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How To Keep InDesign Transparency in PDF Files

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You have spent quite a bit of your time designing a nice brochure in InDesign. You have a drop shadow here, an image with transparency there, and so on. It looks great. Then you make a PDF and white outlines show around that nice drop shadow or that image with transparent background. How do you handle that?

First, print your document at the highest resolution you can print with your desktop printer. If the outlines are no longer there, you simply need to change a display setting in your Acrobat.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: A few minutes to create a PDF file from InDesign

Here's How:

  1. Set Smoothing Preferences in Acrobat
    Go to the Preferences in Acrobat and click on the Smoothing tab (or Display for Acrobat 5). Then uncheck the Smooth line art option.

  2. Set PDF Compatibility
    If Step 1 doesn't work, or if the white outline shows when you print your job, then choose Acrobat 5 compatibility when you make your PDF (PDF 1.4).

    If you are going to print this with an offset press, your printer's RIP should be Level 3 PostScript for the best results. Consult with your printer if you are unsure. As a guideline, if your printer can handle PDFs made directly from InDesign, without the use of Distiller, then he can probably handle Acrobat 5 compatible PDFs.

  3. Use Workarounds
    If your printer cannot handle Acrobat 5 compatible files, then you need to use a couple of workarounds.
    • The first one is to place your text on a separate layer on top of your graphics.
    • The second one is to use clipping paths to get rid of background from your images, instead of using Photoshop's transparency.

What You Need

  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Acrobat 5
Related Video
How to Export to PDF in InDesign

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