Reducing Portfolio Size

Size. Matters. 


     One of the largest issues that we have run into when applying for internships and jobs is the portfolio/work sample file size limit. Many of the big-name firms receive hundreds (if not thousands) of applications and portfolios a year. With that many incoming files, they are required to place a size limit on uploaded files.


      The difficulty comes when you've spent countless hours designing the perfect way to display your work, you go to export the final file, and out comes a 150mb files that is a far stretch from the 5mb maximum imposed by your favorite firm. This tutorial will walk you through a method for drastically reducing your file size. 

     The risk of this method is that it will reduce the resolution/quality of you portfolioA workaround for this is to simply reduce the length of your portfolio - being concise is a skill in itself. 

Step 1:

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Export your project by going to File>Export and selecting a file location on your computer. In this method, we'll be using PNG as the file type but JPEG would work similarly.  

Step 2:

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Next, you will be given the PNG export options. The fastest method that I've found is to use the "spreads" option. This will export each spread as an individual PNG at whatever resolution (ppi) you specify. The lower the ppi, the lower the quality but smaller the file size. This will result in a series of PNG files in the specified file location, as shown in the second image. 

Step 3:

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In this step, you'll need to start a new Indesign document. (File>New>Document or CTRL+N) The document width and height settings will depend on the size of you portfolio. In my case, I am using two 8.5" x 11" pages per spread  - and therefore a 17" x 11" page when combined into a single image as we did in the last step. The number of pages required is simply the number of files created in your file location.  

Once the new document is created, simply drag and drop each spread onto the respective page in the document - page order is crucial at this stage. 

Step 4:

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This step will cover exporting the file and the necessary measures that should be taken to reduce the file size. Again, export the document (File>Export or CTRL+E). Select the "Compression" menu on the left of the pop up window. 


Within this menu, you will see the compression rates of the different image types in the document (color, grayscale, and monochrome images). The default value for a "high quality print" is 300 ppi for each image type. Reducing these values is a crucial step in shrinking your file size. My typical values for these inputs are 150 ppi for color and grayscale images and 72 ppi for monochromatic images. These values can be tweaked to suit your need. i.e. 72 ppi for an extremely compressed file size. But remember, the smaller the ppi, the lower quality image. 


Another small, but important, change to make is under the "Output" menu. The important option here is excluding the color profiles. These profiles are important if someone will be editing the document later on, but for our purposes, do not matter and can save some megabytes. 

Step 4:

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If your file sizes still don't meet the required sizes, this final step can help really bring down the final size. Many free online PDF compressors exist that use similar compression methods but manage to squeeze a few more megabytes out of the file. This particular service also allows you to combine files into a PDF (which may be necessary to combine your cover, body, and back cover files). 

As you can see in the second and third images, the file size has been drastically reduced (ppi reduced to 72 on all options to show the full extent of still presentable quality).