Knowing how to export InDesign files for both print and screen from the same source document is crucial, particularly for content creators who aim to distribute their work across multiple formats. This skill enables a seamless transition of a single project—such as a book—to be available in physical stores as a printed copy and online as an eBook. This article will guide you through the process step-by-step, ensuring your designs look stunning on any screen or page.

Table of Contents

Preparing Your Document

Before you delve into exporting, ensure your document is set up correctly. This preparation phase is vital for a seamless transition from design to output.

  • Document Setup: Begin by setting up your InDesign document with the intended dimensions and orientation.
  • Page Layouts: Utilize consistent margins and guides to maintain a uniform layout across different pages.
  • Fonts and Images: Embed all fonts and link high-resolution images to prevent errors during printing or digital display.
  • Adobe PDF Presets: For exporting to PDF, select the appropriate preset from Adobe that best matches your needs, such as 'High Quality Print' or 'Smallest File Size' for web.

Differences Between Exporting for Printing and Digital Use

When exporting InDesign files, it's essential to distinguish between settings for print and screen to optimize the quality and functionality of your designs. Exporting for print primarily focuses on high resolution and color accuracy, crucial for maintaining the visual integrity of printed materials. This typically involves setting documents to CMYK color mode, selecting high-quality PDF presets like 'Press Quality,' and ensuring all fonts and images are embedded to avoid discrepancies during printing. Conversely, exporting for screen adjusts for the various digital displays viewers might use, prioritizing file size and interactivity. Here, designers should opt for RGB color mode, lower resolutions (such as 72 to 150 DPI), and consider interactive elements like hyperlinks and multimedia, which are vital for engaging digital audiences effectively. These tailored approaches ensure that whether your audience views your design on a glossy printed page or a bright digital display, the experience is always optimal.

Exporting for Print

When your project targets a physical medium, specific considerations ensure high-quality results. Select 'Export' from the File Menu: Choose 'Adobe PDF (Print)' to access the best options for print output. Preset Settings: Choose a preset like ‘Press Quality’ for maximum resolution. Marks and Bleeds: Include crop marks and set the bleed to the printer’s specifications to ensure no unprinted edges occur in the final product. Color Management: Make sure colors are set to CMYK to match commercial printer requirements.

  • Resolution: Minimum 300 DPI.
  • Color Profile: CMYK.
  • Crop Marks: Include for trimming.
  • Bleed Settings: Typically 1/8 inch on all sides.

Follow these steps to export your document for printing purposes: 

  1. To export a template to a PDF file for printing purposes, you open the export panel by going to ‘File’ in the upper left hand corner and choose ‘Export…’.
  2. A new window pops up where you can choose a name and location to save your PDF file.
  3. Set the format to ‘Adobe PDF (Print)’ and hit ‘Save’.
  4. A new window pops up where you can adjust the export settings to the requirements of your printing company.
  5. Choose ‘Export’ to create the PDF file.

Exporting for Screen

Digital platforms require different settings to ensure your design translates well on all devices. Format: Choose ‘Adobe PDF (Interactive)’ when exporting files meant for electronic viewing. Quality: Opt for a lower resolution (72 to 150 DPI) to reduce file size and facilitate faster loading times. Include Hyperlinks and Buttons: If your document has interactive elements, ensure they are active and correctly linked. Adobe PDF Presets: A preset like 'Interactive' or 'eBook' can be ideal for screen-based documents.

Follow these steps to export your document for screen purposes such as ebooks:

  1. To export a template to a PDF file for digital purposes, you open the export panel by going to ‘File’ in the upper left hand corner and choose ‘Export…’.
  2. A new window pops up where you can choose a name and location to save your PDF file.
  3. Set the format to ‘Adobe PDF (Interactive)’ and hit ‘Save’.
  4. A new window pops up where you can set the document preferences to your liking.
  5. Choose ‘Export’ to create the PDF file.

Final Checklist Before Exporting

Before hitting 'Export', run through this checklist to avoid common mistakes: Proofread Your Document: Check for typos and formatting issues. Double-Check Your Links and Buttons: Ensure all interactive elements work as expected. Preview the Output: Use InDesign’s ‘Preview’ mode to see how your document will look once exported. Save Your Settings: Save your export settings as a preset for future projects to ensure consistency.

Ready-to-Use InDesign Templates

Creating a design from scratch for your publication can be overwhelming. That's why we offer a selection of professional Adobe InDesign templates to simplify your design process. Our templates cater to various needs—whether you're working on a book, brochure, lookbook, or magazine.

They come in multiple sizes and styles, each designed to be ready-to-use and fully customizable. All templates are print-ready, equipped with essential elements such as bleeds, paragraph styles, and separate layers. They can also be used for digital formats. If you're looking for efficient and high-quality design solutions, explore our Adobe InDesign templates here and easily bring your creative projects to life.


Exporting InDesign files efficiently for both print and screen is crucial for graphic designers. By following these detailed steps and using the right settings, you can ensure your documents always look professional and cater precisely to your audience's needs, whether they're viewed on paper or pixels. Don't forget to visit our blog for more tips and to check out our range of design templates tailored for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Canva, Notion, and Squarespace, enhancing your creative projects with professional, easy-to-use layouts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the key differences between the 'Press Quality' and 'Interactive' PDF presets in InDesign?

A: Press Quality: This preset is designed for high-resolution output where print quality is paramount. It includes all fonts, preserves a high level of image quality, and ensures that colors are set to CMYK. It's ideal for materials that will be printed on a commercial press. Interactive: This preset optimizes the PDF for digital viewing, including lower resolution settings to reduce file size for faster download and viewing online. It supports RGB color modes and enables the inclusion of interactive elements such as hyperlinks, buttons, and embedded multimedia.

Q: How can I ensure my colors are accurate when exporting for print?

A: To ensure color accuracy in print, always convert your colors to the CMYK color space. This conversion is crucial because printers combine Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) inks based on this color model. Additionally, consider using color proofing tools or consulting with your printer to view a proof before final production to avoid any unexpected color shifts.

Q: Can the same InDesign file be used to export both print and digital formats without quality loss?

A: Yes, the same InDesign file can be used to export both formats. However, you must adjust the export settings accordingly for each format to ensure the best quality. For print, focus on high resolution and CMYK color mode; for digital formats, prioritize lower resolution, RGB color mode, and interactive features. This dual approach allows you to maintain high quality in both outputs from a single source file.

Q: What should I check before exporting an InDesign file to avoid common mistakes?

A: Before exporting your file: 1. Proofread for any typos or grammatical errors. 2. Review all links and interactive elements to ensure they are functional. 3. Preview your document in InDesign using different screen modes and the 'Overprint Preview' feature to check how colors and elements overlap. 4. Consult your print settings and requirements to make sure all specifications match the needs of the print job, such as resolution and bleed settings.

Q: How can I use InDesign templates to speed up my design process?

A: Using InDesign templates can significantly streamline your design workflow. Templates provide a pre-defined structure for your projects, including placeholders for text and images, predefined color schemes, and proper formatting styles. This setup allows you to quickly insert your content without having to build layouts from scratch, ensuring consistency across documents and reducing production time.

Q: Is it necessary to embed fonts when exporting a PDF from InDesign?

A: Embedding fonts when exporting your PDF is essential to ensure that the text appears as intended, regardless of whether the file is viewed on another computer that may not have the same fonts installed. This is especially important for maintaining the integrity and professionalism of your printed and digital publications.

Q: What are some tips for creating effective eBook designs in InDesign?

A: When designing eBooks in InDesign, consider the following: Use a readable, web-optimized font to enhance readability on digital devices. Incorporate interactive elements such as hyperlinks, table of contents, and navigational buttons to enrich the user experience. Keep your layout simple and flexible, as eBook readers vary in size and functionality. Optimize your images to balance quality and file size, ensuring quick loading without compromising visual impact.