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Interactive PDF from InDesign CS5 Always Has Spreads On

[Editor: Note that this article is no longer relevant in CS6 and later.]

It was long-time reader Eugene T. who first pointed out that the new PDF (Interactive) export setting in CS5 had a little problem: It’s missing a number of the features from the PDF (Print) export dialog box. Most of these omissions aren’t that important (after all, you don’t need trim marks or transparency flattening in an interactive PDF). But there is one very important feature missing that can cause some grief: Spreads.

The Spreads checkbox in the PDF (print) dialog box lets you tell InDesign whether to merge left- and right-pages in a spread together into a single page in the PDF. For example, if you have a Letter-sized page in InDesign, and your document is set up for Facing Pages, then pages 2 and 3 appear to be two Letter sized pages in InDesign. However, when you export the document with the Spreads checkbox on, pages 2 and 3 are fused together into a single 17″ x 8.5″ page, called page 2.

So it’s rare that you’d turn Spreads on. Perhaps for proofing, or printing on a big laser printer. But when making a PDF? Rare.

However, there is no Spreads checkbox in the PDF (Interactive) dialog box… and Spreads is always turned on. So if you have Facing Pages documents in InDesign CS5 and you export as PDF (Interactive), the spreads always end up as spreads. Bad, bad, bad…


The solution is fortunately relatively simple: Open File > Document Setup, turn off Facing Pages, export the document, then Undo (to get back to facing pages).

But with every silver-lining, there is a cloud. As Eugene pointed out: “?The problem with the solution is the running heads for verso and recto can be different at times, and that’s where the Facing Pages is really needed, breaking this means I no longer have alternating running heads.”

Indeed: When you turn off Facing Pages, all the pages become “left” pages, so any items on your right master pages disappear!

The only other solution is to export as PDF (Print) and then add the interactive features manually in Acrobat, which is not much fun.

We hope that Adobe sneaks a Spreads checkbox into that export dialog box. Or, even better in my opinion, merge the PDF dialog boxes into a single export dialog box again so we have all the controls in one place.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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29 Comments on “Interactive PDF from InDesign CS5 Always Has Spreads On

  1. Hi,
    I’m not sure if this is the discussion blog I need to be in to ask this question but I’m sure someone will have an answer. I wanted to show a catalog I designed it’s 40 some pages long but I just wanted to show the cover and a few of the inside pages that you could turn, for a website. Would an interactive pdf be the file I should create for that? I am new to the interactive pdfs in inDesign.

    Thanks and I love this site!

  2. Books and interactive links…..
    Our manuals are made up of a bunch of individual files. The TOC is in it’s own file. I’d like to add a hyperlink/button on the master page used throughout to always take you back to the TOC. When I PDF the book file the link only returns you to first page of its individual file. Can this be made to work? Thank you

  3. Hello experts,
    I’m a novice with ID and this is my first forum post. I have a book with 30 chapters set up. Most is fine in the pdf export but 4 or 5 problems are unsolvable so far. One is this:
    It’s set up for facing pages but displays 3, 4 or more pages at a time depending on size of monitor. I followed the above suggestion of deselecting “Allow document pages to shuffle” — but:
    How would I “just pull the spreads apart”? Don’t see any way in the Pages panel.
    I’m sure it’s simple but could someone spell it out for me please? Thanks much.

  4. should i ask about how export a pdf file from indesign and make it independant page like (every page alone in the pdf file) and every page have a personal no.

  5. Now the interactive pdf is single paged (from CS5, InDesign) – thanks to this Forum :-)

    But… the interactive buttons are in the middle of the page in the pdf, and only on every second page.

    … Does any of you know a solution to that?

  6. When I use the togglespreads.jsx script to turn off the spreads feature then all my buttons disappear! I’ve reset my prefs and tried it in a new test document just to make sure. If I toggle the spreads back on, then the buttons come back. Can anyone else verify this?

    If this is the case, then turning spreads off isn’t really a solution. This is really frustrating, as I’ve spent 2 hours now trying to get a 500 page document with over 200 buttons that is designed for both online and print (without the buttons) exported properly from CS5 that worked beautifully from CS4. The new PDF export is turning out to be a real nightmare.

    I’ll probably have to split the file out to 2 versions, one for print and one for interactive, and set the interactive to non-facing pages and redo the master page for it.

  7. Sorry, let me clarify — the buttons disappear from the exported PDF(interactive) if you have “Buttons & Media: Include all” turned on. They still appear in InDesign.

  8. @perdman, I’m getting the same results?all of my buttons disappear with this script. I’m going to try the workaround next.

  9. Hey everyone,

    I have been searching like crazy for an easy solution to this and had a sort of “Eureka!” moment.

    I used the “breaking pages apart” solution found here, exported as interactive PDF with the settings “Fit Page” and “Two-Up (Cover Page)” selected and it works like a charm! All my buttons and table of contents are working as well!

    The only negative is that they are no longer side-by-side spreads in design view, but oh well. Does this sound like a decent solution or am I missing something? I’m a bit of a newbie…

  10. I am new to ID 5.5, having been using the original ID CS for the last few years and immediately ran into the problem that you have been discussing.

    KeithGilbert has posted a script which works for creating a single page interactive pdf but it causes funny button behavior, like they disappear or show up on a different part of the page.

    I have my buttons on master pages and discovered that if I convert them to hyperlinks it works beautifully. You lose a little functionality, like mouse over, but I am using the same button graphic with appearance settings of Type: Invisible and Highlight: Invert.

    There is a small difference in their appearance but it is negligible. I’m sure others have figured this out but since I didn’t see it in the posts, I thought I’d toss it out there.

  11. I too have this problem and will add a request for Adobe to fix.

    Problem: the workaround described above works to an extent, except when I pull the pages apart my chapter-opening right-hand pages lose a color bar across the top that is part of the two-page-spread design.

    I’m inexperienced with scripting, and my doc is only 72 pp so I separated the pages by hand in the Pages palette. Do you think the script would fix the loss of the master color bar on the right-hand pages? I’m running out of time!

  12. I haven’t read all the posts, so someone might have said this before.

    In order to export single pages, I simply exported using the Adobe PDF (print) option, and made sure that “create tagged PDF”, and include “bookmarks” and “hyperlinks” were checked.

    It seemed to work fine, and there was no need to alter the print document first.

  13. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

    I would have eventually been brought to tears or temper if I hadn’t found this page tonight. I really can’t thank you enough for posting that script. You just saved me the hours of work I would have had to spend re-creating a document. I had just naturally assumed that the “single pages” option in the export menu would actually produce single pages.

    Can I add one more little detail to your installation instructions… for InDesign 5.5, to make sure you drop the script into the folder Scripts>Script Panel>Samples>JavaScript – otherwise the Script Panel doesn’t recognize it.

    That was probably a given to you more experienced folks, but to someone installing a script for the first time ever, it did take a little bit of figuring out.

    Again, THANK YOU!!!

  14. Great thread, I had no previous knowledge of scripts in inDesign and fixed this problem in a matter of minutes, thanks so much!

  15. Can anyone help please? The “spreads” script is great, however, my buttons disappear once the file is exported to PDF. Thanks so much everyone for such helpful tips.

  16. Can someone tell me exactly what exporting to an interactive PDF does that I cannot do by exporting to a different PDF default setting (e.g., smallest file size) and then modifying those settings (e.g., turning hyperlinks on)? FYI, I’m using CS5 on a Mac.

  17. I loaded this script and ToolTips and now all the interactive buttons move to the centre of the page when outputting to pdf. Trouble is, turning them off and hasn’t stopped the problem. I removed them and still the same problem. This wasn’t happening until I loaded the scripts so I don’t know why it would still be happening. Even rebooted the PC and it didn’t help. This is a real problem, I have 3 x 24 page documents to get out

  18. I am running into this exact issue. Thank you for your excellent discussion. Do you know whether this issue has been fixed in later versions of InDesign? Thanks very much.

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