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October 29, 2009

Print-Ready PDF files

cmyk-dots

Print-ready PDF files Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is great for a multitude of uses. It has caused a revolution in printing. Everything needed for high-resolution printing can be packed into one file that can be opened and printed using Adobe’s free Reader on almost any computer. The trick is, because a PDF can be created many different ways, to create it the correct way and pack it with the essential information for high-quality digital printing or a file that can be used for make-ready, for offset printing.

Here are a few of the minimum requirements for a PDF file to be usable for high-resolution printing using a digital print process.

  • All fonts used in the document should be embedded in the PDF file. The preference for “Subsetting” the fonts should be set to 100%.
  • For CMYK printing, all color in the document should be CMYK. This goes for ink colors as well as photos and illustrations.
  • Make sure that the photos and line art in the document do not have their resolution reduced (downsampled) when the PDF is created. Photos should retain their 300 dpi resolution.
  • The compression should be fine set on “automatic” but some say “zip” is better than “jpeg” for quality. You can also choose “none” and the photos will not be compressed when the PDF is created but, this will result in a larger PDF.

If you follow these guidelines, your PDF will work for high-resolution CMYK printing. The same PDF will also work in all the processes that require less resolution as well.

The term “make-ready” refers to everything done on a press to prepare for the final print job. This includes selecting the proper colors, getting the image placement correct, setting up the plates, and preparing the printer for the chosen paper size and weight. Getting everything right during make-ready helps to ensure a quality print run. This step would be considered finished when the printer is satisfied with a print, and can therefore begin the actual run.

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