All versions of Adobe Acrobat PDF are supported for both Apple Macintosh and Windows platforms. If done correctly PDF is a great way to submit your files. However, it is important to remember that it can be very difficult to make even simple changes to PDF files. If you have proofed your project carefully and are confident that it will not require last minute revisions then PDF may be perfect for you.
Many applications also have the capability to export, save as, or to output PDF files but not all PDF files are created equal. For best results, the settings which determine how the PDF is created may need to be adjusted.
You can download and install our customized Distiller PDF settings. This settings file will allow you to make a perfect PDF first time, every time. We even have versions that install right into certain applications such as InDesign so you can export a PDF right from your design program. If you prefer, or if your files do not require transparency effects, you may also download and use the PDF/X-1a:2001 job option settings. Either one takes only a few seconds to install. For detailed information on how to install these files please see Installing Job Options.
Please review our Application Tips pages (see links below) for more detailed information regarding PDF Creation prior to finalizing your files for printing. You may also call us directly if you need more information regarding PDF files and their creation for use in high resolution printing.
- Exporting PDFs Directly from Your Application
- Distilling PDFs Using Acrobat Distiller
- Use Our Customized Distiller Settings
- Five Things to Remember When Making PDF Files
- Application Tips
PDF files can be made using two primary methods.
Some programs such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress can export PDF files directly from within the application. If you have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat installed on your system, applications such as Microsoft Publisher, Word, and others may have PDF Export controls which were added to their menus by Acrobat. For specific information about exporting PDF files firectly from your graphics program please refer to the Application Tips below.
When you locate the PDF settings options in you program you should select either our customized setting or the PDF/X-1a:2001 option setting. Either of these settings will enable you to create a high-quality PDF suitable for professional printing, but it is important that you use our customized job option settings if your document makes use of transparency. Because all transparency is flattened in the PDF/X-1a:2001 format, in some rare cases this may give unnacceptable results when the file is processed. For more information regarding these option settings please see Use Our Customized Distiller Settings below.
In some ways this is the simplest of all methods but it does require that you have access the Adobe Acrobat Distiller program. You just select the either the Cutomized Distiller Settings setting (see below) or the PDF/X-1a:2001 and then drag and drop a Postscript print file (.PRN or .PS) onto Distiller and it will do all the work for you. However, sometimes this is easier said than done.
You will first need to print your document to a file instead of a printer. There are a number of ways to do this depending upon your operating system and the printer drivers that you have installed. Since you will be printing a file that you will be distilling you should probably choose the Adobe PDF printer option. The printer name may be slightly different or you may even have more than one to choose from.
Sometimes the Postscript print file will not process at all or processes incorrectly. Often the problem is just getting that Postscript print file in the first place. It is usually just a matter of getting the settings right. Once set, many of the settings will stay the same until you change them.
Never fear, once you get it working correctly it should always work as long as you do it the same way every time. Obviously you may want to document your procedure. Even more importantly, once you learn to create a Postscript print file which will process correctly, you can use that very same print file (or that same procedure) to create any other type of PDF files that you might need, even to make PDFs for posting on the internet.
When exporting PDF files for professional printing it is very important that you select to appropriate PDF Job Options (see below). Acrobat installations automatically come with a number of pre-installed Job Options which may be selected based upon your intended use for the resulting PDF file. In Acrobat Distiller these setting are referred to as Adobe PDF Settings (or Job Options), but depending upon your software program they may also be called Adobe PDF Preset (InDesign), Conversion Settings (located in the Adobe PDF menu item added by Acrobat PDFMaker to many applications), or PDF Default Options (QuarkXPress).
The preferred method for submitting PDf files is to use use our customized Commercial Printing Distiller PDF settings settings. Using our settings will also ensure that your PDF is optimized for high resolution commercial printing. Our job option settings will maintain any transparency present in your document. We will then be able to control and edit this transparency if necessary during processing.
Alternatively, you can use the PDF format known as PDF/X-1a:2001. This is a version of PDF file format that was created specifically for exchanging graphics files for printing. By using the PDF/X-1a specification you will prevent many potential problems with your files. Unfortunately, this setting will flatten your file and we will not be able to edit any transparency that was present prior to flattening.
If you have Adobe Acrobat (either the Standard or Professional versions) then you already have the capability of distilling PDF and PDF X/1a files. This is a simple matter and you probably already have a setting for PDF/X-1a in your system, you may only need to select it and you are ready to create press-ready PDFs.
You can download and install either our Customized Distiller PDF settings or the PDF/X-1a:2001 job option settings. They take only a few seconds to install. For detailed information on how to install these files please see Installing Job Options.
Here are five quick tips to remember when making PDF files for printing.
1. Use Our Customized Distiller Settings
We strongly recommend that you use our customized Commercial Printing Distiller PDF settings (see above). Alternatively, you can use the PDF/X-1a:2001 setting designed specifically to be used for professional printing (see note concerning transparency above). You can download and install either our customized Commercial Printing Distiller PDF settings or the PDF/X-1a:2001 job option settings. For detailed information on how to install these files please see Installing Job Options.
2. Always Include Bleed
The most important thing to remember when making your PDF is to include the proper bleed (.125"). If your document has no graphics or images that bleed (print to the final page trim edge) then you can make your PDF using the document's page size.
However, if your document does have bleed then you will need to make certain that your printer's paper page size (note: this is not the same thing as the document page size) is defined as large enough to accommodate the required .125" bleeds and crop marks. With bleeds and crop marks it is a good idea to define your paper size to be 1" taller and 1" wider overall (or .5" extra on all four sides) than your document page size. If you cannot find the size that you need please see our page with information about adding custom paper sizes to Windows printers.
If your document is 8.5" x 11", then with bleed that document is 8.75" x 11.25", and if you include crop marks the paper size should be 9.5" x 12".
The method for including the correct bleed differs from program to program so you will need to determine the proper method based upon your specific situation and application.
3. Use Proper Image Resolution
Make certain that your graphics images or photos have appropriate effective resolution. Effective resolutions of at least 300 PPI (or DPI if you prefer) at 100% image scaling are preferred for professional printing. Reducing that image in your document raises the effective resolution while enlarging it reduces the effective resolution.
4. Use CMYK Color
After you are sure that your graphics and pictures have the appropriate resolution you should also make certain that your document and your graphics and pictures are defined using the CMYK color space.
5. Always Include Fonts
Some Adobe PDF printer drivers may have an option checkbox (usually located in Printing Preferences) which might say something like "Do not send fonts to Adobe PDF". Make certain that this option is NOT selected. If this option is checked then the PDF will not process correctly and your PDF will be made without embedding the correct fonts. It will appear OK on your computer but the correct fonts may not travel with your file. Using either our customized Commercial Printing Distiller or the PDF/X-1a:2001 job option settings will prevent this from happening since the fonts must be embedded to conform the the specification.
Special Note: Not all font companies will allow their fonts to be embedded within documents (subject to certain licensing restrictions). If you are using any of these fonts it is imperative that you either provide working copies of those fonts with your job or choose another font that may be embedded. To prevent any loss of resource fork data that would render your fonts useless, Macintosh users should always compress their files on a Macintosh.
For more information about creating PDF files and for other helpful tips on using these applications, please follow the links below.
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe PageMaker
- Corel PhotoPaint
- Macromedia Freehand
- Microsoft Publisher
- Microsoft Word