Why are imported PDFs blurry in InDesign?

I’m creating a magazine in Indesign and have pdf ads that I imported and placed all throughout the magazine. The pdf ads are crisp and clear in their original format, but when I place them in Indesign, they’re super blurry. I tried converting the pdf ads to a bunch of different formats (jpeg’s, png’s, etc), then placed them in Indesign. This reduces some of the blurriness, but when printed, they are still unreadable.

Just to show you what I mean, here’s an ss of a pdf in Adobe Reader:

pdf in adobe reader

and here’s how it appears in InDesign:


Both are at 100%.

Do you have any idea why I’m having this problem, and how I might be able to fix it?


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

Make certain View > Display Performance is set to Highest Quality.

There is also an Object Level display, Object > Display Performance.

The View Display performance should, by default, override the object level setting.

This setting allows imported images to be displayed at a lower quality in order to speed up things like panning, zooming, and general screen redraw. However, upon output the imported images will be output at their proper resolution. In other words, the display performance settings have nothing to with document output, only the document preview.

Method 2

thebodzio’s and Scott’s answers are correct, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the same thing.

If and when you are working with hundreds of pages, it can really pay off to have it set as Typical display. If you feel like highest setting has no effect in the performance, then go for it, but personally I keep it set as ‘typical display’ at all times. I don’t need to see the images all crisp and clear all the time.

What I use myself is a hotkey for Overprint preview: Cmd + Alt + Shift + Y – This hotkey toggles the overprint preview on and off, which among other things, makes images show up all crisp and clear.

Overprint preview hotkey accompanied with the hotkey for preview: W, are both ones that rank really high as my ‘most used hotkeys in indesign’.

Method 3

This is quite natural. Your PDF is all right – it’s just that InDesign displays it that way. It does so because it needs to save some memory. What you see is only a “preview” of your PDF. You can change “quality” of this preview using e.g. one of “Object -> Display Performance” options. Try to change it to “High Quality” – you should be able to notice the difference easily in both quality and application “speed” ;). When exported to PDF or printed placed PDF should be as clear as the one on the first screenshot.

If I missed something in your question, please let me know – I want to delete this answer if it’s irrelevant.

Method 4

Your PDF needs to be linked – you cannot copy and paste it into your ID document. Go to the “links” panel and make sure that the PDF resides on your computer/network, and you are linked to it. PDFs that are “unlinked” will be blurry.

All methods was sourced from stackoverflow.com or stackexchange.com, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x