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:
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
Make sure “Optimize for Fast Web View” is OFF.
Make sure to Embed All Fonts. Some fonts are proprietary or corrupt and cannot be embedded.
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.
It’s OK to turn “Compress Text and Line Art” ON.
Under “Output,” set the Color Conversion to “No Color Conversion.”
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!
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
or email us at