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: Why is my .pdf so much larger in file size than the InDesign file I created it from? I have a 17MB InDesign file. Not a huge file size for a 40 page booklet. When I convert it to a pdf


Posted in: #AdobeIndesign #Export #FileSize #Pdf

I have a 17MB InDesign file. Not a huge file size for a 40 page booklet. When I convert it to a pdf it blows out to 70MB! Usually the file size is reduced when saved to a pdf. I can't figure this one out. I'm saving pdfs as I usually do and have never had trouble before. For proofing purposes I'm able to lower the file size in Acrobat, but I can't do this for the final print file as I need high res images. Any ideas as to why the file size is so large when I convert it?


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There is no way to gess here what is that you have and what is the configuration or usage you need.

I don't think "convert" is a proper word for generating a pdf. Here is why.

PDF is not a "working" file, it is an output file. And there is not one "flavor" of pdf but can be customized according to your target needs.

Among the things you can configure your file that affects the file size are:

1) Color mode for images. If you used RGB files and you need a press ready file will be converted to CMYK. This files are bigger.

2) Resampling of the images. If the images used are bigger than ppi you need. This actualy can reduce a little the output file.

3) Compression. Indesign file size does not take into acount the external images. And thoose images can be a verey compressed jpg photos for example. On the output pdf they are inside and re-compressed as needed. But you should NOT use jpg compression on the press quality. The recomended compression is none or ZIP, which compresses less than the original jpg.

4) Converting text to curves. Instead of having text, you have thousands of curves which ocupies more space.

I'm adding another thing here.

If you are preparing a file for print file size does not matter.

If you need to send the file for email, play with thoose options.

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Try the following to reduce size assuming you have acrobat and acrobat distiller.

1.) Crop the size of your booklet to the bleedbox. Bleedbox is simply trimbox + the allowed bleed which will be specified by the printer you are choosing for this booklet.

2.) Save the PDF as a post-script file. File --> Save As --> More Options Post-script

3.) Run this post-script file through Acrobat Distiller which will regenerate a fresh PDF. You can still select the settings for whichever standard you need the PDF to be generated at. X-1a 2001 is a pretty safe standard which most digital printers accept. This PDF might be smaller in size as it gets the PDF to bare bones and erases a lot of the information that InDesign adds into the file depending on the settings chosen upon exporting.

I guess this doesn't get to the brass tacks of the 'why' but assuming you need a smaller PDF that is still ready to send to the presses I hope this helps. :)

P.S. saving to postscript from adobe acrobat, also known as, refrying can have unintended consequences and it is important to closely inspect your files after refrying to make sure that nothing has gone wrong in the process. For more information on the risks of refrying you can consult this article here:

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Press-ready PDF files are almost always much larger in terms of file size due to flattening and expanding of objects.

Note InDesign merely links to external images. However, a press-ready PDF must embed those links for proper reproduction.

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