File Handling Practices & Folder Structure
(Print & Prepress Production class notes with permission from Brooke Allen at Emily Carr University of Art + Design).
Brooke’s helpful notes and examples can be found here
Most of us are guilty for one-time-or-another having badly organized files. This can cause major issues for students learning how to work with InDesign. Whenever you start an InDesign project it is EXTREMELY important to adhere to a file organization structure like the following:
This means at the very least you should put all images used or placed into InDesign an images folder, and consider keeping your fonts in the fonts folder, nested inside the main project folder. Also use smart naming conventions for file retrieval. This means you should be specific with file naming so you don’t edit, delete or move the wrong files in future. Using version numbering is also good practice.
Why you say? Why should I bother being so organized?
If you ever plan on moving your InDesign files, backing them up onto a hard drive or moving them to another computer and you’ve placed image into them from various locations on your hard drive… you’re going to have problems. This is because InDesign functions by linking files much the way a web page would. The linked files do not LIVE inside InDesign, they are not fully embedded, instead they continue to reside in the original location on your hard drive. So if you include a file from “Documents/My Documents” on ‘Computer A’, then you move the InDesign file to ‘Computer B’, it will still look for your image file in the “Documents/My Documents” directory of ‘Computer B’. Obviously the file won’t be there, and you will receive errors when opening on ‘Computer B’ in InDesign. The way around this is to use the file structure shown above, then when you migrate the folder, everything is where it should be.
It is equally important to organize your images with clear labels for different print destinations.