Linking and Embedding Images

Linking and Embedding Images

You can either have your images linked to a publication or embedded within it. Instead of importing images or files directly into InDesign and embedding them, you can link the content to the file instead. Here’s the difference between linking and embedding:

  • Linking: The image that appears in the InDesign document is basically a preview of the actual image file stored on your hard drive. If the file you linked to your InDesign document is changed (the name and location must remain the same), the link breaks and the image no longer appears in your layout.

  • Embedding: The image is copied into and saved within the publication itself. It doesn’t matter where the file you imported is or if you alter that file because an embedded image is stored within the InDesign document itself.

When you print or export the publication you’re working on, the information is added to the document from linked files (if you have any). This means you have to be careful to keep all your linked files together with the InDesign document, particularly if you send or save it to a different location.

You can update the links for an image by selecting it in the Links palette and choosing Relink from the Links palette menu. You’re prompted to find that file on your hard drive so that the file can be linked to the new location.


If you choose to use embedded images instead of linked images, be aware that your publication’s file size increases because of the extra data that is being stored within it.

Images 48K or smaller are automatically embedded within the publication. If an imported image is larger than that, the file is linked. To find out what files are embedded or linked, you need to look at the Links palette. Open the palette by choosing WindowĀ®Links, and see if you have any linked or embedded images listed in the palette. Figure shows an icon signifying an embedded file; the other files are linked.

Click To expand
Figure: Linked and embedded files in the Links palette.

You can choose to embed a file using the Links palette menu. Click the triangle in the upper-right corner to access the menu and select Embed File if you want a linked file to be embedded within the document. Alternatively, choose Unembed from the Link palette menu to link a file instead of having it embedded in the document.

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