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Template preparation
Prepare InDesign Documents for Templates
Prepare InDesign Documents for Templates

Solve questions you might have when using InDesign files with our Digital and Print Templates product.

Updated over a week ago

Template checklist

Use our checklist to build your InDesign file step by step

Template Requirements

Keep it simple and small

Why simple is king

Generally, the Frontify Templates solution is best suited for creating less complex templates, with as little running text as possible. Why? Simply because when applying lengthy text snippets or complex imagery, you could run the risk of creating inconsistencies. Business cards, posters, or ads are better suited than flyers, brochures, or fact sheets. Text-heavy translation workflows can also prove tricky since text lengths can differ depending on the language.

Keep your InDesign package content (e.g. images) as small as possible (as big as necessary). Large files and unused elements make the templates slower, so we recommend you only add images and other links in the required sizes/quality (e.g., jpg image instead of a PSD) and remove any unnecessary elements (like master pages) from your original InDesign file.

Our Templates solution only modifies elements in the source document that have been changed. For example, if no changes are made to an element, the element in the original document remains untouched. This means that even if elements don’t look quite right while being in editing mode, they still render correctly when downloaded – because, essentially, they haven’t changed.

Top 5 tips for preparing your template

See the top 5 tips

  1. Keep the size of your InDesign package as small as possible (as big as necessary). No large images. This means no 50 MB psd files, especially not for a social media post. Remove hidden layers or master pages.

  2. Use paragraph styles and only override when necessary. If a different style is needed for a paragraph, use a character style.

  3. Make sure that text styles are set correctly, and especially check if you really want to keep hyphenation (which is usually enabled by default).

  4. Make sure that the fonts you are using are included in the InDesign package. You need static OTF or TTF fonts (no TTC, no variable fonts). Adobe fonts are not packaged and therefore don't work.

  5. Put elements that should be editable as much in the front as possible (on top of the layer list).

InDesign version >CS4

Old isn't gold

We support InDesign CS4 (where IDML was introduced) or newer. Make sure NOT to use a version between 15.0.2 and 15.1.1 (due to some InDesign bug in those versions which affect the font display in our editing mode); ideally use a current version of InDesign.

General setup of your InDesign files

Use static fonts (OTF or TTF)

Font options

Fonts need to be included in every InDesign package you upload, not just one for the whole Frontify instance, because we take the fonts from the package to use in the templates.

Only static TTF and OTF fonts are supported; other formats you need to convert before packaging (e.g., TrueType Collections (TTC) are not supported). Variable fonts are not supported; please make sure to use static fonts.

Adobe Cloud fonts are not supported because of licensing restrictions: Ensure fonts are available and not marked with square brackets, e.g., in the paragraph style settings.

Sometimes it's hard to get the right fonts into an InDesign package if you are working with an INDD file from an InDesign package that somebody else had created. If you are sure you have the correct fonts installed, try the following: Close InDesign - remove the "Documents fonts" folder from the package - open the INDD file. Then do your changes and repackage. This should help get the right fonts in.

Move editable elements to the top

Editable elements on top

Put editable elements into the foreground (as high up in the layers panel as possible), while non-editable elements should be in the background (as low in the layers panel as possible). This is due to the partial render mechanism: We try to render as many of the non-editable elements as possible in a static background image. This can help you if you have complex elements in your template that are not supported by our templating tool or are difficult to implement.

If these elements are below the first editable element, you don't have to worry about how they look in the template in editing mode, because we display them as images to the end-user (and thus they look correct to your end-users).

Remove master pages

No master to rule them all

Elements placed on master pages can’t be changed in templates or publications. Make sure to put the content you want to change on the content pages and not in the Master. Remove Master Pages.

Remove object styles

Don't use predefined object styles.

Always set object styles to "None", as information programmed into object styles will not be correctly interpreted in edit mode.

Nest/group elements only when necessary

Only nest what is necessary

Try to keep your document as simple as possible and group and nest only what needs to be grouped/nested.

Think about which elements you want the end user to edit. The less "deep" an element is nested, the easier it is for the user to get to that editable element.

Rename element names, if needed

Create nice element names

In the "Layers" list in the template and in the publication, we show default values (e.g., "image" for an image). If you want to display a custom value for it, you can manually rename the element in InDesign. Double-click the element you want to rename and add the new name.

We will then use this name in the template/publication.


Keep images as small as possible

Big is slower

Add images as big as necessary, but as small as possible. Large files make the templates slower, so we recommend you only add images and other links in the required sizes/quality (e.g., jpg image instead of a PSD, no 20MB jpg for a social media template).

Link images properly

Don't embed images, don't paste graphics

You cannot see nor replace embedded images (recognizable from the “embedded” icon in the Links palette) in editing mode. The “Replace Image” functionality will fail to replace the images in the Download. The solution is to unembed (right click on the image in the links section and then choose "Unembed Link") these images, so they appear in the "Links" folder in your InDesign package.

Embedded image

How to unembed the image

No "Pasted Graphics"

Do not use pasted graphics in your designs. Use properly placed and linked images instead, so they appear in the "Links" folder in your InDesign package.

No image transformations

Do not scale or mirror images

Transformed images (especially scaled and mirrored) might end up in the wrong position in editing mode. Additionally, if they should be replaceable by the consumer, it can be very confusing for the end users because we keep the transformations when replacing images.
The screenshot below shows two errors: not only does the image have (unnecessary) rotation and minus scaling, but the image is even slightly squeezed (visible by the fact that the X and Y scaling is not the same)

How it should not look like

How it ideally looks like

Be careful how to place images

Illustrator, Photoshop, or PDF files could be scaled incorrectly, depending on how they were placed in InDesign.

Additionally, images with applied options during the “Place…” operation (e.g., automatically cropping the background of PSD files or selecting a specific page) are not properly supported. Convert Illustrator or Photoshop files to JPGs, EPS, or PNGs whenever possible to mitigate these issues.

Remove frame fitting

No fitting magic

Additionally, “Frame Fitting Options” are not supported, and using them could result in ill-positioned images and wrong cropping. Therefore, please remove the frame fitting with "Clear Frame Fitting Options".

Use graphic frame as image placeholder (if needed)

Only a graphic is a graphic

If you want to include image placeholders (empty image frames) without an actual image (but maybe an example color), make sure to use a Graphic Rectangle (set content type via “Right-click > Content > Graphic”). Any other elements won’t be recognized as image placeholders.

Images within a polygon: correct ratio needed

Exact ratio or graphic frame for polygons

If you want to replace images in a polygon, make sure you crop them at the required ratio in the original image so that you don't apply any cropping in InDesign. This way, the crop function in our template tool works as expected.

It's also possible to use a polygon shaped graphic frame as image placeholder (see topic above).

How to handle Illustrator paths

Copy-paste from Illustrator carefully

When you place a path from Illustrator in InDesign, be sure to paste only the path itself, without a clipping path (or group). That way, the path is interpreted correctly in Edit mode.

Remove clipping path in Illustrator

Only paste the path to InDesign


Keep it simple and split text

Again: simplicity is key

Split different text styles or elements (e.g., title and subtitle) into separate text fields to be unlocked, edited, and styled independently. Because of differences in text rendering between the browser and InDesign, line breaks might end earlier or later in the text.

Try to keep text simple and avoid multiple text stylings whenever possible. Some text styles, such as super-/subscript, are not supported.

Use paragraph/character styles and don't override them

Correctly set up paragraph styles are a MUST!

Always use clean paragraph styles to style your text. Don't work with style overrides where you just override the Basic paragraph or another paragraph style. When necessary to override your paragraph styles (e.g., with a different color), do so with character styles. Again: Do not just override it manually.
Leading and font sizes can be especially tricky – make sure to have clean leadings and font sizes on your paragraph and character styles.

Paragraph and Character Styles need to be ordered by their “Based On” setting. Styles can only base on the styles listed above. If you have a style hierarchy that uses the “Based On” setting, move the most basic style to the top of the styles list.

If you have many different styles and are not sure where you have overrides, you can use the Style Override Highlighter to find them.

Justification: Word spacing 100%, Single-line Composer

No InDesign magic on paragraphs

InDesign controls the text flow in many ways that cannot be displayed by a browser. In order to achieve the closest possible representation between InDesign and the browser, InDesign magic should be removed as much as possible. For this reason, we recommend the following settings under "Justification":

  • Word Spacing of 100% as Minimum, Desired and Maximum

  • Letter Spacing 0%

  • Glyph Scaling 100%

  • Composer: Adobe Single-line Composer

Hyphenation: remove hyphenation

Don't go standard

InDesign standard is “hyphenation on.” Due to browser restrictions, the hyphenation sometimes won't be 100% the same as in InDesign. If you want to ensure that edit mode and the final output match, make sure to turn off hyphenation in your paragraph styles.

Basic Character Formats: Font Kerning - Use "Metrics"

Don't go crazy with Kerning

The browser (meaning edit mode) will always use metric kerning. If you want to ensure that edit mode and the final output match in terms of spacing, make sure to set kerning to "Metrics" in your paragraph styles.

Indents and Spacing: Text Alignment

Align with our supported alignment

In the section "Indents and Spacing" define the text alignment to Left, Center, Right or Left Justify.

We don't support alignment to a grid in paragraphs. Set it to "None".

Partially supported text features (use with care)

Auto-sizing text boxes

Auto-size from the corners

We partially support the "Auto-Size" option in InDesign.

You can define auto-sizing under "Text Frame Options" for Height, Width, or Height & Width. Be careful when working with "Height & Width" - this may result in some unwanted behavior.

We support auto-sizing from the corners (but not from the middle) and with the "No Line Breaks" option (for width) active.

Text (bullet) lists

No tabs in your bullet lists

Create Bullet & numbering lists by setting the bullet list in a paragraph style. We support the following properties in the text list

  • Paragraph styles on the list

  • Character styles in items

  • Create or delete bullets/numbers on an existing list

  • Custom marker (Unicode characters)

  • Left indent and first-line indent for items

  • Multiline bullet point text (soft breaks)

To define the correct indents for your bullet list, do so as follows:

We don’t support the following properties:

  • Create or delete a bullet/numbering list

  • Marker (bullet/number) character styles

  • Nested & continuous lists

Please be aware: deleting or adding bullet lists within the editing mode doesn’t work.

Unsupported text features

Irregularly shaped text frames

Don't use non-rectangular text frames

Irregularly shaped text frames are not supported – use rectangular text frames instead. If you need a circle text field, you can use a rectangular text frame with rounded edges.

Hyperlinks and InDesign-generated QR codes

No editable hyperlinks or QR codes

Hyperlinks are not supported in our Digital & Print templates. It is not possible to change or add hyperlinks in your text in our editor nor will you see them in editing mode.

If you have fixed hyperlinks in the InDesign file that are static and in a separate field, you can enable this in your downloads by adding a custom PDF preset that supports hyperlinks (read more about adding custom PDF presets here). They will then appear in the downloaded pdf file.

QR codes that have been generated directly in InDesign won't show in editing mode nor can they be edited in Frontify. If you want to have a showing QR codes, add the QR codes as an image.

Scaled text frames

Don't scale text frames.

If you want to resize your text frame, change the actual size (width and height) of the text frame. So the scaling should always be 100%.

Text columns

Text columns are not supported

Columns don't appear correctly in editing mode (despite downloading correctly). Balanced text columns look fine in some cases, sequentially filled columns never work. Use two separate text frames instead.

Linked text frames (threaded text)

We don’t support text flow over multiple elements or pages.

For text heavy designs, you might be used to InDesign's features that connects one text frame to another for overflowing text:

If you're creating InDesign templates for use in Frontify, make sure not to use this feature, as it cannot be replicated in the edit mode in Frontify. Each text frame will need to be edited independently.


We don’t support tables.

Use individual text frames with strokes instead.

DO use individual text frames with strokes:

DON'T use InDesign's table feature:


We don't support tabs.

Use multiple text frames if you want to ensure text alignment.

DO use multiple text frames for alignment:

DON'T use tabs for alignment:


Superscript/subscript not supported in editing mode

Text with superscript/subscript will not be shown correctly in editing mode and text can't be transformed into superscript/subscript. But any unchanged text using superscript/subscript will in the end be exported correctly.

Colors / Color Profiles


Use gradient feather or gradient fill

Different types of gradients are supported for templates. Make sure to follow the instructions below and never use re-usable object styles to set up gradients.

You can use the effect "Gradient Feather" for partially transparent overlays or a gradient fill if you'd like to color an element fully with a gradient:

Gradient Feather

Gradient Fill

Supported features:

  • Linear Gradient Feather

  • Linear or radial gradient fills

  • Different opacity, location, or angle settings

  • Additional vectors

Unsupported features:

  • Radial Gradient Feather

Set document intent for output color space

Document intent for export color space

When exporting, the "Intent" of the document is respected. If the intent is set to Print, CMYK values are applied if available. If the intent is set to Web or Mobile, RGB values are used.

Set the document intent when you set up your InDesign file, or change it later in File - Document Setup.

Custom color profiles (if needed)

Custom color profiles

We use the standard InDesign color profiles. In the rare case that you need a custom color profile that isn't covered by InDesign's default profiles, please contact your Customer Success Manager and make sure you have the color profile (.icc file) ready to send to us.

Prepare your InDesign package

Package, check, zip and upload

Package file

Our Templates solution only accepts InDesign package archives, not .indd files. To package an InDesign document, please follow these steps:

  1. Save your InDesign document.

  2. Go to “File > Package…” and make sure that all fonts and images are correctly linked; now click “Package”.

  3. Check the following boxes in the next dialog:

    • Copy Fonts

    • Copy Linked Graphics

    • Update Graphic Links in Package

    • Include IDML

Check package

Create the package and check the following:

  • IDML: Is there only one IDML file in the folder?

  • Links: Does the "links" folder contain all my images?

  • Document fonts: Does the document fonts folder contain all my static fonts used in the file?

ZIP and upload package

  1. Make a .zip file of the resulting folder (containing the .indd file, .idml file, a Links, and a Document fonts directory).

  2. Go to your Template Library in Frontify, click “New > InDesign Package”, and choose the previously created .zip file.

Should the upload fail, make sure to check that your ZIP file contains the full InDesign package (including the .idml file)

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