Any PDF file you provide to ONAC will be
printed by more than one newspaper, and each will process the file
with different equipment and methods. The goal of the setup and
method recommended here is to produce PDF files that perform reliably
under the widest range of conditions and uses.
Our recommendation is simple: create PDF
files by (1) printing to the AdobePS printer from the original application,
which writes a Postscript file to disk; and (2) using the Acrobat
Distiller to convert that Postscript file into a PDF file.
Once set up and configured, this approach
has proven to give the most consistent, trouble-free, automatable
results for all Acrobat versions, all types of ads, and all operating
Acrobat software has been developed to serve many purposes, but
in this document we are discussing its use for creating newspaper
advertising in PDF format for distribution to multiple newspapers
over the Internet.
Acrobat vs. Reader
In order to create PDF files, or to export EPS images of PDF files
that can be placed in a page layout program, you must purchase and
install the full Acrobat application. This is not the same as the
free Acrobat Reader program, which can be downloaded from the Adobe
Systems web site. The Acrobat Reader only allows viewing and printing
of PDF files.
PDF files are compatible with both Macintosh and Windows computers.
The only issue that causes problems between the two operating systems
is that of TrueType fonts. TrueType fonts are native to Windows
computers only and are rarely found on Macintosh computers. Postscript
Type 1 fonts are compatible with both Macintosh and Windows computers,
so Type 1 is the format in which fonts should be embedded in PDF
files. On Windows computers, embedding fonts in Type 1 format requires
the use of the AdobePS printer, installed and configured as described
At the time of this writing, Adobe Systems has released versions 3,
4, and 5 of Acrobat. Each has unique characteristics, but it is possible,
with no loss of quality, to create PDF files with Acrobat 4 and 5
that are compatible with Acrobat 3. We recommend that you do so unless
there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. The Acrobat
Distiller settings given below for all versions are designed to
produce PDFs that are compatible with all versions.
PDF editing and font embedding
One major new feature in Acrobat 5 is greater freedom to edit the
text in PDF files. This comes at a price, however. Fonts are normally
embedded in PDF files as "subsets": that is, font information in
the original PDF file only applies to the characters that are actually
used in the document. This drastically reduces the size of PDF files
that contain text in many different typestyles.
If, in Acrobat 5, you edit the text in a PDF file, the current
font assigned to that text (or one which Acrobat sees as similar)
will be COMPLETELY embedded before the editing actually takes place.
If you are editing the PDF on a Windows computer, the font will
be embedded in TrueType format, even if the original font was embedded
in the PDF file as a subset in Type 1 format.
Thus, font embedding (including font format) can change completely
when you edit even a single character in a PDF file. For this reason,
we recommmend that you make any necessary changes in the original
document and then recreate the PDF file. This will ensure that fonts
are embedded only as subsets and in Type 1 format.
Bundled PDF utilities
Because Acrobat is so universally used as an output format for page
layout programs, newer versions of such programs as PageMaker, Quark
Xpress, and InDesign automatically install some version of the Acrobat
Distiller. This is usually integrated with an export utility designed
to create a PDF file directly from any document.
These automatic, "bundled" installations vary widely. In some
cases, if you install a new version of Acrobat, the export utility
in your page layout program may still be using its own automatically
installed version for creating PDF files.
For this and other reasons, we recommend that you avoid using
the automatic PDF export utility in your page layout program, and
instead install a full version of Acrobat. This will allow you to
install and use the AdobePS printer, which is the most reliable
way to create error-free PDF files.
Why use AdobePS printer?
TrueType fonts (Windows)
Because Windows primarily uses TrueType fonts, Windows users are
especially advised to use this method of writing a file to disk
for distilling into a PDF. Some page layout programs allow you to
save individual pages as EPS files, and because Acrobat Distiller
can distill EPS files, it is tempting to use this method as a shortcut.
In Windows, however, TrueType fonts will be either be embedded in
TrueType format (especially with Distiller 5) or not at all.
An EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) file is a special type of Postscript
image file that is intended to be embedded in a larger Postscript
layout. Therefore, on both Macintosh and Windows systems, an EPS
file does not contain information about the page on which it was
created, so you must go into the Job Options area and set the default
page size to match the size of each EPS image you distill.
You can print to the AdobePS printer from any application you use
(graphics program, page layout, word processor, spreadsheet) and
distill the resulting file into a PDF. Other methods of creating
PDF files from those applications, if available, tend to produce
unpredictable results. Feel free to send us a sample PDF file if
you wish to test some method other than the AdobePS print method.
Installing the AdobePS printer
Each version of Acrobat automatically installs three main elements:
(1) Acrobat (Acrobat Exchange in version 3), which reads, prints,
and exports EPS images from PDF files; (2) the Acrobat Distiller,
which creates PDF files from the Postscript output of the AdobePS
printer; and (3) the browser plug-ins, which allow you to read and
print PDF files directly from the Internet rather than copying them
to your hard disk and then opening them in Acrobat.
In most situations, the AdobePS printer is not installed automatically,
and you will need to install it manually after Acrobat is installed.
The AdobePS printer is installed from the Acrobat CD and can be
found in a folder under "Drivers" or "Utilities" (depending on your
operating system and the Acrobat version). The folder, or the installer
or setup file, is usually named with a version number, such as AdobePS
4.8.13. When you run it, it installs a new printer on your computer.
Many Macintosh computers include some version of the AdobePS printer
which serves as the driver for laser printers attached to the system
or the network. If you see AdobePS in the Chooser, you may think
that the AdobePS printer is already installed. However, you will
need a second instance of AdobePS to set up for creating PDF files.
To determine whether you need to install AdobePS on a Macintosh
system, click on AdobePS in the Chooser. If it displays a list of
the printers you normally use, you will need to install another
AdobePS printer. If it displays as a "Virtual printer", click "Setup"
and make sure that the PPD associated with it is that for Acrobat
Distiller. If not, you will need to install another AdobePS printer
from the Acrobat CD and associate it with the Acrobat Distiller
PPD, which will be offered during the installation. It should be
installed as a "local" printer that prints to a file on disk (that
is, as a "virtual" printer) rather than to a printer port.
To see whether you already have the AdobePS printer on your system,
click Start > Settings > Printers. If any printer is named "Acrobat
Distiller" or something similar, you already have the AdobePS printer
on your system, and you need only check its configuration as described
NOTE: If you have an Acrobat Distiller printer on your system
but you did not install it yourself, it may have been installed
automatically by your page layout program. If so, changing its configuration
may alter or disable the automatic PDF export utility in the page
To avoid this, you can install a new AdobePS printer from the
Acrobat CD and name it differently. (Any number can be installed
without conflict, as long as they are named differently.) This would
then be the printer you configure as described below.
The AdobePS (Acrobat Distiller) printer should be installed as
a "local" printer that prints to a file on disk rather than to a
printer port, and it should be associated with the Acrobat Distiller
PPD. These options will be offered during the installation.
Configuring in Windows
The instructions included here apply, with some variations, to all
versions of the Windows operating system. Screen shots were created
on a Windows 98 computer, and settings may appear in different places
or with different names in later versions (Windows 2000, ME, and
The most important feature of the AdobePS printer (also called
the Acrobat Distiller printer) is that, configured as described
below, it converts TrueType fonts to Type 1 format for embedding
in PDF files. This conversion MUST be done if PDF files are to be
used on Macintosh systems, and the majority of newspapers use Macintosh
computers for graphics, page layout, and imagesetting.
Because PDF files are used for so many purposes, the settings for
a newly installed Acrobat Distiller are not suitable for newspaper
advertising. These settings can be changed easily, and (in Acrobat
4 and 5) different combinations of settings can be saved with descriptive
filenames so that they can be reloaded later for specific purposes.
To use the Acrobat Distiller, you must first create a file on
disk by printing to the AdobePS printer. Then you open the Distiller,
open the file created by the AdobePS printer, and save it as a PDF
file. This process can be automated, as described *here*.
The most critical settings in the Acrobat Distiller are the Job
Options. These tell the Distiller whether and how to embed fonts,
how to compress text and images, and how to deal with color. The
default, out-of-the-box settings are not suitable for this use of
Acrobat and should be changed as described below.
To change the job options, first start the Acrobat Distiller.
When it is ready, choose "Job Options" from the Settings menu (Acrobat
4 and 5) or Distiller menu (Acrobat 3).
The descriptions in the following sections apply to both Windows
and Macintosh computers: only the "look and feel" is different.
Each tab is shown in a screen shot with the settings described below
Saving job options
In Acrobat 4 and 5, named sets of job options are provided as a
starting point. We recommend that you start with the "Print" or
"Print optimized" settings and then change them as described below.
Once you have made changes, click the "Save" button to save the
settings with a relevant name (such as "ONAC"), and they will become
the new startup settings for the Distiller.
Job option settings
Click your Acrobat version below for job options instructions and
All Acrobat versions discussed here provide the "watched folders"
feature, which allows you to automate creation of PDF files. You
define for Acrobat a folder to watch, and it creates two folders
within that folder: one called "in" and one called "out". Whenever
Acrobat Distiller is active, it monitors the "in" folder, and when
it detects a Postscript file there, it distills it into a PDF and
saves it in the "out" folder along with a log file.
If you are using watched folders, you can print several files
from the AdobePS printer to the "in" folder. Next time you open
Acrobat Distiller, it will distill everything that is there and
deposit the finished PDF files in the "out" folder.
Testing your PDFs
ONAC has a reputation for providing relatively problem-free PDF
files, and this is because we test each file that we receive before
passing it on to the newspapers. Advertisers and agencies can save
themselves time and stress by performing these tests before sending
out PDF advertising.
For a PDF file to print correctly, all fonts used in the original
application MUST be embedded in the PDF. Embedding means simply
that the necessary information to render the characters, on the
screen and in print, is contained in a font matrix within the PDF.
To minimize file size, font information should also be "subsetted",
which means that the file contains information about only those
characters that are used in the document, rather than the entire
printable character set.
When you look at a PDF file on the screen, you cannot tell whether
the fonts are embedded. To check for font embedding, you must choose
"Document Info" or "Document Properties" from the File menu, then
choose "Fonts" from the submenu. Click here
for a screen shot. The table lists all fonts in the PDF file
and indicates what font and format is being used for the display.
If the "Used font" column says "Embedded" or "Embedded subset"
for each font in the list, the fonts have all been embedded. If
the "Used font" column contains a font name, that font was not embedded
and is being substituted by a similar font on your computer.
If the "Format" column says "Type 1", the font was correctly embedded
in Postscript outline format. If this column says "TrueType", the
font was not embedded in Postscript outline format and will probably
fail to print, or print incorrectly, from a Macintosh computer.
Because more than half of Oregon's newspapers use Macintosh production
systems, it is important to ensure that fonts are embedded in Type
Most newspapers export an EPS image file from the PDF file. The
EPS is then imported into a page layout program from which the page
is eventually printed to film. This is the preferred method for
color ads in particular.
At ONAC, we export an EPS image file from every PDF we receive,
then we place the image into a Quark Xpress page. If errors occur
during export or import, we will request that a new PDF file be
submitted. Especially on color ads or those with complex graphics
and layering, advertisers should export an EPS file from at least
one sample ad in a group and place it into a page layout program
to ensure that this process is error-free.
Print to Postscript printer
The final test of a PDF file and its exported EPS is printing from
the page layout to a Postscript printer. Font errors and graphic
anomalies sometimes don't show up until the image is printed. Again,
at least a sample of a complex ad should be printed from an exported
EPS to ensure that ONAC will not be requesting a new file.
PDF file size
In the newspaper, bitmap images will be screened at 85 lines per
inch, which means that the resolution of color and grayscale images
need not and should not be higher than 170 dots per inch
(dpi). Excessive image resolution is one of the two main causes
of oversized PDF files.
The second main cause of oversized PDF files is inadequate compression
of bitmap images. To ensure that your PDF files are optimally compressed,
we recommend that you use the job
options specified above for compression. These recommendations
exceed the quality standards set by the Associated Press for
their AdSend digital ad delivery service.
Acrobat handles color very well, but advertisers
who produce color advertising should be aware of certain pitfalls.
CMYK vs. RGB
Most advertisers are aware of this, but
it is worth repeating: color that is to be printed must be either
CMYK (also known as "process") color or spot color. RGB color (the
color mode of web graphics and of computer monitors) produces washed-out
results and should never be used for print advertising.
Most importantly, if you are using Acrobat
3 or 4 to create PDF files, be sure that you UNcheck the "Advanced"
job option that converts all CMYK color to RGB color.
Most spot color is written to PDF format
in such a way that it is compatible with most newspaper production
systems. This includes spot color that is assigned in a page layout
program as well as that within separate images created in a graphics
program. Newspapers may, at their discretion, recast spot colors
as CMYK blends to avoid running extra color units. In most situations,
this is easily done by the newspaper.
Photoshop Duotone images are an exception.
If you create a duotone image in this special Photoshop mode, the
newspaper can separate the spot color but, in most cases, cannot
digitally convert it to process color. For this reason, it is best
to convert Photoshop duotones to multichannel mode before saving
as an EPS file.
Most newer production systems are designed to ignore embedded device
profiles unless they are needed, and newer graphics and page layout
programs often enforce color management invisibly. If you are using
Acrobat 3, PDF files created with later Acrobat versions may contain
color management information that is unreadable by Acrobat 3, and
Acrobat will produce an error indicating that it cannot find a specific
color space. The only solution to this problem is to upgrade to
a later version of Acrobat that can handle embedded color management