Section 02 | PDF Creation

PDF is short for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe Systems. PDF/X meanwhile serves as an umbrella term for several ISO standards that define a subset of the format. The purpose of PDF/X is to facilitate graphics exchange.

PDFs capture formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications, making it possible to send documents and have them appear on recipients’ monitors or as print-outs as they were intended. A PDF file represents an ordered sequence of fixed pages. The planned appearance of everything that each page contains is completely specified, down to the smallest detail. All the text, graphics, and images are specified to appear at precise spots on the page in a particular color, of a given and fixed size. The creator of the PDF file determines the exact appearance that the viewer will see and PDF renderers like Adobe Reader display the page contents exactly as specified.

Creating a PDF is like painting a picture. The paintbrush is the result of a combination of the software used to create the source document and the software used to convert the source document into the universal electronic document format (PDF). Like the painter’s brushstrokes, each character, each line, and each image is fundamentally independent, but they can interact with each other to produce specific visual effects.

In this section, GlobalVision describes best practices regarding the creation of PDF files.


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2.1 Standardize on PDF/X

RISK
Processing errors may occur in the proofing and pre-press stages.

ISSUES
The printer may not be able to accurately replicate the originally designed artwork.
EXAMPLE
2.1 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Use Adobe Acrobat Pro for pre-flight tools.
Analyze the PDF/X file upon completion.
Standardize on your PDF creation method.
Review ISO Standard PDF/X ISO 15930.

Don’t:
Create an encrypted PDF.
Create PDFs in any application other than Adobe Acrobat.
Create color-separated PDFs.
Use low-resolution images.

TIPS
The following steps may be applied in Adobe Acrobat Pro to save a standard compliant PDF file:
Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  • Go to the File Menu and click Save As.
  • Select PDF/X or PDF/A.
  • Type in the file name and click Save.

 

2.2 Create an accessible PDF from a Microsoft Word document

RISK
Processing errors may occur in the proofing and pre-press stages.

ISSUE
What you see on the screen is not always what is displayed in print. The printer may not be able to accurately replicate the original artwork.

EXAMPLE
2.2 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Include a pre-flight process in your workflow to ensure quality control of artwork.
Pre-flight the artwork in Adobe InDesign before creating the PDF as a precaution  to avoid errors.
Use Adobe Acrobat Pro to pre-flight PDFs to avoid errors before printing.

Don’t:
Approve final artwork files without pre-flighting them first.

TIPS
The following steps detail how to pre-flight a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  • Go to the menu and select View and then Tools.
  • In the Tools panel, click on Print Production and select Pre-Flight.
  • Use an existing profile or create one.
  • Analyze and make the appropriate changes.

 

2.3 Create an accessible PDF from a Microsoft Word document

RISKS
The reading order in the PDF may not be detected properly.
ISSUE

  • Different departments may have different versions of the same software program.
  • Earlier versions may not be compatible with newer versions of the same software.

EXAMPLE
2.3 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Use formatting styles and headers in documents.
Use the bulleted-list feature in Microsoft Word.
Save as a PDF using an Adobe plug-in.
Save a tagged PDF.

Don’t:
Use indentations and bullet points to create lists.
Use text effects such as shadow text in Microsoft Word.
Use the border and shading option to surround text instead of creating a proper table.

TIPS
The following steps detail how to create a tagged PDF in Microsoft Word:

  • Go to File and select Print.
  • Select Adobe PDF as the printer and click Print to create an Adobe PDF.

 

2.4 Tag the PDF when styles are applied to text

RISKS
Styles may not be detected by the proofreading software.
ISSUE
Differences may not be detected by the proofreading software.

EXAMPLE
2.4 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Create a tagged PDF when using different styles to format text (underline, italic, bold, etc.).

Don’t:
Leave the Create Tagged PDF option unchecked when creating the PDF in Adobe InDesign.

TIPS
The following steps may be applied to create a tagged PDF:
Adobe InDesign:

  • Go to File and select Adobe PDF Presets.
  • Select the targeted PDF presets.
  • Go to the Export PDF Window Options menu.
  • Check Create Tagged PDF.

Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  • Go to Tools and select Accessibility.
  • Add tags to the document.

 

2.5 Always specify the trim box in a PDF

RISKS
Unwanted content in the document may be printed.
ISSUE
Unwanted content in the document may appear in the final print if the trim
box is not specified.
EXAMPLE
2.5 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Define a bleed area when setting up a document.
Define a trim area when setting up a document.

Don’t:
Create a trim box manually.
Leave the document limited only by the page edge.

TIPS
The following steps may be applied in Adobe Acrobat Pro to set the Trim Box feature in a PDF:

  • Go to Print Production and select Tools.
  • Set the individual Page Boxes.

 

2.6 Ensure all content in a PDF is accessible

RISKS
The proofreading software may not detect all differences.
ISSUE

  • Accessibility in the document may be compromised.
  • Text extraction and the reading order may be compromised.

EXAMPLE
2.6 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Create searchable text-file documents (live text).
Use tags to indicate the structural elements of the documents.
Use a clear and easy-to-follow reading order.
Specify the text language.
Use fonts that allow characters to be extracted to text.

Don’t:
Use outlined text in the PDF.
Restrict users from printing, copying, extracting, or editing text by using security settings.

TIPS
The following steps may be applied to check the accessibility in an Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF file and help evaluate and identify areas that may conflict with accessibility guidelines:

  • Go to Tools and select Accessibility.
  • Select Full Check.
  • Verify the Accessibility Report.

 

2.7 Standardize on a PDF producer to create PDFs

RISKS
Poor-quality PDF files may result, along with PDF files with accessibility issues.
ISSUE

  • Different PDF producers create PDF files of varying quality.
  • Older PDF producers may create PDF files using low-quality settings.
  • Results may differ from one PDF version to another.

EXAMPLE
2.7 pdf creation
SOLUTION
Do:
Use the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Pro to create PDFs.
Upgrade your Adobe Creative Suite on a regular basis.
Standardize on PDF Version 1.5 or higher.

Don’t:
Use old-technology PDF producers.
Create PDFs with Version 1.4 or lower.

TIPS
Please refer to the following appendices for details on which PDF producer to standardize on:

  • Appendix 01 PDF Compatibility Levels.
  • Appendix 02 PDF/X Comparison.

 


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11 sections, covering everything you’ll need for a bulletproof file creation process.