Sep 012012

If you haven’t already discovered it, Adobe has added enhanced tagging of PDF exports from InDesign files. InDesign now tags lists for the first time and more completely tags tables than in previous versions.

For me, list tagging is a big deal since I deal with technical research documents that frequently contain a large number of lists. In exports of tagged PDFs from previous versions of InDesign I always had to search out and manually tag lists in the tag tree of exported PDFs. In version 5.5, if I use the Bullets and Numbering formatting function to create paragraph style tags to format unordered and ordered lists, the resulting PDF has correctly tagged lists. This results in substantially less time spent in the overall process since it is a lot faster to use paragraph style tags created using the Bullets and Numbering function than it is to manually update a tag tree in a PDF for every instance of a list.

The Bullets and Numbering dialog is shown below. It is accessed from one of several locations including the Paragraph Style palette and the Paragraph palette. Use this dialog to format all lists that you want properly tagged when exported to a tagged PDF.

The other tagging enhancement added with this version of InDesign is to tables. Previous versions of InDesign partially tagged tables if you used the Table function to build your tables. Version 5.5 takes the table tagging further, but still leaves some manual work to be done in Acrobat. The column heads are now properly tagged <TH> denoting a heading rather than as <TD> denoting data. Row heads are not tagged, and still must be manually corrected in the tag tree. The scope of the table cell is not identified for either the column head or row head cells and also must be set. A sample of a simple table is shown below.

Simple table

In order to properly identify the column header row in InDesign, the table should be created using the Insert Table dialog that properly identifies any header rows as shown in the Insert Table dialog below. If you are working with a table created without designated header rows, it can be corrected using Table Options > Table Setup… under the Table menu.

If the header row is designated, the table in the exported PDF will be properly tagged as shown in the tag tree below.

Note the structure of the tag tree. I shows the child tags of <THead> and <TBody> to correctly identify the heading rows and the body rows of the table. Note that the column heads are tagged as <TH>, denoting a heading cell versus the <TD> denoting data cells. The table still requires editing to identify row heads as <TH> rather than <TD> and to properly identify the scope of the heading cells for both column and row heads. The easiest way to complete the tagging in Acrobat Pro is to use the Table Editor which can be found on the Touch Up Reading Order dialog, as shown below.

After selecting the table to be edited, click on the Table Editor button on the Touch Up Reading Order dialog. Then select each of the column heading or row heading cells to be corrected (you can shift click to select multiple column head or row head cells), right click on any selected cell to bring up the option menu, and select “Edit cell properties…” This brings up the Table Cell Properties dialog as shown below.

If it is not already selected, select the Header Cell radio button under Type and then designate either Column or Row for Scope. Note that for spanning column heads, you can also designate the number of columns spanned for Column Span.

For further information on how to use the Table Editor to repair tables in Acrobat Pro review the PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 at W3C site relating to the Table Editor or review DHHS detailed instructions on editing table tags at

Sep 012012

When creating Section 508 compliant PDFs from InDesign source documents, I occasionally end up with PDFs sized wildly out of proportion to what their actual size should be. This happened recently when I exported a tagged PDF from an InDesign file received from a third party. While I was trying to figure out what had bloated the file and how to reduce its size, a colleague referred me to an article on document bloat by David Blatner on the blog, The article is well worth reading if you export PDF files from InDesign. The primary take-away for me from this article was the use of the PDF Optimizer to determine the source of the bloat and how to reduce it. The PDF Optimizer is found by selecting Save As > Optimized PDF from the File menu in Acrobat Pro X or selecting PDF Optimizer… found under the Advanced menu in Acrobat Pro 9.

On the resulting PDF Optimizer dialog box, you will find a button labeled “Audit space usage…” This dialog will provide you with a list of space usage within the PDF file. The example shown below shows that Document Overhead consumes 3.5 GB, almost 93 percent of the total file space. I have no idea what document overhead is, but it clearly is the culprit in bloating up this PDF.

Screen shot of Audit Space Usage dialog box

To reduce the gross amount of document overhead, select “Discard User Data” from the PDF Optimizer and check “Discard document information and metadata” as shown below. When you run this function, you will lose your metadata, so make sure you have it captured so you can reenter it.

Screen Shot of Adobe Acrobat PDF Optimizer

In the case of the file shown, this one fix reduced the file size from 3.8 MB down to 279 KB.

The standard methods of reducing bloat in the InDesign document itself (5.6 MB in this case) were not effective in preventing PDF bloat. The standard techniques of doing a periodic Save As… or exporting the file as an InDesign Markup (IDML) document and reimporting it into InDesign did nothing to reduce bloat. Only using the “Discard document information and metadata” fully reduced the bloat for this file.

The full article can be found on the InDesign Secrets site at