Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am making a billboard with this dimensions : 2.19m x 6.09m However, indesign's maximum document size is 5486.4 mm (5.48m)

How do I increase this document size or is the another way to handle this problem?

share|improve this question
What stops you from doing everything in 1:10 scale? –  Mr.Wizard Dec 7 '11 at 0:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

You should be talking to your billboard company or at least working from the information on their website. That's the short and critically important answer. The rest is based on my own experience here in the US, but should apply equally to your area.

Billboards are never created at full scale in the authoring application, in my experience. For example, one size I am regularly asked for is a standard 14 foot tall x 48 foot wide (6 m x 16 m, roughly) "bulletin." These days, I work from an InDesign document that is 27 inches by 72 inches (1.8 m x .7 m, very roughly). That is 1/8th scale, which is a little large but is still quite easy to work with in InDesign. It means that my effective image resolution for images needs to be around 80 ppi or better to be sure of getting 10 ppi output, and I don't need to worry about the text or other vector data. (That "10 ppi" is not a typo. It's quite high resolution for a billboard of that size, which is viewed from a minimum distance of 50 m. The billboard company spec in this case is 9 ppi.)

Billboards are commonly done in Photoshop -- that's how I used to do them prior to CS5 -- but always small scale at high resolution. 1/48th scale, even 1/96th scale, at 300 ppi is not uncommon. Companies and products vary. The billboard company I mentioned suggests 1/33th scale at 300 ppi for one of their products, to meet that target resolution of 9 ppi.

The final resolution on the vinyl is typically between 8 and 25 dots per inch, depending on the size and intended viewing distance, so there is no reason at all to work at full scale and 300 ppi, even if you could. You would end up with an enormous file that would be mostly wasted, and might not even be usable by the RIP ("Raster Image Processor" -- the software that processes your file for printing).

The provider will scale your PDF to the final size. Ask them what they need. When you do, have them send you their PDF .joboptions file and the color profile for their digital printing equipment. That way, the colors you see in InDesign will match what actually goes up on the billboard.

Don't feel like you are going to look naive or foolish by asking. The first time I sent artwork to one national billboard company, I got an immediate phone call back. They were excited and astonished because it was the first time they had ever received artwork from an outside designer that they didn't have to fix or send back for correction. This company is all over the US and has been in business for decades. All I did was research their requirements on their website and follow a template that they supplied. That, apparently, was enough to make me a hero.

So you won't seem foolish if you ask. You'll be a hero. Trust me.

share|improve this answer
thank you Alan for this clear and usefull explication! –  Joost Dec 7 '11 at 10:31
I can attest to this from the perspective of a former artworker that used to pre-press lots of large and grand scale jobs: it would make my day when a client would actually ask for origination instructions. It was the difference between a three minute conversation explaining the spec versus an hour or more wrangling incorrectly supplied files. –  Dre Jan 8 at 16:15

I think you might find some plugins(on the "black market") for that... google it up till you do...but one of the best options is to create the design at a smaller size maintaining the same proportions(designing at a smaller scale in the same ratio), cause if its a billboard no one will actually look at the print close, it will be at a fair distance, so if you create it smaller and your printers fit the design to the size you want you'll lose some quality but its not a big issue if the eye sees it from a distance(more than a few meters). No one sees details of a few blurry stuff. The best thing is to ask were you will print this thing, how should you proceed, I'm almost sure you don't have to create the thing at actual size, and I think the reason why InDesign(and Illustrator) have these limitations is because the file will crash your computer... mine crashes a lot if I design A1 posters at 600 dpi... but I dont have some NASA hardware.. .maybe your lucky.

An alternative would be to use Photoshop, you can create pretty big files there, but I must warn you a 700cm x 700cm at 300dpi is 19GB in size... so you might also need to buy an external hard drive to take the thing to the printers :P .

A very good article about your problem: http://creativecurio.com/2008/03/printing-large-format/

Read this, try to contact some of the guys there, they know what to do for sure:


Good luck!

share|improve this answer

As simple answer would be, multiply your image to fit in the Indesign maximum limit size. If your doing an all text file there will be no problem, but if your doing some images there might be problem when you save the file, the system may tell you that the image is too big or you do not have enough space or scratch disk if full etc.... In most of the printing company here in the Philippines requires jpeg, pdf, or tiff format for billboards. 1st embed the link (images) 2nd convert your file in the desire format in a smaller resolution e.g. 100, 75 or 50. if you do there should be no problem but remember the file is multiple by its proportional size to the actual size.

Another thing, in doing most billboards artist use Photoshop rather than Indesign, and in very smaller resolution and same as Indesign multiply by its actual size. Indesign is best for publication or smaller collateral like flyer, brochure, menu and so on.

I hope you fine this useful to you and to others with the same question. thank you.

share|improve this answer

Hi I worked for 13 years at Primedia Outdoor, a South African Media owner specialising in billboards and bus shelter advertising. Our printers used to have a simple rule: Supply artwork at 10% of full size at 300dpi. (similar to answers given above) Regards.

share|improve this answer

Where i work here ( my first real job ) i create graphics for billboards and others. And we print it on a Roland SP-540i. Depending on graphic i might print in CMYK or RGB. Why ? Because some colors are printed better in rgb format and others look good in CMYK format. as for the DPI problem. We accept full sized or scale size file the only requirement we want is that we have all the assets required ( fonts etc.. ) some people don't convert to curves or flatten the image and that give's us trouble and the dpi size should go high minimum 300 dpi. For small prints we use 300 - 600 dpi, billboards depends on print size the higher the size the lower dpi we use because at some point it just can't handle it and the computer crashes even if we have good resources to work with.

My Working Profile:

  • No Color Profile, Leave it as it is 300 - 800 dpi project Real Size
  • folder with assets ( fonts, stock files, vector files, colors, etc )
  • Export: PDF, eps, psd, cdr, ai, png, jpg, tiff.
  • Provide everything needed to modify and change it anywhere. Programs Used:
  • Vector Graphics - Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator
  • Photo: Adobe Photoshop

If you have any advice or correction to how i do stuff please do so and correct me. My experience in this domain is 1year :D

share|improve this answer

protected by Matt Jan 8 at 15:19

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.