So I'm just starting to learn Adobe InDesign. The tutorials tell me to prepare my images and convert them from RGB to CMYK for print..

Now, I like to do rapid development and I kinda don't like spending too much time in preparations, i even usually just copy+paste images from one program to another (fireworks mostly).

Anywho, my question is that, can I not just design in InDesign without regard for Color profile... (rapid layout). Then when I'm ready to print, i'll just export to PNG/JPG, and convert the image from RGB to CMYK, then PRINT (?)

Is this alright to do?


  • 99% of end user inkjet printers want RGB color data, not CMYK.
    – Scott
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 1:37
  • thanks for that .. good to know. that's actually why i wanted to do things this way, simplify my process.. just edit/design using Fireworks (RGB) and then convert to CMYK only when needed.
    – BrownChiLD
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


You can't really design anything "without regard for color profile" unless you don't care how the colors reproduce. Color profiles are essential to maintaining consistent and accurate output. That said, color space (RGB, CMYK, Lab or a combination) is not important in modern press workflows.

InDesign recognizes the color profiles of all placed images (sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, etc.). When you export to PDF (never PNG or JPG if you're going to press -- never, ever), InDesign uses exactly the same code as Photoshop to convert RGB images to the output color space and color profile, if you output to a legacy PDF format.

That's why there is no need to convert images to CMYK before placing them in an InDesign layout. It doesn't do any harm, most of the time, but there are no advantages. Converting RGB images to CMYK adds time and two extra opportunities for error: updates to the RGB image not being kept in sync with the CMYK version, and loss of color gamut if you use the wrong CMYK color profile in the conversion.

The most modern RIPs (software that performs color separation and rasterization of artwork for negatives or printing plates) use PDF/X-4 or /X-5, which allow for live transparency, RGB images and CMYK illustrations/text. With these workflows, every element in the layout must be tagged with a color profile, since the conversion is done in the RIP, not in creating the PDF. (This kind of profile-tagged PDF is more common in Europe, where color accuracy seems to matter more than here in the US.)

Finally, to take up your mention of jpeg and png:

  • There is no such thing as a CMYK PNG. PNG is a format created explicitly for the web, and a PNG file doesn't even contain metadata to indicate its color profile, since that is assumed to be sRGB, the web standard.

  • Neither jpg nor png are suitable as output to send to press, because all vector information (such as text) is rasterized at whatever output resolution is specified, usually 300 ppi. That's not nearly good enough for press. Live text and vector information is rasterized at 2400 to 2800 dpi in a printing plant's RIP. Even a desktop printer has better resolution than 300 dpi, so you would be reducing the quality of your output to no good purpose.

  • Neither jpeg nor png can contain spot (e.g. Pantone solid) colors.

If you want to print your InDesign layout to a desktop printer, print it directly from InDesign, or export to PDF and print that. Your desktop rpinter is an RGB device, so all colors will be converted to RGB in that workflow.

  • man i can't thank you enough.. you've bumped my progress forward significantly! PS. Actually, another reason I had in mind for converting JPG to CMYK is, honestly, I design really fast on ADobe Fireworks and have design lots of brochures, business cards, etc for print.. i kinda perfected the sizing and stuff from the program itself. Printing to Desktop printers are OK but when i send to Printing Press they don't come out right..hence what if i just go ahead do my designs in Fireworks (faster for me) and then just CMYK - it.
    – BrownChiLD
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 2:05
  • You're welcome. That's what we're here for... :) Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 22:27

Your average desktop printer can print an image at 600DPI. A good quality photo printer usually prints at 1200DPI and machines like the Indigo Digital Press print with a resolution of 2400DPI.

To make the most of these high resolutions, it makes sense trying to keep as much of your layout in a vector based format. This is the reason that .PDF files are the industry standard.

I would recommend that you follow the correct workflow and convert images to CMYK before your final pre-flight when you send the files for print.

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