Basically, I had a client who wanted a 1 meter by 2 meter poster to advertise his business at local football events and such.

Though I'm predominantly a web-designer, I thought myself up to the challenge of print. I designed the proof in Photoshop, and that was all good.

I then exported it to pdf with Indesign, and the resulting pdf was 142.3Mb! Way too big to email, and way too big for any printer website's upload form.

In the end, I made a public directory in my website and FTP'd my giant pdf there. I told the client to link the printer to the link.

Is this the way to go? If I'd done this in Indesign, it would be vector based, but a much more manageable size. I mean, it takes around 10 minutes to download the pdf, and linking the printer to an image seems unorthodox.

Is this the way to do it for large files?

  • Is Illustrator an option or do you only have Photoshop and Indesign?
    – JohnB
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:16
  • Did you flatten the image before saving as PDF? I'm assuming you've got the proper ppi settings for print, right?
    – Scott
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:21
  • @John I have illustrator
    – Starkers
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:23
  • @Scott, do you mean flatten the image in Photoshop before importing into InDesign? And yes, 300ppi
    – Starkers
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:23
  • 1
    I highly recommend that you talk to the folks that are going to print it, they will let you know what format they need it in. In general for photographic printing I output everything in sRGB JPG because that is what my printing house requires. For other printing houses I may give them a CMYK EPS or a PDF. Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


Which program? Print is usually done in InDesign. Simply because it's easy to set up final print files that fit most print shops requirements. Plus, the text tools are superior to Photoshop and Illustrator. But, depending on the design requirements, it can be necessary to do it in another program. I have done a Poster in Photoshop myself, purely because of the heavy usage of brushes over over text. Knowing the dpi before you start can save you a lot of trouble. 300 is a bit of an overkill at that size.

The final file: This depends on the print shop, like others have said. I have often encountered that to be PDF/X-1a:2001, but that is anecdotal. Keep in mind that it is OK to do e.g. 95% of the poster in Photoshop and then do additional things like sponsor logos in InDesign. There you can also set up the proper bleed and crop marks (if needed).

Handing over the file: Public FTP is not the best workflow. If it's a small company it probably doesn't matter. Handing over a link to a FTP along with username and password for that directory is maybe the better choice though. 142.3Mb isn't that much.


When designing for large format printing it is a good idea to do as much in a vector package as possible such as InDesign or Illustrator. this will allow text and edges to stay sharp.

Large format printing (generally) does not require as high a resolution as lithography as your eyes are further away from a 1m x 2m design than you would with say a magazine, so it is acceptable to create the design at 50% of the size. this will save you both file size and memory usage when creating and saving the file.

PDF is the correct way to send any file to any printer as long as you flatten all the artwork before sending and preflight the PDF.

Hope this helps.


I have some experience with this since I worked for a printing company for a number of years.

One thing I had to get used to was the fact that you do not need super high DPI images when printing larger format graphics.

For the piece you are making you can absolutely get away with 200 dpi or even 150. If you are saving a pdf make sure you set image compression to JPG with the highest quality.

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