Using InDesign CS6, I regularly create booklets of anywhere from 8, 12, 16 to 32 pages for offset printing.

For this I typically use the Print Booklet module, set to create a PDF file at Press Resolution.

Occasionally I have a single or double-sided insert for which I generate a separate PDF, using the Export to PDF module, with the same Press Resolution setting. I noticed that these 'single page' PDFs look markedly different than the PDFs created with the Print Booklet function - which are far superior in terms of contrast.

To make things even stranger, the Print Booklet function generates files that are significantly smaller than the Export function PDF files.

My workaround has been to create a 4-page "booklet" with the same material on each of the pages, and then delete the superfluous pages from this booklet. This does not make any sense.

Any suggestions, anybody?

2 Answers 2



All you need to do to get your desired PDF is to File > Print your insert from InDesign, and select Adobe PDF as the printer the same way you're doing in the Print Booklet window. This should create a PDF of the same quality/contrast/size you're used to seeing from the Print Booklet method.
For the most accurate output though, I think you may want to continue using File > Export instead to create your PDF though - but any difference in the final printed output may be negligible. Read on if you'd like to know why, or at least why I think so.

Why it Happens

Someone with a press background will likely be able to give a more accurate answer, but in case they aren't around, hopefully this can provide some assistance.
When using File > Export to create a PDF, InDesign writes the vector shapes, fonts, characters, and raster artwork directly to a PDF according to your specified PDF settings.
When using File > Print Booklet or even File > Print and selecting Adobe PDF as the printer, even though a PDF file is the destination, InDesign is outputting everything as it would to a printer (PostScript language?), and then Adobe Distiller is converting that printer language output in to a PDF file according to some PPD (PostScript Printer Description) file definition.

I may be mistaken, but I believe the File > Export method provides the most accurate output as a PDF file. Here is a comparison of two raster images zoomed at 1200% in a PDF outputted by the File > Print > Adobe PDF (left) setting vs File > Export > Adobe PDF (right). Compare raster in PS vs PDF
Additionally, process colors seem to be routed through some conversion process when using the File > Print > Adobe PDF method. Here is the color swatch as defined in InDesign: Color Defined
When viewing separations in Acrobat, the PDF output by Export has the same process color values: Color Exported
But when Printed to a PDF, the process values are slightly changed: Color Printed

This is all based on my experience though, and not on any credible training. I may be completely wrong about all of it.


apex is about 99% there at the answer. the Distiller settings are making the difference you see. the different presets will change the colors depending on output. they'll lower the amount of ink for papers like newsprint vs coated and whatnot. with export you can choose the Distiller preset, where as with print booklet, you can't.

but best way to deal with the color shift, in my experience, is in the print/export setting, play around with them if time permits. i suggest that you DON'T let indesign determine colors.

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