Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) Files

PDF stands for “Portable Document Format”. Its native software is Adobe Acrobat. It is the promise of PDF to be the final interchange file, ready for the printing plate. MPC uses PDFs for our intermediate file format between all Applications (Quark, InDesign, Publisher, etc.), to our digital proofer and our page imposition software.

The main special features of PDFs are that they can be self-contained into one file and can also be properly compressed for printing to optimize their portability. A PDF can contain (embed) graphics (all formats) and fonts (all kinds). It is a good analogy to think of PDF as final “Film”. There are limits to how much these files can be altered. In some cases PDFs can be locked so that no changes are possible. Also we can not imposition a locked or password-protected PDFs.


Not all PDFs are created the same. The PDF files that we create here at MPC have very specific parameters for our needs. Considerations for color space (Spot Color, CMYK or Grayscale), bleeds, folding, trapping (color fitting), size, and having the fonts properly embedded are very important. You must proof your PDF, not your native file. If the PDF does not conform to any one of these parameters, MPC may not be able to correct them and the process will be slowed or stopped.

The PDF must have the following features in order to be PRINT-READY:

1. Size: The document’s size must be correct.
2. Bleeds: Must be at least 1/8 of an inch.
3. Folds: Must be considered in design.
4. Color Space: Must be correct: CMYK, Grayscale or spots colors. No RGB.
5. Fonts: All fonts must be embedded.
6. Images: Need to have the correct print resolution (300 dpi at the size to be printed).
7. Books: Need to be paginated in their natural order.
8. No Security or Passwords.
9. Proofread your PDF: The PDF must be proofread and looked over before sending.

If you follow these guidelines you can reap the benefits of a digital workflow, faster turnaround and the highest quality printing. Once again you are part of the production process and the trick is getting all the elements of your job from your computer to our computers. It’s that simple!