How to convert an Indesign file to an Illustrator (.ai) file

  1. In Indesign save as a pdf
  2. then open the pdf in Illustrator
  3. then save as an .ai file.

This seems to work fine, the art board is the right size and the text (kind of) editable.

BUT, sometimes Illustrator throws a wobbly and substitutes the fonts for no good reason.

In this case you should:

  1. export as an .eps in Indesign (PostScript Level 3, embed all fonts)
  2. open the .eps in Illustrator
  3. save as .ai file

This has the disadvantage that Illustrator won’t create the right size art board (it will be the default A4 size) and the fonts are outlined, but at least it looks right.


  1. Hi Jason,

    I created a sign in inDesign, and would like to now get it printed up…but they would like a vector file. Will following the above steps get them what they need? Or can I convert the font to curves somehow?

  2. On behalf of Adobe …

    Adobe Illustrator is NOT, repeat is NOT, repeat yet again is NOT a general purpose PDF file editor. The only PDF files that Adobe Illustrator can safely and fully open are PDF files saved from Illustrator itself IF the “retain editability” option is specified when you create the PDF file from Illustrator.

    In other cases, you may expect to see font substitutions, font outlining, text relayout, lost images, transparency issues, and changes in color spaces (unlike InDesign, Illustrator only supports either CMYK or RGB, not both simultaneously).

    You’ve been appropriately warned.

    – Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

  3. Thank you Mr. Isaacs, well noted and I’m quite amazed someone from Adobe found my site.

    Sometimes though we’re asked to do things by clients/graphic design companies etc which are not what the software was built for. But the clocks ticking and you have to find a solution.

    I am still surprised that opening files in different Adobe applications is not an entirely smooth process, but having now used the byzantine nightmare that is language translation software, Adobe is a godsend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.