This page discusses common printing issues in unique setting of the UW's general-access labs, as well as troubleshooting techniques. Adobe products are unfortunately particularly prone to having problems printing.
Sometimes an InDesign document will not print correctly due to some (usually bizarre and unknown) PostScript error that no one really understands. Quite often the best way to solve a printing problem is to just change platforms; though doing so may seem mysterious and quirky, moving from a PC to a Mac or vice versa has often solved a strange printing issue. However, the best way to really solve printing problem is to convert your InDesign document to a PDF file, because PDFs play nicer with our printers than InDesign's default format. In effect, a PDF is an "image" of your document that lacks many of the quirks of your actual document. For instructions on creating a PDF file keep reading.
Converting a File to PDF
What is a PDF?
The Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) is a standard for the electronic distribution and viewing of documents. The format preserves the layout, typography, and images created in most applications.
Exporting an InDesign Document to a PDF
Exporting a document to a PDF is as simple as using the default [Press] settings in the Export dialog, but the process customized as your needs dictate. InDesign remembers your PDF export settings, and will apply them to every new document until you change them again (to quickly apply custom export settings without changing the default settings, you can use styles). You can export a whole document or just portions of a document as a single PDF file.
To export an open document to PDF:
- Choose File > Export.
- In the Save as Type (Windows) or Formats (Mac OS) menu, choose Adobe PDF. Set a filename, choose a location for the new PDF file, and click Save.
- To see or modify the existing settings, click on the panel names on the left side of the Export PDF dialog.
- Click Export.
If Exporting Doesn't Work
However, sometimes exporting to a PDF directly from InDesign fails. In that case, you can still create a PDF of your document indirectly. Go to File > Print and click on the Options button. Check the Write PostScript to File checkbox, and click on Save. Doing so creates a PostScript (PS) file that Adobe Distiller can then process to create a PDF file.
PS documents occasionally have problems with certain fonts; to ensure that you can create workable PS documents, you may want to limit the types of fonts that InDesign passes to the PS file. Unfortunately, doing so will probably limit the fonts used in your document, but in the interest of making the publication printable, it may be necessary.
InDesign also has a built-in exporting application that will export an InDesign file into a PDF; however, this function seems to only work on PCs, and is no more or less reliable than the procedure described above. To use this method, however, go to File > Export > Adobe PDF.