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Packaging Graphics on the Pasteboard

When you choose File > Package, InDesign creates a new folder with a copy of the active InDesign file, and optionally, copies of the placed graphics and copies of the fonts used in the document. Most everyone who runs the Package command wants these items included, since the Package command is normally used to create a single folder containing everything an outside vendor will need to output the file. And they’ll need those fonts and native image files to do so.

One thing the Package command doesn’t do, though, is copy/update links to imported files that are sitting entirely in the pasteboard area of a layout, such as the three images you see in the screen shot below. It keeps the previews of them (in the “packaged” version of the layout, the pasteboard items appear) but they’re still linked to the native hi-res files in their original locations on the designer’s hard drive.

pasteboard items

The philosophy here is that since items that sit entirely on the pasteboard aren’t included in the output, there’s no reason for InDesign to include them in the Package.

The problem is that many users employ the Package command to archive jobs, not just to create something for the printer. They want all the elements of the layout collected in one folder, including the native files for images on the pasteboard.

Even if they’re packaging for the printer, they don’t want their vendor to have to worry about “missing or renamed links” when opening the file or looking at the Links palette. Vendors have to stop and make sure that the missing image links are all for files on the pasteboard (these appear with a “PB” instead of a page number in the palette) before proceeding.

Three Solutions to the Problem

Besides deleting pasteboard images before packaging, or including them on an extra page in the document (which can cause more problems down the line), here are three ways to get around the problem by including them in the package, even if they’re sitting completely on the pasteboard:

  1. Embed the files in the layout. You can shift-click all the links showing a PB in the Links palette (Command or Ctrl-click for noncontiguous entries) and choose Embed from the Links palette menu. That tells InDesign to suck in the code for the native files into its own code for the layout file. Doing so increases the size of the layout file, of course, and may cause problems for a print vendor. So it’s probably not the best choice.
  2. Increase the size of the Slug area. Suggested by a clever user on the Adobe forums, you can go to File > Document Set-up, click More Options, and increase the Slug area on all four sides as much as possible. As long as pasteboard items are at least partially within the slug area, they’ll get included in the Package file.
    In the screen shot below I’ve increased the slug to 36p (the most that InDesign would allow me) on all four sides. Since the Ducky and the Eagle both fall at least partially within the slug area, the Package command includes their native files in the Links folder it creates. The third image upper right doesn’t even touch the slug are, so it’s not included.
    images in slug area
    If you use this method you should zoom way out so you can make sure all your pasteboard images lie partially or completely within the slug area before you run the Package command.
  3. Copy them yourself semi-manually. Run the regular Package command first, then close the current InDesign document and open the one in the Package folder. In that layout’s Links palette, select all the links showing a PB choose Copy To from the Links palette menu.
    Copying links manually
    In the resulting dialog box, select the Links folder in the Package folder. InDesign copies over the native files to the Package’s Links folder and updates the layout’s links to them at the same time.
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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6 Comments on “Packaging Graphics on the Pasteboard

  1. Hi,
    Do you know if there is a way to modify the preferences of the preflight command in InDesign? I couln’t find it…..

  2. Anne-Marie,

    Many PageMaker users pine for the days when the whole document shared the same pasteboard. There’s an on-going topic in the Feature Requests forum for InDesign on the U2U forum where the suggestion was made that a feature be added where you could click a button or opeate a menu item to move all pasteboard items to the current spread.

    Well, what are scripts for but adding such arcane features? So, I started thinking about the topic on my blog here:

    I’d welcome any input on the questions I raised plus any other issues people might think of.


  3. What other issues would cause the package copy of the Indesign file to be larger or smaller in size?
    My original was 10,936 kb and the copy was 8572 kb. There is nothing located in the pasteboard area. What did package remove or change?

  4. @Tanna: I would suggest posting something on the forums (see “Forums” above), so that many more people will see your question. Include details like what version, and — most importantly — what is happening when you try to package.

  5. InDesign has been out for nearly two decades. Why hasn’t Adobe put a checkbox in the Package dialog boxes for “Including Pasteboard Objects in Package”?

    I generally use the “Package” command to archive my work after I have sent the PDF to the printer, so having all those extras I didn’t want to delete during the layout process are useful to me on the next issue.

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