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How to Save Your PDF

PDF Tips

There are many ways to create a PDF file, but not all of them work well for professional online printing. The way in which you create a PDF can dramatically alter the quality of your printing. For that reason, please refer to the following guidelines to ensure the best possible print quality.

Smartpress PDF Specifications

Smartpress has a PDF job options file available for download. This .joboptions file is compatible only with Adobe Creative Suite programs and you will need Adobe Distiller to use it. With this file, PDFs will be created with exact print specifications for Smartpress.

Download the .zip file here:

PDF ‘.joboptions’ File For PC and Mac
ZIP (3kb)

Once you download the file, it will most likely need to be unzipped. Saving the unzipped file in the correct location is key so it will be available to you when you make your PDF in Adobe Creative Suite programs.

Below are a few examples of where the file should be saved. Not all systems are set up the same, and depending on the software versions, locations can vary slightly.

For Mac:

Move the “.joboptions” file to your Adobe folder (located in Applications > Adobe).

If this does not work, try this:

[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings

For PC:

PDF PC Installation

Move the “.joboptions” file to your Adobe folder (located in Program Files > Adobe).

If that does not work, follow the path below:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents\Adobe PDF\Settings

Advantages of Using Smartpress Specific Job Options

What exactly does this new .joboptions file do? This file has predetermined presets for your PDF that make producing your file with an online printer like Smartpress easy. The crop marks, bleeds, output options and compression are all defined for you. You will find this saving option in the PDF Preset dropdown.

Please Note: This .joboptions file will only work in Adobe Creative Suite programs. Please reference our PDFs from Word and PDFs from Publisher sections below if you are using either of those.

PDF Guidelines

Follow these guidelines when creating your PDF:

  • Create your PDF using Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. If you have Acrobat Standard or Acrobat Professional, you can also create high-quality PDFs using the Adobe PDF printer driver from almost any program.
  • You can use the built-in PDF-making functionality of Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows or Adobe PDF printer driver.
  • For Mac, use the Adobe PDF printer driver in any product other than Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign. If you do not have that:
    • Go to Print Your File
    • Click the PDF button
    • Choose Save as PDF-X-4
    • If you do not have the PDF-X option, choose the highest print quality PDF.
[accordionHead]PDFs from Illustrator[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with Adobe Illustrator CS4. Other versions of Illustrator will be similar.

Smartpress PDF Specifications

Smartpress’ online printing services include a PDF job options file available for download. With this job options file, PDFs will be created with exact print specifications for Smartpress. This job options file is only compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file. Be sure to set your Document Size to the same width and height as your final printed piece.

Creating Your PDF

To save the file as a PDF:

  • Choose File, Save As
  • Change format to Adobe PDF, give it a filename and click Save

Make a PDF with the Smartpress .joboptions File:

  • From presets, choose [Smartpress_V.19.12.07.joboptions]
  • Click Save PDF
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Make a PDF with Standard Presets:

  • From presets, choose [PDF/X-4]
  • Click the Marks and Bleeds section
  • Check Trim Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings
  • For prints larger than 11” x 17”, click the Compression section and change Color and Grayscale down sampling to 200 PPI for images above 200 PPI
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Flattening PDFs for Order Submission

We request that you send a “flattened” digital print file.

To flatten your print file in Adobe Illustrator, first create a “working version” of your file by finishing your design and saving it, just as it is, using the methods listed above. Saving a “working version” is important because once the file is flattened, you can’t edit it. If you must make changes, having this original file saved will save you the time of recreating your design.

After you’ve saved the working file in Adobe Illustrator, save a flattened version of your digital print file:

  • Click on Window, then Layers to open the Layers palette
  • Click Flatten Artwork in the Layers menu
  • Save this file with a different name than your working file

This flattened PDF is the one you will submit to Smartpress.

[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]PDFs from InDesign[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with Adobe InDesign CS4. Versions of InDesign prior to CS2 are not recommended.

Smartpress PDF Specifications

Smartpress has a PDF job options file available for download. With this job options file, PDFs will be created with exact print specifications for Smartpress. This job options file is only compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file. Be sure to set your document size to the same width and height as your final printed piece. When creating or editing document settings:

  • Click More Options
  • Set bleed to 0.125″ on all sides

Creating Your PDF

To save the file as a PDF:

  • Choose File, Export
  • Post Change format to Adobe PDF, give it a filename and click Save

Make a PDF with the Smartpress .joboptions File:

  • From presets, choose [Smartpress_V.19.12.07.joboptions]
  • Click Save PDF
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Make a PDF with Standard Presets:

  • From presets, choose [PDF/X-4]
  • Click the Marks and Bleeds section
  • Check Crop Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings
  • For prints larger than 11” x 17”, click the Compression section and change Color and Grayscale down sampling to 200 PPI for images above 200 PPI
  • Click Export
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Flattening PDFs for Order Submission

We request that you send a “flattened” digital print file.

To flatten your print file in Adobe InDesign, first create a “working version” of your file by finishing your design and saving it, just as it is, using the methods listed above. Saving a “working version” is important because once the file is flattened, you can’t edit it. If you must make changes, having this original file saved will save you the time of recreating your design.

After you’ve saved the working file, save a flattened version of your digital print file:

  • Click on Window, then Layers to open the Layers palette
  • A list of your document’s layers will appear
  • Press the Control key and select all of the layers in the list
  • Click Merge Layers in the Layers menu
  • Save this file with a different name than your working file

This flattened PDF is the one you will submit to Smartpress.

Converting RGB and Spot Colors to CMYK

InDesign is different from Photoshop and Illustrator because there can be a mixture of spot colors, RGB and CMYK images. If there are spot colors or RGB, please convert the document to CMYK to prevent printing issues.

This can be done when making the PDF with these settings:

  • Color Conversion: Convert to Destination (Preserve Numbers)
  • Destination: Coated GRACoL 2006 (ISO 12647-2:2004)
  • Profile Inclusion Policy: Include Destination Profile

If spot colors were used, making them CMYK process colors helps to guarantee proper printing. The Ink Manager panel can be found in the dropdown menu in the Swatches panel:

Save PDF InDesign Ink Manager

InDesign Effects and Your PDF

There are certain effects that will not convert to a PDF correctly, therefore the file will not print as it was intended. Please keep this in mind when making your PDF.

Drop Shadow on Spot Colors Rendering Issues

These may cause issues with the PDF:

  • Spot color with transparencies: please do not use spot colors when there are transparency interactions
  • InDesign gradients or placed Illustrator files that contain gradients: any applied effect could cause issues
[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]PDFs from Photoshop[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe InDesign is the recommended text layout program (CS2 or later versions). However, it is possible to set up documents with text in Photoshop with the following instructions.

Remember, crop marks need to be included in the file, as shown below:

Document with Bleed

Smartpress PDF Specifications

Smartpress has a PDF job options file available for download. With this job options file, PDFs will be created with exact print specifications for Smartpress. This job options file is only compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file. Be sure to set your document size to the same width and height as your final printed piece.

Creating Your PDF

  • To save the file as a PDF:
  • Choose File, Save As
  • Choose Photoshop PDF (we highly recommend having the Layers box checked)

Make a PDF with the Smartpress .joboptions File:

  • From presets, choose [Smartpress_V.19.12.07.joboptions]
  • Click Save PDF
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Make a PDF With Standard Presets:

  • From presets, choose [PDF/X-4]
  • Select Compression in the left menu and make sure the lowest compression is at 425PPI. For larger items (signs, posters, trade show graphics, etc.), 200PPI is sufficient.

  • Choose ZIP in the Compression dropdown for all images
  • Give your File a name and click Save
  • Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to verify that it exported properly

Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for previewing. If you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free here. It’s always a good idea to give it a final proof for spelling, layout, etc.

Additional Information for Booklets

Because they are a multi-page job, there are some additional considerations for booklet printing.

  • Do not upload each page individually. When a PDF of all the pages has been made, put them all in one folder. Then zip that folder and upload the .zip file.
  • The first two pages and the last two pages of your document will be your booklet cover. If you don’t want any printing on the inside covers of your booklet, simply include blank pages in your document.
  • Naming your files is very important. To ensure pages are printed in the correct order, you must name the pages in the order you’d like them printed. For example, name the cover “Page 1”, the inside cover “Page 2” and so on.
  • If the file is larger than 200MB, please use FTP to upload it. The maximum file size is 2GB per upload. It is not common to exceed this, but it can happen. Upload separate folders containing individual booklet page PDFs one at a time.
  • For specific booklet requirements, please see additional About Booklets.
[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]PDFs from Word[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with Microsoft Word.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file.

Creating Your PDF

To save the file as a PDF:

  • Click File, then Save As
  • Select PDF from the “Save as type” list

Save PDF Word

  • Click Options

Save PDF Word Options

  • Click Print background colors and images

Save PDF Word Background Image

  • Click OK and Save

Print with a Bleed in Word

  • Open Word and create a new document
  • Go to File and choose Page Setup
  • Click Paper Size, then Manage Custom Sizes
  • Click the plus (+) icon to add a new Custom Page Size
  • Set the name and paper size to 8.75” x 11.25”
  • Change all Non-printable Area values to 0 then click OK

This will bring you back to the Page Setup window and you will see Page Size now shows the custom page size you just created (8.75” x 11.25”). Click OK to confirm and you are now ready to create your design.

Once your design is completed you will need to create a PDF:

  • Go to File > Print and select your Adobe PDF printer
  • Open the Options, choose High-Quality Print and click Print

You now have a high-resolution PDF from Word that includes bleed. If you open the PDF in Acrobat, you will see the document size is 8.75” x 11.25” (along the bottom of the window). This means the final trim will take 1/8″ off each side to make 8.5” x 11”, which meets the requirements of your commercial printer.

Open your PDF and review it. Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for previewing. If you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free here. It’s always a good idea to give it a final proof for spelling, layout, etc.

[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]PDFs from Publisher[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with Microsoft Publisher.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file.

Creating Your PDF

To save the file as a PDF:

  • Click File, then Save As
  • Select PDF from the “Save as type” list

Save PDF Publisher

  • Click Options

Save PDF Options in Publisher

  • Make sure High quality printing is highlighted

Save PDF Quality in Publisher

  • Choose Print Options
  • Choose One page per sheet
  • Change the Paper Size to something large enough to account for your bleed and crop marks (e.g., for an 8.5” x 11″ document, try 8.75” x 11.25”)
  • Under Printer’s Marks check the boxes for Crop Marks, Allow Bleeds and Bleed Marks
  • Click OK to exit out of Print Options
  • Click OK to exit out of Publish Options
  • Save your PDF file to a location on your computer

Save PDF Publisher One Page

Open your PDF and review it. Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for previewing. If you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free here. It’s always a good idea to give it a final proof for spelling, layout, etc.

[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]PDFs from LibreOffice[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

The example below shows how to make a PDF with LibreOffice.

Bleed Requirements

Please make sure that your document contains a bleed. For more information on bleeds, visit Bleed & Borders.

Bleeds of 1/8″ are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets. For larger format items, such as signs, posters and trade show graphics, a 1/4″ bleed is required.

Once you determine which type of product you are printing, make sure you account for the correct bleed when setting up your file.

Creating Your PDF

To save your file as a PDF:

  • Click File, then Export as PDF
  • Select PDF from the “Save as type” list

Save PDF in Libre

  • Under the General tab make sure JPEG Compression is set to 100% and image resolution is at 300 PPI
  • Check Embed OpenDocument file (this makes the PDF easily editable in LibreOffice)
  • Check PDF/A-1a
  • Check Export automatically inserted blank pages

Save PDF in Libre Initial

  • Click the Initial View tab and select Page only under Panes
  • Under Magnification, choose Default
  • Under Page layout, choose Simple page

Save PDF Libre User Save

  • Click the User Interface tab and select Display document title under Window options
  • Under Bookmarks, choose All bookmark levels

Save PDF in Libre Links

  • Click the Link tab and select Default mode under Cross-document links

Open your PDF and review it. Adobe Acrobat Reader is recommended for previewing. If you need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it for free here. It’s always a good idea to give it a final proof for spelling, layout, etc.

[/accordionBody] [accordionHead]Other PDF Software[/accordionHead] [accordionBody]

If you wish to attempt to create your PDF in some other product, please follow these guidelines as closely as possible:

  • Set your images to 300 DPI for anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters or booklets.
  • For larger items, such as signs, posters, trade show graphics, set your images to 200 PPI.
  • Use high-quality images with JPEG compression
  • Embed all fonts
  • If you’re including RGB images, please embed the RGB profiles. This is sometimes referred to as “tagging.” If your RGB images are not tagged with a specific profile, they will be treated as sRGB.
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