PDF files are widely accepted, easy-to-view and reliable. That makes them one of the most commonly used files for electronically distributing, viewing and printing all types of data and information. There are many different versions of Adobe PDF files, which may cause users some problems when printing these files, for example:
• Missing fonts
• Color space issues
• Trapping issues
• Missing images.
Because of the increased number of people using PDF printing as well as the increase in the number of versions, this article is designed to help users resolve these PDF printing problems. A good way to get around the most common PDF printing problems is through the use of the PDF preflight tool. PDF preflight is the process of detecting and fixing any potential issues you may have before printing your PDF document.
The Value of the PDF/X File Format
The simplest tool you can use to troubleshoot a PDF file is a full version of Adobe Acrobat Professional software. Both Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional and Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro software have preflight tools available to detect and correct common errors using “fix-ups.”
Preflighting PDF files should alert you to potential issues before actually printing the documents. In many cases, the problem PDF files can be corrected. While using PDF preflight can fix a good majority of PDF issues, it cannot fix every problem. There are just too many variables involved in PDF creation that have an effect on printing.
One of the easiest ways to avoid a large majority of PDF printing problems is to use the PDF/X standard. PDF files can be easily created in or converted to the PDF/X standard using Adobe Acrobat—and many third party applications. The PDF/X standard is supported by Adobe PostScript 3 software and most third party processing software when using the direct PDF printing method. It was designed for the exchange of print-ready pages in the graphic arts and prepress world. PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 are two versions of this standard. Either one should work well, but I would recommend using PDF/X-3 when possible.
The PDF/X standard requires that all fonts be embedded, appropriate PDF bounding boxes be specified and colors be correctly defined. Using PDF/X eliminates the most common errors in file preparation: missing fonts, color space issues, missing images, page box problems, and overprinting and trapping issues.
The PDF/X standard doesn’t support transparency. So, the flattening is done when the PDF/X is created. The result is that a PDF/X file generally process more quickly than PDF files that contain transparency. They properly define all page box settings. And because PDF/X encapsulates all the required page elements, they usually have less printing issues. The one disadvantage is the file size can sometimes be larger than other PDF versions. When encountering a problem printing a PDF, the first course of action should be to convert it to PDF/X-3.
PDF/X can also be set as a default when originally generating PDF files in Adobe products and some other PDF generators. Standardizing on PDF/X may provide more consistent and reliable output with your printer or software.
There are many other pre-flighting tools available in Acrobat that can correct printing problems. If the issues cannot be corrected, it should alert you to potential trouble. At the very least, you’ll know there is a problem before printing and disturbing the documents.
Shown is an in depth guide on how to use Preflight to assist you with any potential PDF issues you might have.
Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Preflight and Print Production Tools
The Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Help feature has a good explanation of the Preflight and Print Production tools. This will provide you with a good understanding of what variables can be checked and corrected.
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro software. (Fig. 1)
2. Select Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Help…from the Help menu (Fig. 1)