To Save File Size, Make Buttons in Acrobat Instead of InDesign
by: David Blatner | July 28, 2009
As Steve Werner recently pointed out, there are a lot of issues InDesign users need to think about when making interactive buttons. Here's one more: File size. I've meant to write this up for over a year, ever since PDF guru Ted Padova showed me the evils of InDesign navigation buttons. In short: When you put a button on a master page (such as a "next page" navigation button) of a 100 page document, then export a PDF file, InDesign duplicates that button 100 times. The program is not smart enough to say: "Hey, I'm going to use this next page button 100 times, once on each page, so just include it once and then refer to it 99 more time." The result is a significantly larger PDF than you need.
So, when creating nav buttons that will appear on every page, consider instead just making one of them in InDesign, then duplicating them in Acrobat Pro. It's not hard to do:
After creating the PDF from InDesign, open it in Acrobat and select the Tools > Advanced Editing > Select Object Tool. Select the button on the page. Then right-click on it and choose Duplicate from the context menu. You can choose which pages you want the object duplicated on (you probably want to choose All).
If you have more than just a couple buttons, you can make this go even faster by selecting all the buttons first. Annoyingly, it doesn't really look like more than object is selected, but that's just an acrobat user interface problem. Alternately, you can choose Forms > Add or Edit Fields and duplicate the objects from the Fields pane... though I find that a little cumbersome.
When you save your document (I suggest Save As), you should see hardly any difference in file size. But compared to a PDF that had the buttons on the master page, it's much smaller.
(In a sample test of a very simple 30-page text-heavy document with 2 nav buttons on each page, the buttons-on-master-page version was 224 Kb, and the buttons-duplicated-in-Acrobat version was only 164 Kb. It's not a huge difference, but the more pages and the more buttons the bigger the benefit!)
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