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 information, so follow the links where available. We are adding to this library of information all the time, so if the information you need isn’t here, do give us a call.
Apple Mac computers running OS/X can create PDFs using the button in the Print dialogue. Unless you are using software which allows direct saving or exporting of PDFs, this is the easiest way of making a PDF. It can however generate fairly large files unless you adjust the PDF creation settings, which is less than straightforward.
The following list then assumes that you are using a Windows-based PC: