There are several ways you can create a PDF file that works for the printing press. Many book printers will have very specific requirements for their pre press department, and it is not my intent to give you a list here, but simply to provide the most general settings and procedures used for book printing.

book printer

Book Printing


1-      What is a PDF? PDF stands for Portable Document Format.  The purpose for creating a PDF is to allow one person to give to another a document, where each may not possess the same “native” application. One may have Quark Express and the other not. The PDF thus allows one person to give to the other, with dissimilar applications on their computers, a document that each can read and in many cases, especially with the latter Acrobat versions, can even edit. This is especially important for your book printing company.

2-      Creating a PDF from the major graphics programs: These “native” applications that can be used in creating your files for book printing will generally have an export feature that will create the PDF usually in a print ready fashion. If you need bleeds, the most accurate way to create them, would be to set them up in the native application, so that when you go to make your PDF, you can choose “use the settings from InDesign” or similar. Programs that either “export to” or “save as”, as in Photoshop that generally provide you with this feature and that is accurate for general book printing presses are Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign all from Adobe. The latter versions will export to an Acrobat 6 file, which is good as it “flattens” the file, and can minimize any problems of objects dropping out that were linked to the native file. Corel gives you a reasonable PDF and Publisher from Microsoft less so.

3-      When faced with using software that is not built to export as a PDF, such as Word or other word processing applications then you will need the Acrobat program in order to create accurate PDF’s. There are other companies who make “PDF makers” on the market and I have tried several and was not happy. In the case of using these applications which cannot export to a PDF or may do so, but with limited control of what you wind up with, you will need to use the “print to” feature on your computer and choose Adobe Acrobat as your book printer. Your book printer will not be happy if you give the a PDF made using default settings that have low resolution due to the fact that you made a PDF for the web but for a web book printing press.

4-      When you either export or “print to” to create your PDF one thing that you must do, if you are intending to give these files to your book printer, is to choose the setting at the top box for “Press Quality, under “properties, top right corner of the box. You can further make general choices for sheet fed, web press, coated or uncoated. Your book printing company may also give you instructions to additionally choose more of the sub settings. You can use the security settings or not, I suggest not in case your book printing company needs to edit, and choose your page size.

5-      You may need to “add” a size, as the default is “Letter” or 8.5 x 11, unless a size fits you under the drop down menu. When adding a size, if you do not have bleeds, than just add the size you want. If you do have bleeds, you will need to increase the dimensions in both directions to accommodate the bleeds. If your press desires ¼” for bleeds, then your image size becomes 9 x 11.5”. Thus, you make a PDF to that size or you lose those bleeds created. If you are adding crop marks and registration marks, this may increase your image area to 10 x 12.5” and you therefore need to make a PDF to that size. Under the color tag, if not color, choose black, so that you do not make a file larger than necessary.

6-      I saved this one for last as if not done creates a headache for both the book printer and you. On the properties box you get after click on it, you will see five “check boxes” on the lower left. The 3rd one down reads; “Rely on system fonts only, do not use document fonts”. The program default is to have that checked. UNCHECK THAT BOX! If left checked you are severely limiting any editing for mistakes or changes that the book printer can make. Also always ask your book printing company how they want the PDF created. They will send you instructions.


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