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Additional checks in the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)

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About additional checks and properties

The Preflight tool includes a collection of additional checks (called rules in previous versions of Acrobat) that you can add to a profile. These checks are available from the Custom Checks section of each profile. You can modify these checks in a variety of ways, depending on the PDF property they describe. You can also create single checks that can be quickly run without being part of a profile. If single checks are run, all flagged content appears in the results as errors.

Some properties are defined by a simple statement that is either true or false for a given object in a PDF—for example, “Font is not embedded” or “Color managed color used.” Some property statements specify relationships between the actual value of a property (for example, text size or spot color name) and the value you enter in the dialog box (for example, “12” or “Deep blue”). Other statements compare numerical values.

Relationship between property value and typed value

Relationship between numerical values

Boolean properties

is equal to

is not equal to

is less than

is true


does not contain

is less than or equal to

is not true

begins with

does not begin with

is equal to

ends with

does not end with

is not equal to

is contained in

is not contained in

is greater than

is greater than or equal to

Property groups

The properties for defining a check are grouped in categories. You can view a list of all property groups in the Edit Check dialog box. In addition, you can view the individual properties that make up each group, as well as an explanation of how the Preflight tool uses the properties.

The following property groups are available:


Includes information about how text is rendered, whether it is scaled anamorphically or slanted, or whether it can be mapped to Unicode and thus copied or exported correctly.


Describes all aspects of a font in which text is rendered. Note that text size is a text property, not a font property, because a font can be used at many sizes throughout a PDF document. Text size is included in the Text property group.


Includes image resolution, bit depth, number of pixels, rendering intent, and more.


Includes color characteristics, such as color spaces, alternate color spaces, patterns, and spot colors. Alternate color spaces enable Acrobat to display or print certain spot colors and multicomponent spot colors (DeviceN). For example, to reproduce the color orange on a monitor or printer, the PDF requires an alternate color space (made up of RGB or CMYK colors) that defines what the spot color looks like.

ICC Color Spaces

Includes properties for accessing the characteristics in the embedded ICC profiles, which define the ICC color spaces. ICC profiles contain data for translating device-dependent color to a device-independent color space, such as Lab. This helps you reproduce color consistently across different platforms, devices, and ICC-compliant applications (such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign). A document that contains objects in different color spaces (such as RGB, CMYK, and Grayscale) could have different ICC profiles for calibrating the color for each color space.

Graphic State Properties For Fill

Includes graphic state information about how areas are filled, particularly the color values of the current color space.

Graphic State Properties For Stroke

Includes graphic state information about how lines are drawn, particularly the color values of the current color space, as well as line-specific properties, such as thickness.

General Graphic State Properties

Includes settings that control how text, graphics, or images are displayed in a PDF page. Overprint settings, for example, are included here.


Includes graphic state settings relevant to prepress operations, such as screen angles, frequencies, and spot shapes.

Page Description

Includes general information about objects on a PDF page, such as the type of object (for example, whether it is an image, a piece of text, or a smooth shade) or whether it is inside or outside the viewable area of the page, or how far it is from the trim box.


Includes properties for analyzing all existing OPI links (comments), whether from OPI version 1.3 or 2.0. The possible OPI entries in a PDF are the same as in PostScript files.

Embedded PostScript

Refers to the PostScript code that can be embedded into the PDF. There are three properties: one for a PostScript operator used directly in a page description; one for PostScript code embedded in a PostScript XObject; and one for an early form of a PostScript XObject, a PostScript Form XObject.

Object Metadata

Includes information embedded with the object, such as its creator, resolution, color space, copyright, and keywords applied to it. For example, if a Photoshop image with metadata is placed in an InDesign document, and the document is converted to PDF, this information can be retrieved and checked by properties in this group.


Includes most characteristics of comments and drawing markups, traps, and printer marks.

Form Fields

Includes properties for form fields.


Checks for optional content, which sometimes affect the appearance of a page.


Includes page numbers and page sizes that represent the various document boxes supported by Adobe PDF 1.3 and later technology (media box, bleed box, trim box, and art box). This group also includes plate names for PDF pages that belong to a pre-separated PDF.


Includes all the pieces of information that apply to the PDF as a whole, such as whether the document is encrypted, contains form fields, or contains bookmarks.

Document Info

Lists all the standard entries that can also be accessed by the Document Info dialog box in Acrobat, and information that has been standardized by the ISO 15930 standard (PDF/X).

Document Metadata

Includes information embedded within the document, such as its title, author, copyright, and keywords applied to it. This information is also available in the Document Metadata section of the Document Properties dialog box in Acrobat. (Choose File > Properties, click the Description tab, and then click Additional Metadata.)


Includes information about the signatures in the document.

Structured PDF

Includes several basic properties for the tagging structure in a tagged PDF, for which the PDF/A standard defines constraints.

Output Intents For PDF/X, PDF/A, or PDF/E

Defines which output process the PDF has been prepared for. A PDF intended for high-resolution printed output typically contains an output intent with an embedded ICC profile, for use by a proofing device or a device’s RIP (raster image processor).

Output Intent For PDF/X, PDF/A, or PDF/E (ICC Profile Properties)

Includes properties for accessing information from an ICC profile embedded in the output intent. This group includes the same properties as ICC profiles for objects, such as profile name and type. The ICC profile describes the output condition of the device where the document will be imaged.

Efficiency Of PDF Content Stream

Helps determine how efficiently page descriptions are encoded. For example, it is possible to include the text Hello as a text operator for the whole word, or as several text operators for each character in the word. The latter is less efficient and reduces the speed of page rendering. The efficiency checks return percentages for several types of operators. A smaller value in most cases is better than a higher value.

Errors In PDF Syntax

Returns information about specific errors in the syntax of a PDF. For example, if certain keys required by the PDF specification are not included, Acrobat may still be able to render the file. For predictable PDF rendering, however, it is preferable to encode all PDFs in strict compliance with the PDF specification.

Errors In Structured PDF

Returns information about errors in the tag structure of a tagged PDF. For example, an error is returned if the type of a tagged object is not properly specified. The properties in this group help identify errors in tag structure.

Errors In PDF Content Stream

Returns information about errors in the page descriptions in a PDF. For example, three number operands are required to define RGB color. If there are fewer than three operators, it is not possible to render the page. Properties in this group help determine the reasons why a PDF page isn’t rendered.

Preflight Edit Profile dialog box overview (Custom Checks)

The Profiles list in the Preflight Edit Profile dialog box contains predefined profiles included with Acrobat, and any custom profiles you’ve created. If you select Custom Checks, you get more options for selecting and modifying items. The buttons at the bottom of the column perform basic editing functions, such as duplicating, removing, and creating. The search box helps you locate a specific check.

Custom checks
Custom checks

A. Search B. Description C. Alerts D. Enable Check  E. Create New Check And Include in Current Profile F. Duplicate Check And Assign To Current Profile G. Edit Check  H. Remove Check From Profile I. Include In Profile J. New Check  K. Duplicate Check  L. Edit Check  M. Delete Check  

Add checks to a profile

Acrobat includes several predefined preflight profiles, which you can use as is or modify to create custom profiles. You can modify a profile that nearly meets your needs by adding one or more checks that analyze the document using different criteria. For example, an existing check might detect all text that is not plain black—that is, text that uses black plus some amount of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Because this could be a problem when you print small text, you could modify the check so that it flags text objects that use more than one color and have a text size equal to or smaller than 12 points.

You can reuse a check in any profile where it’s needed. Keep in mind, however, that if you modify a check that’s being used in multiple profiles, the check is modified in every profile that uses it. To avoid making unnecessary modifications, rename the check for a particular profile. Before editing a preflight profile, you must unlock it.

  1. In the Preflight dialog box, select a profile, and click the Edit link next to the profile name, or choose Edit Profiles from the Options menu.

  2. Choose Unlocked from the pop-up menu in the upper-left.

  3. Select Custom Checks from the list of items displayed under the profile name.
  4. Work with the panels by doing any of the following:
    • To quickly find a specific check, type all or part of its name in the search box. Only those items containing the search term are displayed. Removing the name from the search box displays all the checks again.

    • To add a check to the profile, select the check in the right panel, click the left-facing arrow, and adjust the alert type, if needed, from the pop-up menu at the lower left of the dialog box. The alert type, which is Error by default, specifies what kind of alert the Preflight tool displays if it finds a mismatch. You can add as many checks as needed.

    • To remove a check from the profile, select it in the left panel, and click the right-facing arrow.

    • Double-click a check to edit it.

Create or modify custom checks

Although you can modify any unlocked predefined check, it’s best to leave the predefined checks as they were configured. Instead, you can create a new check or base a check on an existing one.


Checks with locks are in locked profiles and cannot be edited until the profiles that use the check are all unlocked.

Create a custom check for a profile

  1. In the Profiles panel of the Preflight dialog box, click the Select Profiles button .

  2. Select a profile and click the Edit button next to the profile name.

  3. If necessary, choose Unlocked from the pop-up menu.

  4. On the left side of the dialog box, under the profile, select Custom Checks.
  5. In the Preflight Edit Profile dialog box, under Custom Checks In This Profile, do one of the following:
    • In the list of checks, click the New icon .

    • To base the new check on an existing one, select a check and click the Duplicate icon .

  6. In the left side of the New/ Duplicate Check dialog box, do any of the following, as needed:

    • Type the message you want to display when the check finds a mismatch (fires) and when it doesn’t find a mismatch. For example, if you’re defining a check against the use of spot colors, your message when no mismatch is found could be “Document has no spot colors.”

    • Type an explanation for the check.

    • Select the items to apply the check to.

  7. On the right side of the dialog box, select a group, select a property for the group, and then click Add.

Create a single check

  1. In the Profiles panel of the Preflight dialog box, click the Select Single Checks button .

  2. Choose Options > Create Check.

  3. On the right side of the dialog box, select a group, select a property for the group, and then click Add.

    The new single check appears in the group appropriate to its group and property.

Duplicate a single check

  1. In the Profiles panel of the Preflight dialog box, click the Select Single Checks button .

  2. Select an existing check, and choose Options > Duplicate Check.

Set up favorite single checks

  1. In the Profiles panel of the Preflight dialog box, click the Select Single Checks button .

  2. Expand the groups as desired.
  3. Select a single check, click the flag next to the name, and then choose Favorite.

See where a check or property is used

  1. In the Preflight Edit Profile dialog box, double-click a check, and then click Usage in the Edit Check dialog box to see which profiles use the check.

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