Creating a PDF from InDesign’s Print Booklet Feature
You know InDesign has a Print Booklet feature, hiding near the bottom of the File menu. Print Booklet is terrific for doing basic imposition by putting more than one document page on the same printed page, so that when you print and fold (and sometimes cut) the pages, the right page shows up in the right place.
Every now and again I hear from someone who is using Print Booklet, but they want it to export a PDF. And unfortunately, Print Booklet only lets you print! There is no Export Booklet to PDF feature in InDesign. So I have two answers for people who want to export an imposed PDF:
First, I recommend you just say no. I’m only half-joking when I say this. But seriously, most people who want to get an imposed PDF out of InDesign really don’t need to. They’re just doing it because their printer told them to. And their printer told them to because the printer is either clueless, lazy, or dangerous. Good commercial printers will ask you for a regular PDF of your document (regular meaning the first page is on page 1, the second page is on page 2, and so on)… and they will do the imposition (turning it into a booklet) with their own software.
However, if you truly need to turn your InDesign document into an imposed PDF, the solution is to print it to disk as a PostScript file and then use Acrobat Distiller to convert that into a PDF.
Step 1: Set up Print Booklet. The first step is to choose File > Print Booklet and set it up properly for your needs:
Step 2: Print Settings. Click the Print Settings button at the bottom of the dialog box to open InDesign’s Print dialog box. Choose PostScript File from the Printer pop-up menu.
If you know what device it will be printed on, choose it from the PPD pop-up menu. Make sure the rest of the Print dialog box is set up properly for printing on that device. For example, you will probably need to set the Orientation and perhaps Scale to Fit, so that your pages will fit on the paper.
Step 3: Print PostScript. When you click OK, the Print dialog box will close and you’ll return to the Print Booklet dialog box. (At this point, make sure the Preview tab is showing the booklet properly.) Now, click Print and you can save the PostScript file with a name and location:
Step 4: Convert to PDF. Once your PostScript file has been saved to disk, it’s time to convert it to a PDF file. You can use Acrobat Distiller, or, in Acrobat Pro, just choose File > Create > PDF from File:
Acrobat launches Distiller in the background, converts the PS file to a PDF file, and quits. (Note that if you want to control the job options — that is, change which PDF Presets Acrobat will use — you can do that in Acrobat’s Preferences dialog box, or in Distiller.)
When Distiller is done, the result appears in Acrobat:
As I said, this isn’t my favorite technique, but it works. When you go the PostScript route, you get something suitable for printing, not on-screen viewing. That is, these things get stripped out: transparency, hyperlinks (and all other interactivity), layers, tags, articles, and anything else not required by a printer.