Portable Document Format (PDF) is a universal file format that preserves the fonts, images, and layout of source documents created on a wide range of applications and platforms. Adobe PDF is the standard for the secure, reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents and forms around the world. Adobe PDF files are compact and complete, and can be shared, viewed, and printed by anyone with free Adobe Reader® software.
Adobe PDF is highly effective in print publishing workflows. By saving a composite of your artwork in Adobe PDF, you create a compact, reliable file that you or your service provider can view, edit, organize, and proof. Then, at the appropriate time in the workflow, your service provider can either output the Adobe PDF file directly, or process it using tools from various sources for such post-processing tasks as preflight checks, trapping, imposition, and color separation.
When you save in Adobe PDF, you can choose to create a PDF/X-compliant file. PDF/X (Portable Document Format Exchange) is a subset of Adobe PDF that eliminates many of the color, font, and trapping variables that lead to printing problems. PDF/X may be used wherever PDFs are exchanged as digital masters for print production—whether at the creation or output stage of the workflow, as long as the applications and output devices support PDF/X.
Adobe PDFs can solve the following problems associated with electronic documents:
Adobe PDF solution
Recipients can't open files because they don't have the applications used to create the files.
Anyone, anywhere can open a PDF. All you need is the free Adobe Reader software.
Combined paper and electronic archives are difficult to search, take up space, and require the application in which a document was created.
PDFs are compact and fully searchable, and can be accessed at any time using Reader. Links make PDFs easy to navigate.
Documents appear incorrectly on handheld devices.
Tagged PDFs allow text to reflow for display on mobile platforms such as Palm OS®, Symbian™, and Pocket PC® devices.
Documents with complex formatting are not accessible to visually impaired readers.
Tagged PDFs contain information on content and structure, which makes them accessible on-screen readers.
You can create different types of PDF files from within Illustrator. You can create multipage PDFs, layered PDFs, and PDF/x‑compliant files. Layered PDFs allow you to save one PDF with layers that can be used in different contexts. PDF/X‑compliant files ease the burden of color, font, and trapping issues.
Adobe InDesign and Adobe Acrobat both provide features for changing the visibility of layers in an Adobe PDF file. By saving a layered PDF file in Illustrator, you allow your illustration to be used in different contexts. For example, rather than creating multiple versions of the same illustration for a multilanguage publication, you can create one PDF file that contains text for all languages.
Set up your illustration so that the adjustable elements (those you want to show and hide) are in separate top-level layers, not nested within sublayers.
For example, if you’re creating an illustration to be repurposed for multiple languages, put the text for each language in a different top-level layer.
PDF/X (Portable Document Format Exchange) is an ISO standard for graphic content exchange that eliminates many of the color, font, and trapping variables that lead to printing problems. Illustrator supports PDF/X‑1a (for a CMYK workflow), PDF/X‑3 (for a color-managed workflow), and PDF/X-4 (for a color-managed workflow with added support for preserving transparency as live rather than flattened).
You can create a PDF/X‑compliant file during the process of saving a PDF file.
Illustrator provides the option to save a document in the smallest file size. To generate a compact PDF from Illustrator, do the following:
A PDF preset is a group of settings that affect the process of creating a PDF. These settings are designed to balance file size with quality, depending on how the PDF will be used. Most predefined presets are shared across Adobe Creative Suite components, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat. You can also create and share custom presets for your unique output requirements.
A few of the presets listed below are not available until you move them—as needed—from the Extras folder (where they are installed by default) to the Settings folder. Typically, the Extras and Settings folders are found in (Windows) ProgramData\Adobe\AdobePDF or (Mac OS) Library/Application Support/Adobe PDF. Some presets are not available in some Creative Suite components.
The custom settings are found in (Windows) Users/[username]/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings or (Mac OS) Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PDF/Settings.
Review your PDF settings periodically. The settings do not automatically revert to the default settings. Applications and utilities that create PDFs use the last set of PDF settings defined or selected.
High Quality Print
Creates PDFs for quality printing on desktop printers and proofing devices. This preset uses PDF 1.4, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, leaves color unchanged, and does not flatten transparency (for file types capable of transparency). These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later. In InDesign, this preset also creates tagged PDFs.
Illustrator Default (Illustrator only)
Creates a PDF in which all Illustrator data is preserved. PDFs created with this preset can be reopened in Illustrator without any loss of data.
Oversized Pages (Acrobat only)
Creates PDFs suitable for viewing and printing of engineering drawings larger than 200 x 200 inches. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader 7.0 and later.
PDF/A-1b: 2005 (CMYK and RGB) (Acrobat only)
Used for long-term preservation (archival) of electronic documents. PDF/A‑1b uses PDF 1.4 and converts all colors to either CMYK or RGB, depending on which standard you choose. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader versions 5.0 and later.
PDF/X‑1a (2001 and 2003)
PDF/X‑1a requires all fonts to be embedded, the appropriate marks and bleeds to be specified, and color to appear as CMYK, spot colors, or both. Compliant files must contain information describing the printing condition for which they are prepared. PDF files created with PDF/X‑1a compliance can be opened in Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 and later.
PDF/X‑1a uses PDF 1.3, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, creates untagged PDFs, and flattens transparency using the High Resolution setting.
note: The PDF/X1‑a:2003 and PDF/X‑3 (2003) presets are placed on your computer during installation but are not available until you move them from the Extras folder to the Settings folder.
This preset creates a PDF based on the ISO standard PDF/X-3:2002. The PDF created in this setting can be opened in Acrobat 4.0 and Acrobat Reader 4.0 or later.
This preset creating ISO PDF/X-4:2008 files supports live transparency (transparency is not flattened) and ICC color management. PDF files exported with this preset are in PDF 1.4 format. Images are downsampled and compressed and fonts are embedded in the same manner as with the PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 settings. You can create PDF/X-4:2008 compliant PDF files directly from Creative Suite 4 and 5 components including Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. Acrobat 9 Pro provides facilities to validate and preflight PDF files for PDF/X-4:2008 compliance as well as convert non-PDF/X files to PDF/X-4:2008 if possible.
Adobe recommends PDF/X-4:2008 as the optimal PDF file format for reliable PDF print publishing workflows.
Creates PDF files for high-quality print production (for example, for digital printing or for separations to an imagesetter or platesetter), but does not create files that are PDF/X-compliant. In this case, the quality of the content is the highest consideration. The objective is to maintain all the information in a PDF file that a commercial printer or print service provider needs in order to print the document correctly. This set of options uses PDF 1.4, converts colors to CMYK, downsamples color and grayscale images to 300 ppi and monochrome images to 1200 ppi, embeds subsets of all fonts, and preserves transparency (for file types capable of transparency).
These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.
Note: Before creating an Adobe PDF file to send to a commercial printer or print service provider, find out what the output resolution and other settings should be, or ask for a .joboptions file with the recommended settings. You might need to customize the Adobe PDF settings for a particular provider and then provide a .joboptions file of your own.
Rich Content PDF
Creates accessible PDF files that include tags, hyperlinks, bookmarks, interactive elements, and layers. This set of options uses PDF 1.5 and embeds subsets of all fonts. It also optimizes files for byte serving. These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 6.0 and Adobe Reader 6.0 and later. (The Rich Content PDF preset is in the Extras folder.)
note: This preset was called eBook in earlier versions of some applications.
Smallest File Size
Creates PDF files for displaying on the web, an intranet, or for email distribution. This set of options uses compression, downsampling, and a relatively low image resolution. It converts all colors to sRGB and embeds fonts. It also optimizes files for byte serving. For best results, avoid using this preset if you intend to print the PDF file.
These PDF files can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.
Magazine Ads 2006 (Japan)
This preset creates a PDF based on the creation rules designed by Digital Data Delivery committee.
Standard (Acrobat only)
Creates PDF files to be printed to desktop printers or digital copiers, published on a CD, or sent to a client as a publishing proof. This set of options uses compression and downsampling to keep the file size down, but also embeds subsets of all (allowed) fonts used in the file, converts all colors to sRGB, and prints to a medium resolution. Note that Windows font subsets are not embedded by default. PDF files created with this settings file can be opened in Acrobat 5.0 and Acrobat Reader 5.0 and later.
For more information about shared PDF settings for Creative Suite components, see the PDF Integration Guide on the Creative Suite DVD.
Although the default PDF presets are based on best practices, you may discover that your workflow, or perhaps your printer’s workflow, requires specialized PDF settings that aren’t available via any of the built‑in presets. If this is the case, you or your service provider can create custom presets.
To create a new preset, click New. If you want to base the new preset on an existing preset, select the preset first.
To edit an existing custom preset, select the preset and click Edit. (You cannot edit the default presets.)
To delete a preset, select it and click Delete.
To save a preset in a location other than the default Settings folder in the Adobe PDF folder, select it and click Save As. Specify a location and click Save.
Alternatively, you can create a custom preset when you save a PDF file by clicking Save Preset at the bottom of the Save Adobe PDF dialog box.
If you want to share your presets with a colleague, select one or more presets and click Export. The presets are saved to a separate .joboptions file, which you can then transfer to your colleague via e‑mail or over your computer network.
Illustrator comes with supplementary PDF presets (.joboptions) files. You may also receive custom PDF presets files from service providers and colleagues.