From Illustrator to InDesign

When using page layout applications like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, designers are usually creating art for printing, for the web, or for mobile devices.  Depending on the final output of the design, the designer will choose a different file color mode, such as RGB or CMYK, different file dimensions, and different file weigh.  Therefore, the designers must usually create all parts of the artwork in other applications like Photoshop and Illustrator, with the final output in mind.

When it comes to Adobe Illustrator, there are two different options for creating files.  The designer may choose to “Save” the artwork, or “Export” the artwork.  When saving the artwork, the designer may choose from several file formats like .ai, .pdf and .eps.  When exporting the artwork, the designer may choose from other file formats like .tiff.  However, one thing must always be kept in mind, the designer should always save an original copy of the artwork in an editable format will all editable layers and text, which would be the original Adobe Illustrator format, .ai.

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Now, when it comes to saving Adobe Illustrator files to later use inside InDesign page layouts, we can use PDF, TIFF or EPS files.  Therefore, a second copy of the original file must be saved for the sole purpose of importing to InDesign.  Once the page layout is completed and it is time to import artwork created in Adobe Illustrator, we can select the “place” option in InDesign.  In theory, all 4 file types, AI, PDF, TIFF and EPS can be placed using the “place” option within InDesign.  However, we might encounter some problems with each file.

The Adobe Illustrator file may not place correctly if the “Create PDF Compatible File” option was not selected when saving the original Illustrator File.  The PDF file will be placed correctly, but there will not be a transparency effect for the background of the object placeholder.  The TIFF file may place correctly, but like the PDF file, the background will not be transparent, and the quality of the image will be determined by the specifications made when saving the TIFF file.

EPS files are virtually accepted by every page layout, word-processing and vector applications.  When saving EPS files from Adobe Illustrator, there are far more options available to the designer, than when saving any other file type.  An important option is saving a transparent background, which would import perfectly to InDesign.  Another important option is the “Embed Fonts” option, which will ensure that the correct font will appear when printing an imported EPS file into InDesign.  Although, the designer could always save a copy of the original Adobe Illustrator file, with all the text outlined, but it would not go well if all you had was this outlined file for last minute text changes.  Another great option is the “Include Linked Files” option, which will ensure any placed and linked files within the Adobe Illustrator original file will not be missing once imported into InDesign, which is possible, because EPS files may contain both vector and bitmap graphics.  With all of these options, it is clear that the best file format to use in this case would be the EPS file format.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of export and save options for a reason, and that is because one file format may work best for one particular type of project, and another format may work best for another type of project.  This is why there is not and should not be one particular standard file format.


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