Sharing InDesign Files

Links, Packaging, & Back-Saving in InDesign

There are a couple different things to consider when getting ready to share your files with your Printer or Designer: packaging, links, and back-saving a file to be compatible with an earlier version of InDesign. (We at MMP-MarketMailPrint set up and do most of our work in InDesign CS5, so this post will be InDesign specific.)

Links are images that are linked to your InDesign document from outside the document itself. When placing a photo into a document, go to ‘File’ and ‘Place’, and select your photo. The catch, though, is once the outside image is moved, renamed, or deleted, the link is broken and your high resolution picture is now low resolution. Notice the difference in the images below. The business card on the left has all of its images properly linked. Whereas, the business card on the right has lost its links for the image and font, therefore resulting in a low resolution image and the replacement of the name’s font to something generic.


This is where InDesign’s nifty little packaging trick comes in handy.

Packaging, in InDesign, is when your document and all the links and fonts it may hold are gathered, copied, and conveniently put into one easy-to-access folder. This makes it easy for someone to zip and send a file to their Printer or Designer with all the necessary bits and pieces.

Before packaging, always make sure to Preflight your document. At the very bottom of your InDesign window, there is a small area that tells you if you have any missing links or not.


If you click on the small arrow, it will bring up your Preflight Menu. Click on ‘Preflight Panel’, and your Preflight panel will pop up. This is a quick and easy way to see if you have any missing links or if you are all ready to package.

In order to package your files, and go to ‘File’ and ‘Package’, and the Package window will pop up. Go through the different panels on the side making sure that no links or fonts are broken.

Packaging Window

In each panel’s window, it will tell you that a certain number of links or fonts were found and a certain number of links or fonts are missing. If it says something is ‘Missing’, then a link has been broken and will be replaced by (as mentioned earlier) a low res picture or a generic font.

InDesign lets you find and reattached your lost links and fonts in this window. I, however, would suggest Canceling out of the Package window, relinking from your document, then repackaging, unless you are confident enough in what you are doing. You want to be careful you have all the correct photos.

In order to relink your photos, open the Links panel on the right side of your window (or if it’s not open, simply go to ‘Window’ and select ‘Links’).

All your photos will be listed, and if any of them have the stop sign symbol with the question mark then YOUR LINK HAS BEEN BROKEN! Simply click the ‘Relink’ button at the bottom of your list and find your appropriate file, and voila!

Once you’ve made sure you have NO missing links, click ‘Package’, and the ‘Printing Instructions’ window will pop up. It is not necessary to fill out this window unless directed by your printer, so press ‘Continue’. Lastly, name your folder and click ‘Package’ to save it to a location. Now, if you go and find your file, your document and all of its links and fonts will be nicely bundled into one tidy and convenient location.

As mentioned before, we at Austin MMP currently use Adobe InDesign CS5, and every once in a while we run into a customer who has a file from the newer version (CS5.5). InDesign often has trouble reading files from different versions, and since not everyone shares the same application, InDesign has another nifty trick where a newer version can save to be compatible with the previous version.

This is called back-saving. All you do is go to ‘File’ and ‘Export’, as if you were exporting normally, but before you press save click the drop down menu for ‘Save as Type’, and select ‘InDesign Markup (IDML)’.


This will save your file to be compatible with NOT ONLY CS5 but CS4, also! Remember, though, that this is still a normal InDesign file, and needs to be packaged and sent together.

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