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Automatically Generate Multiple PDF Pages

Lee wrote:

My printer requires all my catalogues and booklets supplied as individuals PDF pages, which means I always have to generate them separately from InDesign.

I don’t suppose you know any way of automatically exporting a booklet as individual pages, do you? (I would be very popular with my design team here if I could find a way to do this!)

I love helping people become popular with their design teams!

You can easily split a multiple page PDF into individual pages in Acrobat 9, which came out almost a year ago. If you haven’t upgraded to version 9 yet, read this post (and its comments) for some other third-party solutions. To export individual PDF pages out of InDesign you might try the Page Exporter Utility script that David wrote about a couple years ago. But personally, I like to review a PDF as a single document in Acrobat before splitting it up, instead of opening up individual page PDFs to make sure everything came through. It’s up to you.

Split A PDF in Acrobat 9

Start by exporting the layout to a single PDF from InDesign as you normally would, with whatever settings your output provider requires. Be sure to export the document as single pages (don’t turn on the Spreads checkbox) and turn on Marks/Bleeds as necessary.

Open the PDF in Acrobat 9 and choose Document > Split Document:

In the Split Document dialog box, the default “Max pages” amount is 2, so change that to 1. (Note another handy tool in the Split Document feature set: instead of splitting up a PDF by page number, you could divvy it up into logical sections via bookmarks. I’ve used that for long PDF files before, to make it easier for people to download chapters of a book. But that’s for another post.)

Click the Output Options button to specify how you want Acrobat to name the single-page PDFs and where it should save them. I usually create a new folder to hold everything, so I select Specific Folder and then the Choose button.

Click the OK button to confirm your options and close this dialog box, and then click the OK button in the Split Document dialog box to do the split. In milliseconds, your file is split up into the individual PDFs you need. Here are the results of splitting up a 12-page catalog using “Pg” as the label:

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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39 Comments on “Automatically Generate Multiple PDF Pages

  1. Forget the design team (me), the pressmen are going to love me. I only have Acrobat 8, but 9 is on the way as part of CS4. This tip will make my life much easier!

  2. In earlier versions of Acrobat you can go to Document>Extract Pages

    There is an option to extract all pages as single pages.

    You get files named, for example:


    which could be confusing for a press man.

    Luckily, with Bridge you can automaticaly rename a batch of files.

    I don’t remember off the top of my head where the option is but it’s definitely there

    so you could rename all the files


    and so on

    Perhaps that is another option?

  3. Another easy way to do this which works in Acrobat 8 (and earlier I believe) is to use Document > Extract Pages. Type in the numbers of the first and last pages and tick Extract Pages as Separate Files. The extracted pages have the name of the original pdf file plus a page number, so if you need a particular name, rename the original pdf before extracting.

  4. Well Anne-Marie, your way is uber-cool too. It was just the comment about the Acrobat version issue that spurred my response.

    The question was “automatically generate” and the way I do it is anything but automated. :)

    I like the way the Acrobat 9 does it and it’s faster probably.

  5. Anne-Marie:

    Other than the naming functions found in 9’s Split Document, doesn’t Extract Pages… from earlier versions do essentially the same thing? Admittedly, the naming feature is a nice addition, but you can always use Bridge’s Batch Rename feature if need be.


  6. Is there an easy way (via script, perhaps) to do the opposite? That is, take a 2-page PDF document of facing pages and merge them into a spread as a single page PDF?

  7. Hi,

    The Acrobat-Solution is ok, however the PDFs afterwards all have another version key … is that still with Acrobat 9? I’m always exporting 1.3-PDF/X for printing, so after extracting with Acrobat 7, I have 1.6 PDFs …

    There is also the PDF-Exporter.

    I personally always use the great script which was posted on the swiss InDesign-Forum here.


  8. Nothing can beat the Page Exporter Utility Script (PEU) described by David Blatner.
    It works with CS3 and CS 4 and it is incredibly fast!

  9. We (printers) need version of PDF to be 1.3. In Acrobat when you split pages that were originally 1.3 you will get higher version of PDF. Check with Ctrl/Cmd+D. Transparency has been flattened during export from InDesign. But, in some cases non APE RIP can see higher version of PDF as trouble. Then the RIP is going to perform conversion from PDF to PostScript. At this point problems could arise.

    Do not use Acrobat. Use scripts. PEU is great but give a try to ExportPagesID

    It works with CS2/CS3

    best wishes

  10. I’ve tested above mentioned script with CS4 and it works fine for me (export to .ps) except a small “glitch”. You have the choice to export all pages or specify a page range. In my test I used a 60page publication, marked “all” and got 55 pages exported! This happened 3 times. Then I tried this and specified to export the page range 1-60 – the script did the job and exported all 60 pages. Maybe it has something to do with CS4, only the scripter can give an answer to that. The other thing I realize you don’t get a message when export has been finished like PEU does. Regarding the “speed” on the first glance the script seems as fast as PEU. But I am testing with CS 4

  11. I have the opposite problem – I need to combine two pages into a spread which had been expoerted from an InDesign book to a PDF. The book is half-letter, so I need the spread to print fully as a spread. However, the chapters were set to start on a right-hand page and the PDF export does not include the extra page before the chapter beginning to make a full spread.
    How may I combine them.
    Thank you.

  12. Hi!
    My co-worker and I are working with a very large inDesign file, converting it into a PDF and then linking it. It has become a very hard task since every time we have a change or updates we have to go and re-ink everything…are we doing this wrong?? is there an easier way of keeping the link paths while making changes?? It is really driving us nuts!!!

  13. Hi Maria .. I could’ve sworn we (I?) wrote a post about this in the past, but I can’t find it. I know it’s one of the videos I did on my Acrobat Tips & Tricks for

    First, not sure what exactly you mean by linking/relinking. Are you using Acro’s Link tool and setting up links you can’t do in ID? I’ll assume you are.

    All you need to do is to export just that page(s) that has the updated info from your ID file. So if you fix a typo or add a word on page 73, then export just page 73 to PDF (using the same export settings as the original big PDF if possible).

    Then open the fully linked PDF in Acro, go to page 73, and choose Document > Replace Pages. Have it replace page 73 in the doc with the page73.pdf you exported.

    What happens is the content of page 73 updates, but the links you had on page 73 remain (and any other links in the other pages of course). Links and form fields and such are kind of in an invisible layer, above the PDF pages. Replacing pages doesn’t touch that layer.

  14. Thank you so much! I have been trying to figure this out all afternoon. I knew there had to be a simple way to do this, but just couldn’t find it.

  15. Hey! Thank you for all the information you provide?seriously, I learned how to use InDesign (having been taught quark) from this site when the program came out! You’ve always been an indispensable resource for me.

    So, I finally got the company I am working for to make the upgrade from Quark 8 to InDesign CS5 (w00t!). But I’m trying to figure out a way to export single pages all at once directly from INDD (you know that handy little check box in Quark’s export menu> Export as Single Pages?). Any help? Magical scripts? Nifty secrets?

  16. @Dimitrije,

    As a printer this was a concern for us also, tried using split in Acro 9 today instead of Extract and split did not change the PDF version, at least on this one file.

  17. I have yet another question. I recently converted all of my Quark documents to InDesign CS5. I now have to generate PDFs for all of the files (300+). Do you know a way to batch the files without opening them all up?

  18. Hi

    As David suggests, Zevrix Batch output has been my lifesaver on this. You don’t need to open files – just tell it how you want to name the PDFs, where you want to save them and select your PDF export style. Run as many files as you like, go make tea

  19. One thing I would really like to say is always that before acquiring more computer memory, take a look at the machine into which it will be installed. When the machine is definitely running Windows XP, for instance, the memory ceiling is 3.25GB. Setting up in excess of this would merely constitute just a waste. Make certain that one’s motherboard can handle your upgrade volume, as well. Thanks for your blog post.

  20. I would like to automate my process with pdfs. I want to produce single page pdfs but I also need to scale my pages down by 93% any ideas

  21. This tip saved me SO much time, and I wanted to thank Anne-Marie for answering this back in 2009. Never thought this could be done, and I was scanning one page at a time. Now all I have to do is one scan, split them, and rename the individual files. Thank you again!!!

  22. This is fantastic!! I was just informed that my publisher needs a new formatter for my picture book (that was due to the printer 3 weeks ago) and I decided to go for it. After all, I’m already the author and the illustrator. Creating it as one document instead of 32 separate ones will make is a lot faster and easier to make sure that the setup of each page looks good. Thank you for this post. I assume it will work in Acrobat X as well.

  23. A helpful hint for those using the most recent version of Acrobat on a Mac (which is Acrobat XI Pro as of August 2014): You can find the Split Document feature via View/Tools/Pages/Manipulate Pages when navigating from the menu bar. Happy splitting!

  24. Thank you Emme! Well they really hid it well in the new versions haven’t they? But I knew the comment section would help me out:)

  25. I have an even more complicated request. Let me see if I can explain what I need.

    We create postcards for a client, then print and mail them. Each postcard is double sided (Front and Back), and each post card has a unique number as a code, but all postcards in the file do not have sequential numbers. Our InDesign files are set up like this:

    Page Page Name Postcard
    1 A1 CODETEXT1
    2 B1 CODETEXT1

    3 A2 CODETEXT2
    4 B2 CODETEXT2

    5 A3 CODETEXT3
    6 B3 CODETEXT3

    7 A5 CODETEXT5
    8 B5 CODETEXT5

    9 A7 CODETEXT7
    10 B7 CODETEXT7

    11 A13 CODETEXT13
    12 B13 CODETEXT13

    In this example I have one InDesign document, which contains 6 postcards total. There are 12 actual pages in InDesign (no spreads). Each pair is one post card front and back. Each postcard is given a prefix code like FSRT, which is printed on the back of the postcard and after the code name goes the “page number” as assigned in InDesign. This is why the pages are labeled with different prefixes for front and back, because you cannot have two page 13s in InDesign, so we have A13 (front) and B13 (back).

    The goal is to export from InDesign separate PDFs for each postcard, meaning a 2 page PDF, that is labeled with the correct prefix and the correct postcard code number.

    This means I would end up with these 6 different PDFs:


    I tried the Page Exporter Utility, but the problem here is that in this example, page 11 and page 12 have technically the same “page number” assigned in InDesign (13), therefore I end up having PDFs with only the backs of each postcard, because the fronts get overwritten once the backs are saved. Also, I cannot use this to export 2 pages into one single PDF, but rather all pages individually.

    I tried the Split PDF utility, which is great because I am able to export 2 pages into one PDF. However, I am stuck having to keep the Original Name of the file, wether it is before or after the file labeling, and I can’t use the page numbers to name the files either.

    There has to be a better way for me to accomplish this, since this example is pretty basic and easy to rename manually, but we deal with other files that have over 50 postcards (100 pages), not in chronological or sequential number order, and some that have 3 pages each, instead of 2 (Front, Back + Magnet of postcard).

    So, basically what I need is a scrip that lets me export PDFs from InDesign directly or using the Adobe Acrobat Pro Split Pages Feature, but that lets me choose how many pages to export for each PDF and also use the page number of the first page of the set only to name the file, and let me add a specific prefix without using the file name at all.

    Wow that’s a lot to ask, I guess.

    If anyone out there can help us, I appreciate it :)


  26. Hi y’all,

    I’ve written an AppleScript that does something similar. Like Melissa requested above, I had a need to name the PDFs with unique names which I listed in a CSV file. The CSV file is just a list of names in one column and can easily be modified in Text Editor. The number of names in the list must match the number of pages in the Indesign document. So the script exports the Indesign document to individual PDFs with the same names as in the CSV.

    I’ve listed it for $1 just because my WordPress template makes you sign up as a subscriber that way. I intend to add the following optional features:
    1. Export PDFs with a suffix with the page number e.g. “_pg1”
    2. Export JPEGs with the same options as for PDFs (page number suffix or named from a CSV)
    3. The ability to specify page numbers to start and finish from.

    For everyone who registers I will send you free updates.

    • Not much of a response yet so I’ve updated the script to include the following features:

      • It exports files straight to the Indesign file folder or a sub folder of your choice
      • Exports individual pages. Each page is specifically named from one of the following options:
      – Indesign filename & suffix-of-your-choice & page no.
      – CSV or text file (names separated by returns).
      – The content of a character style from each page.
      – The content of a paragraph style from each page.
      • Option to combine JPEGs into a single PDF
      • Export current document or all open documents in Indesign

      It’s a free download with no registration so if you want to hear about updates, leave a comment or your name through the contact form.

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