InDesign CS5 PDF Export Woes: PDF(Interactive) vs Facing Pages

**EDIT: CS6 To the rescue! The CS6 Interactive PDF Export offers a Pages or Spreads selection option. Hallelujah!**

I have a 500 page InDesign file that I made in CS4 that is intended to be both printed and used in Acrobat with interactive features, including hyperlinks, bookmarks, and buttons. In CS4 I was able to export print and interactive versions of it perfectly. However, CS5’s new PDF export is split into different dialogs for print and interactive, and neither one of them provides the necessary functionality.

CS5’s PDF(print) export dialog allows bookmarks and hyperlinks, but does not allow buttons to function (it has options to either exclude them or include their appearance only).

CS5’s PDF(interactive) export always exports your document as spreads if you have facing pages turned on! After searching around I found a script on that can turn off the export as spreads, so that the PDF(interactive) export will create single pages for a facing pages layout. However, I discovered something that is not documented on InDesignSecrets, or anywhere else that I could find:

If you use the script to turn off the export as spreads feature then ALL BUTTONS DISAPPEAR FROM THE EXPORTED PDF!

I tested this in a simple new InDesign document after resetting my preferences just to be sure. I’ve also tested it in CS 5.5 with the same results. If you have any buttons in your file and you export using PDF(Interactive) after using the script to disable the export as spreads option, your buttons will not be included in the PDF. Use the script to turn spreads back on, and the buttons reappear.

So the only option now is to make two versions of the file. The online version will have facing pages turned off and I”ll make an updated master page for it that is the same on every page. The print version will be in facing pages.

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6 Responses to InDesign CS5 PDF Export Woes: PDF(Interactive) vs Facing Pages

  1. Paul Erdman May 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    FOLLOW-UP: I made a copy of the file and used my own method to split it to single pages, which only took me about half an hour. It just frustrates me that this step now has to be taken, whereas it worked perfectly in CS4. It took me 1.5 hours to troubleshoot the PDF export problem and get to the bottom of it before I decided to just make another copy of the file and break it apart.

    If anyone is interested, this is what I did to make a single pages version of my 500 page document with new headers/footers and centered page margins in only 30 minutes:

    1. Turned on Layout Adjustment (in the layout menu) as I would be changing margins and I wanted the content to move when I changed them.

    2. Changed the document to single rather than facing pages.

    3. Changed my margins on my main master page so that the content is centered on the page but the text block is exactly the same width so that no text reflow occurs. I only have a few master pages, because I use text variables to display most of my headers/footers. Also, all of my master pages are based on a main master that controls basic placement of headers and the margins, so I only had to change margins once and the entire document updated (Granted, InDesign crashed the first time I tried to do this!)

    4. Redid the header/footers of my master pages so that they display all relevant header/footer information all on a single page rather than across a spread. Since I use text variables to display most of the information in my header/footer, I only had 2 master pages to worry about.

    Of course, the inevitable happened. The client came back with a list of last minute changes, and I had to go through BOTH DOCUMENTS and make every change TWICE :-/ Hopefully by the time I have to update this file for 2013-2014 this problem will be fixed so I can go back to just using the same file for both print and PDF!

  2. Deborah Bzdyl September 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    When I export pages of a magazine as an interactive PDF with forward and back buttons at the bottom, the PDF shows the pages in SPREADS even though I have selected “single pages” in the setup box. If I change the magazine document to single pages in the doc. setup, I get single pages in the PDF BUT I lose all the elements that were once on the facing page — in this case the BACK button. Plus the page numbers & headers are on the wrong side of the odd #’ed pages. I need all pages as SINGLE pages but with BOTH the Forward & Back buttons showing. I was able to do this easily in the older version of InDesign. What happened?? How can I get a 36-page magazine to show up as single pages with both the forward & the back button on each page?

    • Paul Erdman September 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      Deborah,I might need some clarification, but let me respond generally. If you export the PDF using PDF(print), you should be able to get your single pages, but then your buttons will not work. If you export using PDF(interactive), your buttons will work, but your facing pages will export as spreads, and there is no option in the interactive export to choose “single pages.” This certainly is very frustrating; CS5s split PDF export has caused no end of headaches.

      Many of us like you have had to make alternate versions of our documents for online use that turn off facing pages. It’s not a simple thing; turning off facing pages will cause major layout changes to your document. Because of this, I end up finishing the print version of my layout, then once it’s completely finished I make a copy of my file and convert it into the online version. It is very frustrating to me that this is necessary, because in CS4 I did not have to do this. However, it is true that for online use the document does look better centered margins, with the page numbers not switching from side to side ever other page, etc.

      When you turn off facing pages, all your pages will revert to use only the left page of your master spread(s). I’m guessing that all the items that are disappearing from your layout are on the righthand master page, but I can’t be sure without clarification from you. If this is the case, it makes total sense, because your non-facing pages layout can only use the left page of your original two-page master spread. What I usually do is I redesign my master page for the online version of the document to be a single page on which all necessary items appear, rather than alternating every other page as would be done in a book with facing pages. I hope this makes sense to you — a single master page with all navigation, not a left and right master page, made exclusively for the online version of the document. The print version (if you need one) would be preserved in a separate document.

      If my explanation does not adequately answer your question, feel free to contact me.

  3. Gavin Anderson July 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Someone has made a really good Script work-around for this, which allows you to keep it all in one document, but allows you to toggle whether InDesign exports Interactive PDFs in spreads or not.

    Here is a link to the conversation over on


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