My Indesign Linked Images Look Blurry

Written by elizabeth mott
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Regardless of how thoroughly you plan your Adobe InDesign page layout and how fully you've developed the creative vision underlying your project, you still want a clear view of your pages while you're working so you can evaluate your progress. Once you see how your design looks on your monitor, in a review PDF or on a test printout, you may formulate new ideas for some pages or page elements. If your linked images look blurry, their appearance can distract you from your work. You can explore several troubleshooting options to diagnose the cause of your problem.

Blurry Visuals

Every troubleshooting workflow should start with the most obvious possible causes before looking for exotic ones. Start your search for the reason your images look blurry by looking at your images themselves. Perhaps you received a large set of photos, all taken in quick succession, of a fast-moving subject -- an athlete, a high-powered car or a bird, for example. Did you link to a shot with the subject in focus or accidentally choose one that the photographer shouldn't have sent you? Did you link to a low-resolution version of the image you intended to use? If necessary, go back to Adobe Photoshop and examine the file closely to make sure your image itself isn't the culprit.

Low-Resolution PDF

When you build PDF files for review and approval, you probably don't export your high-resolution files at full resolution. Particularly in a multipage layout with large numbers of images, the result would be a huge PDF, too large to scroll through quickly and certainly too big to e-mail. Once printed, however, that same review file can't do your images justice. If some of your reviewers contact you in alarm over the blurry images they've printed, you can reassure them quickly that the final project file won't suffer from the same problem.

Onscreen Issues

Your Adobe InDesign preferences control whether InDesign serves up a reduced-resolution preview on your monitor or takes the time to show you the full impact of your photos. With high-resolution previews enabled, even a powerful computer may labour under the overhead of a long document with large images. If you set your InDesign preferences to allow you to override screen display on an image-specific basis, you can tell the program to show you the full-resolution version of an image you're trying to evaluate. You also should take into consideration the fact that image display isn't always crystal clear at odd zoom levels and choose an actual-pixels zoom for critical image review.

File Preparation

If you've scaled your bitmapped images in your Adobe InDesign layout and haven't linked to production-sized versions that you've sharpened for reproduction in Adobe Photoshop, your visuals may not look their best. Even a crisply focused digital photograph needs some form of sharpening to reproduce properly, and any file that you've scaled needs attention as well. Consider building at-size bitmaps for another reason besides image quality: your InDesign file size will drop considerably when you don't scale bitmaps in your layout.

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