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Link and Embed Images in InDesign CS5 Documents

You can either link or embed images that you import into your InDesign Creative Suite 5 documents. When to link and when to embed is important to understand before importing an image.

Here’s the difference between linking and embedding:

  • Linking: The image that appears in the InDesign document is a preview of the image stored somewhere else on your computer or network. If the file you linked to your InDesign document is changed, it must be updated.

  • Embedding: The image is copied into and saved within the InDesign document itself. It doesn’t matter where the original file is located or whether you alter the file, because an embedded image is copied and saved directly within the InDesign document.

When you print or export a document, InDesign uses the linked images to generate the information necessary to create a high-quality printed document, a PDF file, or an image for posting on the web. InDesign keeps track of linked files and alerts you if any of them is moved or changed.

You can update links for an image by selecting the image in the Links panel and choosing Update Link or Relink from the Links panel menu. You’re prompted to find that file on your hard drive so that the file can be linked to the new location. And, if you send your InDesign file to someone else, make sure to also send its linked files along with the document.

If you choose to embed images rather than link to images, your publication’s file size increases because of the extra data that’s being stored within it.

To find out which files are embedded or linked, look at the Links panel. Choose Window→Links to open the panel and see whether any linked or embedded images are listed in the panel.

You can choose to embed a file by using the Links panel menu. Click the triangle in the upper right corner to access the panel menu and select Embed Link if you want a linked file to be embedded within the document.

Alternatively, choose Unembed Link from the Link panel menu to link a file rather than have it embedded in the document. We recommend linking to all images so that your files don’t become too large and because it provides you with flexibility to manipulate the image files separately.

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