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8 Steps to Creating a Print-ready PDF


By Test Authorship

print-ready PDF
Eye-catching graphics and easy-to-read fonts are critical elements of print marketing materials. If a document is improperly prepared, you can lose time and money through production delays and reprints. There are several things you can do throughout the design process to make the conversion to a print-ready PDF easy and mistake-free.

  1. Know up front which file format is required, and understand that these requirements change for different types of documents. To achieve the best results, consider these options:
    • For artwork documents such as brochures, stationary, postcards and display items, use PDFs or Adobe InDesign.
    • Vector graphics such as logos and motifs, frames, display text and background graphics work best with Adobe Illustrator.
    • With photographs, including scanned and digital images and montages, use Adobe Photoshop.
    • Text documents often have the largest options including Microsoft Word, Simple Text, Text Edit, and more.
  2. Select common fonts to assure they are available through our systems and embed them in your file. If you are unsure of which fonts to use, contact us for information. Always embed the fonts in your PDF files to assure that the font you select will be used in your document.
  3. Size your document to the final trim dimensions, unless you are printing a folder or multi-fold items. Do not include bleed or crop marks in your measurements.
  4. Understand bleed and crop marks and how to use them. Bleed is important when you have an image that will run to the edge of your page. Your document will be larger than your final page since the extra portion of the image (the bleed) will be present. Crop marks show where the page will be cut to its final dimensions.
  5. Edit and transform photographs in its “native” application, such as Photoshop before placing it in a document to achieve the best results. Make sure you can print the image from Photoshop because if it can’t print there, it will not print in your page layout program. Save Photoshop images as a JPG, TIFF, EPS or PDF file. Once the image is prepared you can transfer it to the page layout program for placement and sizing.
  6. Choose high-resolution images of at least 225 ppi, for best printing results, although a minimum of 300 ppi is standard. Please note that choosing a lower ppi will result in a soft or pixelated image.
  7. Check your color choices against a Pantone reference book or CMYK mixer chart to be sure that what you see is what you’ll get. This is important because the colors you see on your monitor may not be accurate.
  8. Save black and white images as grayscale, not RGB or CMYK, or they will not print.

Once you’ve completed this process, you should have a print-ready PDF file. The PDF document should:

  • Be centered
  • Have embedded fonts
  • Include crop marks
  • Have images that are a minimum of 225 ppi with no RGB or LAB color profiles
  • Be saved as single pages rather than spreads or printers pairs
  • Be saved with “Press quality” selected for high resolution printing, or “Smallest file size” for online or view only

Use these tips to create amazing and effective print materials that look exactly how you envisioned them. Having trouble? We can help you transform any file into a print-ready PDF and even assist with the design and layout. Contact us to learn more.