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PDF creation

You can submit your artwork to us in a wide variety of formats, but there is one we prefer above all others: PDF.

What is PDF?

PDF stands for Portable Document Format and was developed by Adobe Systems in the early 1990s. You can read more about its origins on the Adobe website.

Why use PDF?

PDF is a page description language, so, if correctly made, the file contains all the information we need to print a document: text, images, fonts, and instructions as to what goes where on the page(s). The real key is in the “P” of PDF: it’s a portable format, so it should look the same and print the same no matter what computer is used to open the file. You will realise the significance of this if you have ever had to move a word processing file from one computer to another. A document that appears perfect on one system can be quite different on another: page breaks appear in different places, fonts don’t quite match, etc. And that’s before we have considered the problems of moving a document from, say, an Apple Mac to a PC.

PDF is designed to eliminate all these problems. We also have an internal reason for preferring PDF. We have what is referred to as a “PDF workflow”. Any manipulation that we must do before printing: laying pages out on a sheet, adding cut marks, or putting booklet pages in the right order, for example, is carried out using PDF. We have a lot of expensive software that carries out all these tasks very efficiently, but it needs a PDF file as a starting point. So if you don’t supply us with a PDF, the first thing we will do is to convert your file into a PDF. It’s usually better that you create the file so that you can check that it is correct before we start to use it. Which brings us to…

The first golden rule of PDF creation

Once you have made a PDF, no matter how, open it in Adobe Reader and check it. If it doesn’t look right to you, it won’t look right to us and it won’t print as you are expecting.

How do I create a PDF?

This depends on the software program you have used to create the document. Broadly there are three methods: use the program’s built-in PDF creator, use your computer operating system’s PDF creation facilities, or use an external converter.

We aren’t able to provide instructions for every software program on every computer, but we have tried to give some general guidance. For some programs we have more detailed instruction, which are included below where available. We are adding to this library of data all the time, so if the information you need isn’t here, do give us a call.

Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop)

PDF creation is very similar across the programs within Creative Suite.

InDesign

File>Export>Save as type: Adobe PDF (Print)

  1. The [High Quality Print] option is a good choice for most jobs.
  2. Check the settings in the “Marks and Bleeds” tab (see below).
  3. If your design bleeds, i.e. has print to the edge of the page, the Bleed settings should show 3mm all round. There’s no need to add Marks, but switching on Crop Marks might help when you check the PDF. “All Printer’s Marks” are generally of little help: we automatically remove them from the PDF.

Illustrator

Generally as for InDesign, but File>Save As type: Adobe PDF, rather than Export. Also check that bleeds are set, if required.

Photoshop

File>Save As type: Photoshop PDF. There is no specific provision for bleed within Photoshop. Before saving, don’t flatten the file or rasterise text.

Microsoft Office (Word, Publisher, Powerpoint)

Word

File> Save As>More options…>Save as type: PDF

  1. Optimise for: Standard should be selected
  2. Click on the Options button (see below).
  3. Make sure that PDF/A compliant is selected. This ensures that all fonts are embedded correctly.

Publisher

Similar to Word. File> Save As>More options…>Save as type: PDF

  1. Click the Options button.
  2. “High Quality printing” will be suitable for most jobs.
  3. PDF/A compliant should be selected to ensure fonts are embedded correctly.
  4. Select “One page per sheet”
  5. “Allow bleeds” should be selected if your design has bleed added. “Crop marks” might help when you check the PDF, but are not essential.
  6. If you have bleeds and/or crop marks, the Paper Size must be set larger than the actual page size. So for an A4 page with bleeds and crop marks, perhaps select A3. the exact paper size doesn’t matter, as long as it is big enough.

PowerPoint

Again File> Save As>More options…>Save as type: PDF

  1. Optimise for: Standard should be selected.
  2. Click on the Options button (see below).
  3. To output as pages, Publish what: should be set to “Slides”.
  4. PDF/A compliant should be selected to ensure fonts are embedded correctly

Don’t forget to double-check the PDF: it’s possible that some PowerPoint effects will not have been included. If you have problems, send the original PowerPoint file to us. We may be able to use an alternative method to generate a better-quality PDF.

Pages (Apple Mac & iOS)

File>Export to>PDF

On the Export Your Document page, make sure that Image Quality: Best is selected.

Affinity Publisher

File>Export>PDF

PDF (for print) is a good preset to choose. Don’t use “press ready” unless you understand the implications.

Select pages (not spreads).

Include bleed should be selected.

Once the preset has been chosen, there should be no need to adjust any of the advanced settings.