Mind your InDesign Metadata: It Might Show Up in a Web Browser!
Gary Cosimini March 5, 2018
Last month, when I was testing an email blast for my wife’s gallery (the Galerie St. Etienne in New York City), I had a strange experience… something you probably want to be aware of if you create PDF files from InDesign.
I had made a PDF, uploaded it to our server, and then linked to it from within the email blast. However, my wife’s web team complained that when they opened the PDF in their web browser their browser tabs were reading “Summer Checklist 2007,” when plainly it was neither 2007 nor summer! Where did that title come from?!
This was strange because I certainly wasn’t seeing that in Safari, but they were seeing it in Firefox and Chrome. (You can test the PDF yourself here.)
It turns out that both Chrome and Firefox (on Mac OS, anyway) display the XMP metadata for the PDF, while Safari doesn’t. Both browsers use tabs in their interface, even with only one document open. Safari does not show its tab interface unless you have more than one page open, and then all it displays—for a PDF—is its URL.
It seems that back in 2007, when this InDesign template was first designed, I had filled out the Title field in File > File Info, and unfortunately I hadn’t bothered to change it since. (Yes, I have been working from the same InDesign template since 2007… now that’s a reliable file format for you!)
But from now on I will pay more attention to that File Info dialog box. (Here’s the PDF with the proper Title, which you can see in Firefox or Chrome.)
Of course, that Title field can act like free advertising — it’s one more impression you can make on the reader when they’re viewing a PDF on the web. Maybe someday Safari will catch on and display it properly, too.
On the other hand, metadata is a two-edged sword. PDFs created by Mac’s native QuartzContext print driver will not only automatically embed a document’s literal title into the Title field, but also the user account name! This could lead to a heap of trouble when journalists or lawyers examine PDFs that might have been created using more, uh, revelatory Titles, like “podesta-emails” with Author “fancybear”… you get the picture!
For that reason, I’d suggest manually entering your PDF’s title rather than, say, using scripting as some people suggest. (See this Adobe Forum thread for a script from Zeno Design that can do this for you automatically.) Clearly, not all browsers display XMP metadata, but some do… and that’s something we should be aware of, whether we are using InDesign or Acrobat, or even Word, to create PDFs for the web.
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