Ad copy – PDF OK?

Ad copy – PDF OK?
October 7, 2014UncategorizedAd copy, advertisement, artwork
If you’re producing a magazine, you will almost certainly be dealing with finished pages in PDF format from advertisers. Firstly, beware! PDF is a format, not a standard. PDF files can be created from almost any desktop application, so just because it looks OK on screen, doesn’t mean it will look good when printed on a commercial press.


One of the misconceptions about PDF ad copy is that it can be inserted into the layout document and then ‘PDFd’ again to create the finished press-ready document without any problems. Whilst this is possible, it can create a number of hidden defects in the artwork, many of which may not be visible before the finished product is printed.
How can that happen?
When most PDF files are created, a layer of compression is added to improve the ‘portability’ of the final document. If you check your settings, you will see that jpeg compression will probably be applied on halftone images for example. No problem in small doses, but…
Where you create your final document ready for press, you may be applying a second layer of compression on top of the first which already existed. This seond layer can start to remove important ‘structural’ information from the document which can be detrimental to its appearnce. We’ve seen blends turn solid, colour pictures turn to mono and certain components just disappear. Rare, but scary nevertheless.
So how do you eliminate this risk?
Decompress the ‘ingredient’ file by turning it from a PDF format into eps format.
Open the original ad file in Acrobat®, then go to…
File>export>Postscript>Encapsulated PostScript then in the browse window, hit Settings
General Binary // Font Inclusion – Embedded and Referenced Fonts // PostScript Level3 // tick Convert TrueType to Type1 // tick Include Preview
Output tick Simulate Overprinting
Colour Management Colour Handling – Acrobat Colour Management // Color Profile Coated FOGRA39
Save and you’ll have an eps with preview ready to import into your layout document. It’ll be a good deal bigger than the PDF original because it contains more information, but will be absolutely reliable.
Don’t be tempted to use Illustrator or Photoshop to convert. Illustrator tends to create huge file sizes with lots of superfluous information, whilst Photoshop will rasterise all your vector graphics and text, making them look fuzzy / pixelated.

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