because of missing files or wrong settings.

Next, I’ll talk you through what you should include in an InDesign package file. 

2. What Is Included in an Adobe InDesign Package File?

What is an INDD file? The INDD file type is one of the four main components of an InDesign package file. The components are the INDD file and/or the IDML file, links folder, font folder, and PDF. Now, I will tell you why each one is necessary.

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You may be asking yourself why you should include the IDML (InDesign Markup Language) file when you’re already including the INDD file. The answer is simple.

Everyone may not be using the same InDesign version as you, so it’s good practice to include the IDML file. I’ve experienced a few instances when a client or printer wasn’t able to open the INDD file, but the IDML opened perfectly.

IDML files improve compatibility so that people using different InDesign versions can open the files. An INDD file type can only be opened in the version it was saved in. 

So it’s always a good idea to provide the IDML file as a backup. Next, let’s jump into why providing links is so vital.

Providing links is extremely important. Without links, the client or printer may run the risk of printing blurry images. Luckily, InDesign has great prompts and warning messages to let you know beforehand that something is wrong.

Take the image below as an example. I tried to export my magazine as a PDF, and I was immediately met with this prompt that informed me that one of my links was missing. If I were to bypass this warning and click ‘OK’, my PDF would contain blurry/pixelated images because of my missing link. Make sure your links are active and not missing or misplaced.

Link error report on export in InDesign

Fonts are essential for file packaging, but this process can get a little tricky. Certain fonts you can include in an InDesign file package, while others you cannot. A prime example would be Adobe Fonts. These fonts are stored in your Creative Cloud and automatically sync to your system when you open a file containing Adobe Fonts. Adobe doesn’t allow its fonts to be packaged. You should always read the font license before including the font(s) in your InDesign file packages.

Including a high-res PDF helps to eliminate any questions about how the magazine should look when it goes to print. It gives the printer a guide to how to arrange and print the pages of your magazine.

3. How to Package an InDesign File

Step 1

Now let’s see how to package an InDesign file. Open the Woods Magazine INDD file and make sure all the links and fonts are active. No links should be broken or misplaced. Check the Preflight panel by going to Window > Output > Preflight. You should see no errors, like the image below.

Preflight panel in InDesign

Step 2

Go to the Swatches panel, click the hamburger menu in the corner, and click Select All Unused. This will highlight any colors that we are not using in the document. If any colors are highlighted, click the trash icon to get rid of the colors. It helps to keep the document organized. You should also take the time to convert any RGB colors to CMYK.

Package indesign swatch panel

Step 3

Go to File > Package, and a dialog box should appear. This box lists all the colors, links, and other relevant information about your document. Click Package again. If another dialog box appears asking you to save the document, click Save. Save it to your desktop.

Now, the Create Package Folder dialog box should appear. Make sure to check Copy FontsCopy Linked GraphicsUpdate Graphic Links In PackageInclude IDML, and Include PDF (Print). Click Package.

Save packaged InDesign files

Step 4

You should now be able to locate the packaged InDesign file on your desktop. Your packaged file should look like the image below. It should consist of an IDML file, INDD file, PDF file, Document fonts folder, and Links folder. Zip (right-click > Compress) the main folder and send it off to the client or printer. Now you’re good to go—this is how to package an InDesign file. 

Package indesign file setup

That’s It! Now You Know How to Package an InDesign File

In this tutorial, you learned how to create Adobe InDesign packages and why you should do so. You also learned what is included in a package InDesign file and how to package an InDesign file. The next time a client or printer asks for the source files or an InDesign package, you know exactly what to do.

Wait, there’s more! Check out these amazing InDesign resources right at your fingertips. Expand your InDesign knowledge with this list of articles.

Ashlee Harrell, “How to Package an InDesign File,” Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+ (Envato Tuts, May 30, 2023), https://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-package-an-indesign-file–cms-39754?_ga=2.40789154.1284580576.1685508288-1206370576.1685508288.

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