Why a PDF Portfolio?

If you've been wanting to create a PDF (portable document format) portfolio for your photos, art or design work, or wanted to create a PDF magazine that can be read by anyone on the net, then this article will show you how to go about it. 

I created my PDF portfolio just after gaining my graphic design diploma, as I wanted to be able to email potential employers samples of my work without blocking their mailboxes with hefty image files. Best of all, with a PDF uploaded to the site Issuu, anyone can read it. All you need to do is give them the URL! 

Issuu is a great site that gives life to PDF mags, allowing you to literally turn the pages. Here's an example of my portfolio there.

Step 1 Preparation

It's a good idea to always start by sketching out ideas before opening InDesign. Choose whether you want a landscape or portrait format. I prefer landscape, as I feel it tends to fill the screen better, but it's not really important. Try making a few thumbnails of page layout ideas. Working with grids is always a good idea, it makes your page layout look more professional, and saves time too. Check out The Grid System for some useful resources, if grids are new to you.

Step 2 InDesign

Open InDesign and open a new document. You'll need to choose here the size of your page. For my portfolio, I've chosen 310mm by 215mm, with the pages side by side. Don't worry about margins just yet, well get to that next. 

The image below is a screen shot from my version (French (sorry)) of InDesign. Go to the PAGES contextual menu on the top right of the screen, and select "Add templates to pages...".

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Now, choose the pages you want to apply your template to. If you have ten pages with a cover and back page, you may not want or need the template on these pages. In this case, you would enter pages 2-9. 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Now, this is where we adjust the page margins and apply them to our pages. Go to the PAGE drop-down menu (at the top this time), and click on margins and columns. I've chosen three columns, so I select Columns= 3, with a 4mm gutter, then I've entered the sizes of the margins. In this example they're: Top=14mm, Bottom=14mm, and the Sides are both 30mm. 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Step 3 Content

Now is when we add our content. I started by adding the images and let them define my page layout. 

Click on the rectangular box tool in the toolbar on the left of the screen, or simply press 'f' (in CS5). With this tool selected, click and drag a rectangle where you would like to add your image content, keeping to the columns as a guide. 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Now we import our images into this rectangle. With the rectangle selected, go to FILE, IMPORT, and then choose your image file (A useful key shortcut to save time importing images is cmd+D.)

If your image is quite large, you'll probably find that you can only see the top corner of your image. I'll explain: Think of the rectangle that we placed on our page as a short of window, and that when an image is imported inside, it's kind of 'behind' this window, only allowing a portion of the image to be seen. What we can do now is resize the image to fit the rectangle or 'window'. 

There are two ways of doing this, we can do it automatically or manually. The advantage of resizing the image manually is that we can then crop the image as we wish. We'll look at both.

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Automatic resizing (above): This small icon on the top right of the screen will make the image fit the rectangle exactly.

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Manual resizing (above): At the top of the screen, just to the left of the middle, is this icon, a kinda downward pointing arrow. When we click it, it will make the limits of our image appear (as a brown rectangle). We can now click on the corners of this brown rectangle to resize our image (holding shift whilst dragging the corners will keep the image in proportion). To get back to the 'window' click on the icon just above (the upward pointing arrow, as seen in the image below).

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Here's an image correctly resized: 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Step 4 Finishing the InDesign Document

My InDesign document now looks like this

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

I have my images and text in place. I've added my logo to each page as a finishing touch and I've created a cover and back page that contain my contact details. Now I'm ready to save this document as a PDF. 

Go to FILE, and choose "PDF export presets", and click on "Superior quality". Again, apologies for the French screen shot, but it's located in the same place on the English version. 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Choose a name for your document and save it. 

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Next step... upload your PDF to the web for all to see!

Step 5 Issuu (Uploading Your PDF to the Web)

As I mentioned at the start, Issuu is a site where you can upload and view PDf magazines. It's great, as you can flick though the pages by clicking on the corner of a pages and dragging the pages over—very cool for your portfolio or magazine.

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Just go to Issuu and create an account. Now we upload our document.

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

Fill in all the relevant info about your PDF document, and there you have it!

Here's a screen shot of my finished PDF portfolio on Issuu in full screen.

How to Create a PDF Portfolio or Magazine with InDesign and Share It Online

You can then copy and paste your document's embed code into your personal blog, website or into a Behance project. For the embed code, look on your Issuu profile page. 

Finished!

I hope that this has been of use to some of you. :) If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below or visit my Behance page.

3 Comments

Escuse Me Sir!! First Sorry for my English!!! I have a problem when i upload a document in indesign!! I prepare a document in two pages and when i upload to Issu this two pages are Four! Two for pages!! please Help Me!

Great! This is very useful. Thank you so much!

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