If you use Publisher, Quark or InDesign to create your publication, one of the options you have when placing images is to link them to your publication file. But what does that mean and why would you choose to do that?
Generally speaking images files are large and take up lots of storage in your computer. When embedded in a Publisher, Quark or InDesign publication, the file you are working on becomes larger and takes more memory and hard drive space. In most circumstances this is an acceptable practice, and while it will make the program respond slower, the average computer used today is able to process data so quickly you will not likely notice. The same can be said for the space used by larger files in that most computers have very large hard drives and expansive amounts of RAM so that the effect of these larger files is rarely a issue to the average user.
This brings us back to the question of when is linking a good idea? Linking allows all high resolution image files to remain in one centralized location such as a server. This is commonly used at companies that work with high volumes of large image files such as newspapers or magazines. The files remain on the server and are not being copied to individual workstations across the company network slowing it down. When the document is finally ready for printing, proofing or final print, the software then finds the original high resolution image file and sends it to the printer.
The drawback to linking files to a page layout program is that, if the link is ever broken the high resolution file can no longer be used when you need to print it. When this occurs you will see a warning like the one in Microsoft Publisher. It states Publisher cannot find the following linked picture. It then lists the image that is missing. Publisher then offers up three options, find the linked picture and update it, print the low-resolution picture currently displayed in your publication, or print an empty space in place of the missing picture. In that instance you will always want to find the original file as printing the low resolution image or an empty space would only possibly be useful for proofreading.
As you can see, linking images is best avoided for the average user of page layout programs since it amounts to more confusion. Simply inserting the high resolution graphic is generally the best bet. The files you will find on LPi’s Art and Media Portal are all designed to keep the file sizes compact to allow for quicker downloading while at the same time making your bulletin or newsletter look great!