How to export a 5 color doc to print in pdf export from indesign- . Its CMYK plus one pantone special ink. should i select 'no color conversion' or 'convert to CMYK' and expect my spot color to maintain spot colour status ? Thanks

2 Answers 2


If you need to convert to CMYK or not depends on whether you have RGB (or Lab) images and objects that needs to be converted to CMYK. The Color Conversion setting won't affect spot colors.

Choosing a Standard won't convert spot to CMYK either.

What does affect spot colors is if you enter Ink Manager and tick on All Spots to Process.

But you don't have to just "expect" your spot color to maintain spot color status. Open the exported PDF in Adobe Acrobat and open the Output Preview window. The spot color should appear in the list of inks. You can try to toggle it to see if everything is as expected.

  • Thank you thats so helpful, I never know about the output preview window!I only ever tried to check with the preflight tab, Tracy
    – Tracy
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 21:47
  • You're welcome! Also have a look at a similar panel in InDesign: Separations Preview.
    – Wolff
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 14:47
  • I do this with extreme regularity... PDF/X-1a is all that's necessary.. Spots are maintained.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 10:20

Use the "PDF/X-1a:2001" preset and you should be fine.

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  • No. That profile will convert other color models to CMYK.
    – Rafael
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 7:14
  • 1
    Actually Rafael, its a clear yes. I just checked to make sure, exporting with the "PDF/X-1a:2001" will keep spot colors in the PDF.
    – Lucian
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 10:37
  • Nice. I still need to see the spec, to read if it leaves the door open for implementations.
    – Rafael
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 20:57

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