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Tip of the Week: Using SVG Images in InDesign

This InDesign tip on Using SVG Images in InDesign was sent to Tip of the Week email subscribers on May 3, 2018.

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Got an SVG graphic that you’d like to use in InDesign? At first, it might seem like you’re out of luck, since InDesign doesn’t play well with SVG. It can’t place SVG files directly, and it lost the ability to export to SVG in CS6.

But there is a quick workaround: that amazing InDesign “plug-in” called Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator can open, edit, and save SVG files, so all you have to do is open the graphic in Illustrator…

SVG graphic in Adobe Illustrator

Then copy and paste it into InDesign. The graphic will come in as live vector objects that you can edit, recolor, resize, etc.

SVG graphic pasted into InDesign as a vector object

Pretty simple, right? Well, there are a couple things to watch out for.

First, make sure that the objects you’re copying have a stroke or fill applied in Illustrator, otherwise you won’t be able to paste them into InDesign.

InDesign pasted graphic error message

Second, since SVG images are composed of XML code, they can also be opened as text files. So if you happen to have your cursor in a text frame when you copy/paste an SVG graphic from Illustrator, it comes in as text and not a vector object.

SVG code pasted into InDesign

Even worse, if you Undo, switch to the Selection tool, and try pasting again, InDesign still thinks you want the text.

At this point, you have to go back to Illustrator and copy the object again to be able to paste it into InDesign.

There is a preference in Illustrator that you can set to have it ignore the code. Go to Preferences > File Handling & Clipboard, and deselect Include SVG Code On Copy.

Illustrator SVG code clipboard preference

But I wouldn’t recommend doing that in most cases, since without the code, if you paste into InDesign, you just get an uneditable low-res embedded raster version of the graphic.

Yuck.

Alternatively, you could do a Save As in Illustrator and change the format to AI, to give yourself the ability to place the file as a linked vector graphic, with all the wholesome goodness thereof.

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of InDesignSecrets.com, InDesign Magazine, and CreativePro.com. Author of lynda.com courses on InDesign and Illustrator. Husband. Dad. Dog walker.
Mike Rankin

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6 Comments on “Tip of the Week: Using SVG Images in InDesign

  1. Thank you for this article. But if I export to epub at indesign , svg convert to images not code.

    • … Loic, I *have* been thinking about that a couple of times. Would it be worth a serious attempt? Most of the fancy filters would not work, and neither would embedded bitmaps and fonts (and probably lots of other edge cases as well – enough to fear a long list of laments that “it does not work” …).

      • Yeah, things seem so simple at first sometimes and then reveal their true nature.

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