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Setting Up Better PDFs


“There’s PDFs and THEN there’s PDFs,” as Ole Down and Dirty has

been known to say. It seems there are as many ways to make a PDF

as there are folks out there making PDFs. A file that works fine on a

Webpage is probably the wrong kind of file for the print environment,

since the size and resolution of web files are necessarily smaller to load

pages faster. The theory is that “if it’s ‘good enough,’ then that’s Good Enough.


In the Print environment, however, quality of the file is paramount, so which settings you choose to

make your PDF are very important.


If you have access to the settings that your app will use when it distills a PDF, you should always try to use

the following settings for a print file:


  1. You might want to save your PDFs down to Acrobat 6. A lot of our customers are NOT using the
    latest version of Acrobat or Adobe Reader.  WARNING: Lower version PDFs may not be able to handle
    higher-end functions!

  2. Make sure “Optimize for Fast Web View” is OFF.

  3. Make sure to Embed All Fonts. Some fonts are proprietary or corrupt and cannot be embedded.

  4. Under “Compression” change all settings to “Do Not Downsample” and all Compression options
    to “None.” You’ve spent a lot of effort putting nice high-quality graphics in your job; you don’t want
    to downsample them and make them lower quality.

  5. It’s OK to turn “Compress Text and Line Art” ON.

  6. Under “Output,” set the Color Conversion to “No Color Conversion.”

  7. Under “Security,” make sure there are NO security or password settings of any kind in any PDF
    you send us. We can’t edit the file to make sure it prints correctly, and we have no desire to change your
    copy anyway, so don’t worry about that!

  8. When you’re finished setting all this up, you’re usually given an opportunity to save these settings, so do
    so, and give it a logical name, like “SPS settings.” Then next time you can just choose your new settings
    from the pull down menu and save yourself some time.


Next up: PDFs...Worth the Trouble

Ole Down and Dirty



Do you have a nagging technical problem you’d

love us to address?

We’re here to help!


Contact the Shipman Prepress Department at

(800) 462-2114
ext. 105 

or email us at
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