How Do You Open a PDF in InDesign?

By Chad Davis

Importing PDF files into your InDesign documents enables you to build on existing documents or graphics. InDesign provides you with advanced import options that specify how to display PDF files you place in your document. You can also export your design projects from InDesign into an Adobe PDF file to share with friends or coworkers. While Adobe InDesign CC doesn't support directly editing an imported PDF file, you can import a PDF page into your document using the "Place" command.

Resize Your Document

Resizing your InDesign document to match the dimensions of your PDF file helps fit the PDF file on the page. When you create a new InDesign document, you can adjust the dimensions in the "Page Size" group of the New Document dialog. For example, select "Letter" from the Page Size drop-down to create a standard letter-sized document at 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. Click "File" and then "Document Setup" to adjust the page size for a document that you've already created.

Place a PDF FIle

Most file types you import into InDesign are handled as graphics. While you can manipulate the imported PDF file as you would an image, you cannot edit a PDF file in InDesign. To import a graphic, click "File" and then "Place…" Select the PDF file you want to import and then click the "Open" button. After the import progress bar completes, your cursor changes to the loaded graphics icon with a preview of your PDF file. Click on your document to place the page. Click and drag to move the graphic to fit within the frame of your page.

Import Options

In the Place dialog, select your file, select "Show Import Options" and then click "Open." You can adjust how your PDF file is imported using this dialog. Specify a page or page range in the Pages group. Select cropping options using the "Crop To" drop-down in the Options group. For example, select "Media" to crop the PDF to its original paper size, such as Letter. If your PDF file contains layers, you can select which layers to include using the "Layers" tab. Click "OK" and then click on your document to place your file.

Export to a PDF File

To export your InDesign document to a PDF file for redistribution, click "File" and then "Export…" Select "Adobe PDF (Print)" from the "Save as Type" drop-down and then click "Save." The General pane includes options to specify pages, layers and interactive elements to export. For example, check the "Hyperlinks" box to include clickable links in your PDF. Specify the quality preset using the "Adobe PDF Preset" drop-down. Selecting "High Quality Print" creates a larger file with a the highest quality. Click "Export" to finish exporting your file.

Considerations and Limitations

When you import PDF files into InDesign using the "Place" command, the original file is linked to the file you import. Changes to the original file update your imported graphic in InDesign. You cannot edit a PDF page in InDesign; however, your PDF's original graphics, layout and typography are preserved. Importing or exporting large documents can take some time depending on their compression settings and your PC's processing speed. Some third-party tools are also available to help you edit PDF files in InDesign, including PDF2ID, and PDF2DTP (links in Resources).