Preflight While You Design

Regular Feature: How-To's Day

Think with the final output while you design and you will save time at preflight stage

If you have read last How-To on Designorati:Desktop Publishing you know what you are looking for when you want to prepare a file for printing on an offset press. I am now going a step backwards to show you what to do to avoid problems even before they happen.

The Links Palette

In the earlier tutorial I have mentioned that when you modify graphics with a program such as Photoshop, after you have placed them into InDesign, those graphics need to be updated. You can do this in the Preflight window, but also the Links Palette (Window>Links) lets you do that.

Links paletteFigure 1: the Links palette and its menu

The illustration is pretty self-explanatory, but here is a quick rundown of this palette’s options.

Relink: Makes you change a currently linked image with another one or if you moved the original image, it allows you relink it.

Go to Link: You want to look at an image on page 2 of you document but you are on page 93. Select the link you want to look at in the links palette and then click Go to Link. You will be taken to that link wherever it is in the document.

Update Link: If you have placed an image in InDesign and then you modified it in a graphics program, update it here, so you are able to view the modified image and not how it looked like originally. Sometimes InDesign will automatically make the updates.

Edit Original: Opens your image in the graphics program which created it.

Convert Swatches and Graphics to CMYK

Running the Preflight option in InDesign is a very quick way to check whether you have any graphics in CMYK mode. If you find you have any RGB images, then convert them to CMYK. You also need to make sure that all your swatches are CMYK. The use of the Swatches palette is covered in lesson 3 of this course.

View Modes

In the first lesson of this class I described the Tools palette in very broad strokes. Since that lesson, we went through all the tools and we learned how to use its swatches. We still have one thing to look at, which I also mentioned in the first lesson – the view modes. These allow you to look at your document in different ways,s you can see whether your bleeds are set up correctly, or how your layout will look without the added bleed. All this without touching your layout, but simply switching amongst the various view modes.

The last two buttons in the Tools palette give you a variety of view options of your document. The button on the left is the Normal View Mode, which is the default. This view mode allows you to see everything in your document, i.e., the document’s pages, the pasteboard, the slug and the bleed (slug and bleed are explained in lesson 1).

InDesign's Normal ViewFigure 2: the Normal View

View mode flyoutPicture 3: the flyout menu showing the different view modes

The button on the has a flyout menu that allows you to toggle between three view mode: the Preview Mode, the Bleed Mode and the Slug Mode.

  • The Preview Mode lets you see your document without bleed and slug
  • The Bleed mode lets you see your document with the bleed, but without slug
  • The Slug mode allows you to see your slug but not the bleed

Note: You will not see the pasteboard in any of these view modes.

How-To’s Day is a regular Designorati feature in which we give you fresh tutorials across all of Designorati. How-To’s Day happens every other Tuesday.

2 thoughts on “Preflight While You Design”

  1. I am exporting a newsletter document with a .125 bleed locked on all edges and I have noticed that the PDF shows the bleeds. The PDF was saved with all in document bleeds and I was wondering if my paranoia of the bleeds printing as well was, just that. Should I not worry about the bleed printing as well. I hope this explanation is okay, Thank you.


  2. Hi, Derrick.

    Actually, you do want your bleeds to print–that’s the whole point. Bleeds output to press, printing on the final sheets. They’re trimmed off during finishing when the paper is cut down on a guillotine. The purpose of extending bleeding artwork beyond the trim size (thus into the bleed area) is so that the extra art survives until cutting. Because paper, cut in large stacks, can shift slightly on the cutter, even a half-point shift can leave an ugly white strip down one or two edges of bleeding artwork. Extending bleeding edges out 1/8th-inch (0.125-inches) ensures that, should a minor shift occur during cutting, there will be no white stripe.

    By the same token, you need to make sure that the critical elements of your design are 1/8th-inch inside the trim area (this inner space is called the live area) so that, if paper shifts during cutting, nothing important is cut off.

    Now, as to whether your printer knows that your bleed area is indeed part of the bleed overage not part of the trim size… Communicate with the printer. When creating your PDF, you should add cropmarks as well (available in most PDF export options), but also talk to the printer, noting the desired trim size and the inclusion of the bleed area.

Comments are closed.