File set-up: PDF guide
We've consolidated a host of PDF preparation tips into this one article and organized it into four tabbed sections. Please let us know if you have any questions or with any suggestions for improvements in either content or clarity.
How to create a one-time, reusable PDF set-up
Here are PDF settings for InDesign that, when used by our customers, will setup the PDF correctly for commercial printing. These job options correctly set color conversion, image compression, fonts, transparency, etc. We've seen other PDF job options settings add too much black when converting for example, resulting in muddy images. Keep in mind you should not place your large images into your layout at a small percentage. We've found that in some instances, this can introduce a moiré pattern into the image.
You should first resize them to the correct physical size in Photoshop before placing them, if you are placing them at less than 80% of their size. Or use an application add-on for InDesign called LinkOptimizer, which can batch scale your images for you.
Print settings to make PDFs out of InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop.
To add these settings to InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop:
- First, download the HLPS joboptions file: HLPSPrintOutput.joboptions.zip.
- After file has downloaded, unzip before proceeding.
- Go to the File menu in InDesign, and the Edit menu in Illustrator/Photoshop.
- Click on 'Adobe PDF Presets' and then 'Define'.
- A dialog box will open, then click 'Import...' or 'Load...' (CS3 & 4).
- Select the file you downloaded from step one above.
- Then when making a PDF select 'Export' from the File menu for InDesign, and 'Save As' from the File menu for Illustrator/Photoshop.
- Select where you want to save the file, and what type of file to export as (PDF).
- Then when exporting file as PDF, select 'Prinergy PDF Export_HLS' from the Adobe PDF Preset pull-down menu.
PDFs: RGB Images?
In prior issues, we have often addressed the issue of fonts and images not being embedded. Due to improvements in operating systems and software programs, we don't see this problem as often as we used to.
We still get PDFs with RGB images and this isn't usually a problem. However, if you have color that needs to be retouched or that needs to match physical swatches, let your sales rep know: One of our specialties is "critical color" projects.
Viewing PDF proofs
We will always send you back either a paper proof or a PDF proof, even when we are supplied a PDF for printing. The biggest reason for proofing PDFs is that when we process PDFs through our system/RIP to prepare for print or plates, there can sometimes be font and/or image issues, although it is quite rare.
Watch for this common problem when viewing PDF Proofs
When viewing PDF proofs, it is important to emulate the printed page as best as possible. Notably, Acrobat Pro and the free Adobe Acrobat Reader do not default to the proper viewing settings for overprinted inks. If you do not have your Overprint options set as follows, you may see strange artifacts and/or an odd appearance when viewing PDF proofs that we send you, making your proof an inaccurate reflection of the final printed page.
Here are instructions for editing these settings:
1: Select "Preferences"
2: Select "Page Display" from the Categories options.
3: Change Overprint Preview to "Always" (see JPG below for screen shot)
PDFs: best practices and pitfalls
The right PDF settings
High Res (PressPDF) — we have settings available for download in our Resource Center (see this section)
Bleed and trim size: set it correctly
When printing a color to the edge of the trimmed sheet (also known as a bleed), we need the color to extend beyond the edge. Otherwise, minor variations in the location of the trim can reveal the paper at the edge of the image. By extending the ink beyond the trim location (typically 1/8 inch), there is no chance of the paper showing through at the edge of piece. Just to be clear: The trim size should equal final size of the piece. Make sure a bleed extends 1/8" beyond the trim size.
Embed your fonts
The most common error that we find is that the fonts have not been embedded into the PDF. The PDF will seem OK on the computer on which it was created because the fonts are resident on that computer. Users of recent versions of Adobe InDesign and other CS issues need only to ensure that font embedding is enabled. Because there are many programs that can generate a PDF, and not all of them can embed all types of fonts, we recommend that users who want to submit job as a PDF file only create the PDF with a recent version of an Adobe product.
Embed your images
Similar to fonts, sometimes PDFs arrive with images that have not been embedded. This may be due to the software you are using, or possibly because you have your PDF preferences set to an OPI (Open Prepress Interface) workflow, which embeds only a low-resolution version of an image with the assumption that the high-resolution images are stored on a local server for swap-out during output. Of course, if we don't have the high-resolution images, they won't swap correctly.
Marks must be set to offset at 1/8 inch
In the printing process, marks denote the location of the trim. These marks cannot extend into the bleed. If they do, in effect there is no bleed as we run the risk of the edge of the mark showing up if there is a slight variation in the trim location.
Right way vs. wrong ways
Here are some samples: One correct PDF and six improperly-prepared PDFs:
Print-Ready PDF: Crops and Bleed
In the following examples, we have to create a new document, place the PDF, make any corrections and make a new PDF. This significantly adds to the time it takes to process your job.
Improper PDF: No Crops or Bleed
Improper PDF: Crops but No Bleed
Improper PDF: Crops in Bleed and Too Many Marks
Improper PDF: Marks in Bleed Equals No Bleed
Improper PDF: Multi-Up PDF
Improper PDF: Page Size Different Than Trim Size