Many printers will take native files but virtually all of them prefer PDF versions (Edwards Brothers Malloy included). Its easy enough to create a basic PDF with pre-defined output settings using any desktop publishing program. You simply save or export as PDF. Most of the time though, there are some additional steps you can take to make sure you are creating PDFs that are print ready.
*Note that these steps apply to using QuarkXpress in a Macintosh Environment.
With your document open, click the “Edit” menu item at the top of the screen and select “Output Styles” from the dropdown.
In the Output Styles Dialogue, you may notice a list of predefined styles for PDF documents. Quark will come with styles pre-loaded into it. Often these are not optimal for a printer to work with. If you are sure that one of these styles has the characteristics your printer requires, use that one. Otherwise, click the “New” button and select PDF .
A new dialogue will open allowing you to configure settings for a new PDF style .
Best Practice Tip: If you work with multiple printers and each one requires PDFs in a slightly different format, you can name the style of PDF after your print vendor so that the next time you export, its as easy as clicking the name of the printer you are sending it to.
The first tab open should be page options. If ‘Include Blank Pages’ is not checked by default make sure that you check it. This can potentially be very important down the line. If you were to leave the box unchecked, send your file to your printer (and they don’t ask if you meant to leave the box unchecked), your book could go to press without blank pages at the beginning and end that you may have required. Checking the blank pages check box ensures that those are counted in the overall pages for the book when creating a PDF.
The next tab is metadata. Note that this most likely is not the same metadata that a printer will use if providing eBook conversion services or for any other purposes. At most, a printer may use this data embedded in the PDF in order to organize files. Typically it may be ok to leave these fields blank when creating your PDF style however since there are so few of them, you might as well fill them out.
Next are the hyperlink options. Naturally if you are only having a print book done, you should leave this unchecked.
Checking it could result in having color issues or having actual underlined blue font in your book. If you are in fact having an eBook done, including hyperlinks in your PDF depends on how many and the complexity of the links in your document.
For instance if you have a few absolute URLs (ones that actually look like a web address), you may not need to configure this setting to include links. If however you have anchor text (regular words with a link embedded), then you will want to include those with your file or risk having to go back later to give that information during the eBook conversion process.
Best Practice Tip: If you know you will be having an eBook conversion done, send in a separate PDF that is specifically designed to be converted to an eBook. This way you avoid features designed for eBooks interfering with your print book and vis versa.
Some printers require PDFs to be compressed before being sent to them however this practice is not so essential any more. In the past this was done to save space on servers.
ZIP compression is usually the safest because it is a loss-less compression meaning no data is lost when the file is compressed. Unless you are having space issues or your printer requests a compressed file, compression may not be necessary.
Color is a tough thing to talk about in generalities. Be careful in this step because if you pick one setting (CMYK for example), all of your colors will be printed in that setting even if not all colors should be printed like that.
Again, your printer may catch things like this but it could potentially be missed. For instance if you choose CMYK as your setting for this style and you have spot colors, all colors will be printed as CMYK.
It is best to ask the printer you are working with what this setting should be and to discuss with them the varying color formats in your document before your job goes to press.
This should typically be checked. Missing fonts was one of the most common reasons that files were stopped in the prepress process in the past. Having this box checked means the fonts will be included in the file you send to your printer. Typically this is checked by default.
In general you should ask your printer what settings they require here. Some printers require this setting to be left on so they can see that the crop marks don’t interfere with the bleed areas of a page.
Bleed settings should typically always be symmetric (same on all sides) and at least .25 inches.
At one point, the technology that printers used didn’t know how to deal with transparencies (see-through images in PDF). Typically just keeping this box checked is all that you need to do.
You can check this if you think that someone might need to go in an edit the PDF in Photoshop. Otherwise you can leave it unchecked.
In the past this setting was used so that a server would grab a higher resolution image for printing and low resolution images could still be used in design files. Technology has advanced to the point where this may no longer be necessary.
Best Practice Tip: You should always use higher resolution images in your files because if they are lower resolution when printed, they will come out blurry. An image can look fine at a lower resolution on a computer screen but come out fuzzy when it is printed.
Lastly are JDF options. This is more common in digital workflows. The JDF file is kind of like your work order and it follows the PDF file around. In it are instructions for the manufacturing of the job. Some printers use this and some don’t.
It is best to check with the vendor you are working with for precise settings. Every printer has a slightly different workflow.
Many of these settings are elements that someone in a pre-press department would have to fix before a file went to press if they were not configured properly or at all in the first place.
Getting them right up front or before you send your files to your printer means your job goes much smoother, you avoid stressful holdups and potentially added cost.
We hope this tutorial has been helpful. Have you run into any headaches before when submitting files?