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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe InDesign

How to Package an InDesign File

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Read Time:6 minsLanguages:
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

You just created an awesome magazine for a client in Adobe InDesign, and now the printer is asking for the packaged files. You have no idea how or what to include inside the packaged file. In this tutorial, I will walk you through why you should package your InDesign files, how to package an InDesign file, and what is included.

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.

Woods magazine templateWoods magazine templateWoods magazine template

What You'll Learn in This Tutorial to Pack an InDesign File

  • What are the benefits of packaging an InDesign file?
  • What is included inside of a packaged InDesign file?
  • How to package an InDesign file

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

There are several benefits to packaging an InDesign file. Two major benefits that I will touch on will be that it keeps everything organized and that it eliminates time-consuming back and forth with the client and/or printer.

A key benefit to packaging InDesign files is that it keeps everything organized. If you've ever received a file that wasn't packaged correctly, you would've 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.

Image link error in InDesignImage link error in InDesignImage link error in InDesign

Another great benefit 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 packaged InDesign 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 a packaged InDesign file.

2. What Is Included in a Packaged InDesign File?

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

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 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 InDesignLink error report on export in InDesignLink error report on export in InDesign

Packaging fonts can get a little bit tricky. Certain fonts you can package, while others you cannot. A prime example would be Adobe TypeKit fonts. These fonts are stored in your Creative Cloud and automatically sync to your system when you open a file containing TypeKit fonts. Adobe doesn't allow its fonts to be packaged. You should always read the font license before including the font(s) in your packaged files.

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 pack 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 InDesignPreflight panel in InDesignPreflight 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 panelPackage indesign swatch panelPackage 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 that asks 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 Fonts, Copy Linked Graphics, Update Graphic Links In Package, Include IDML, and Include PDF (Print). Click Package.

Save packaged InDesign filesSave packaged InDesign filesSave 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 a Links folder. Zip (right-click > compress) the main folder and send it off to the client or printer.

Package indesign file setupPackage indesign file setupPackage indesign file setup

You're Now an InDesign Packaging Pro!

Throughout this tutorial, you learned the amazing benefits of packaging an InDesign file and why you should do so. You also learned what is included in a packaged InDesign file and how to package an InDesign file. The next time a client or printer asks for the source files or a packaged file, 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. You can expect to learn how to insert an image and acquire the many tips and tricks to make designing a lot easier.

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