Today we’ll talk about proper PDF export.
As I mentioned on the previous post, it’s essential to set up our file in the correct format. The file dimensions must be the exact ones we want our final trimmed product to have. We must also leave an at least 3mm bleed edge and check all photos to be CMYK (with the adequate profile) and not RGB when the file is to be printed on an offset press.
All page make-up programs have an “export to PDF” or “publish to PDF” option, so it’s very simple to export a proper PDF file, if we choose the PDF/X-1a:2001 preset. We can also export proper PDFs using other PDF/X presets (the ones suggested by ISO).
However, based on my experience, the PDF/X-1a:2001 preset is the safest, because it can be edited by almost every RIP even if it’s based on past technology. (RIPs are programs used to directly produce zinc plates or films.). Then we have to check the crop marks, so that the printer knows where we want our printout cut and the bleed edge on 1cm, so that we get the whole background on the printout.
It’s also necessary to make a final check of the PDF we have exported. It should look like that:
If we have installed the Acrobat Professional, we can also check other things. By clicking on Advanced à Print Production à Output Preview, we can make sure whether our project is 4-coloured, whether it also includes pantone colours, or whether the pictures are CMYK.
This way we can be more secure about the final output. Of course, in order to be more certain, you can ask to see a soft proof. A soft proof is a draft printout of the ripped file before it gets to the production stage.
ISO-based PDF export