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Recommended InDesign settings for exporting to PDF for digital printing?

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  • Recommended InDesign settings for exporting to PDF for digital printing?

    This question is regarding printing to digital presses. Are there recommended InDesign settings that should be used for exporting to PDF? My designs are fairly simple except for black text printed using very small font sizes. So my goal is always for super sharp text, against the white background and also against the one image which is printed as a halftone. The text content runs through the image. I'm probably not as concerned about color as many folks are.

  • #2
    Originally posted by CliffSpielman View Post
    ...So my goal is always for super sharp text, against the white background and also against the one image which is printed as a halftone...
    The sharpness of the text depends from the possible and used printer resolution: Printing with only 600 dpi will look a little bit, but remarkable more "bold" than a print with 1200dpi if the text is converted to paths. So it is better to export the text as editable Text that hinting can work (via font including how it should happens automatically with any export-setting if the user does not set an extra command text to paths anywhere...). Of course a 1200 dpi resolution print should deliver a little bit more "sharpness" than an 300 oder 600 dpi print too ;-)

    I would expect that most of the digital printing machines are expecting files made originally for offset-printing, so that the tone value increase about 16% in the midtones in an offset print should look very similary to a digital version of a print. But in doubt, you should ask your printer about that stuff and which increase/profile is more suitable for halftones.

    Ulrich

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    • #3
      PDF/X-4:2008. Judging by your other thread, you're considering non-APPE RIPs. I'd advise against that, but some of the problems you'll face with old Postscript RIPs might be overcome by using PDF/X-1a:2001.

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      • #4
        On behalf of Adobe Systems Incorporated…

        We most strongly recommend using the PDF/X-4 PDF export settings for either InDesign or Illustrator. All direct PDF RIPs from the last 8 to 10 years using the Adobe PDF Print Engine technology or even the Global Graphics Harlequin technology should be able to properly handle such files. Keep live transparency. Don't convert colors during PDF export. The quality willgenerally be much better if you don't flatten transparency and convert colors as part of export!!! Choose an CMYK output condition that is appropriate for your digital press (although most digital printers and their RIPs provide settings to emulate almost any common CMYK printing condition). Even the default image downsampling resolution is generally perfectly fine for digital printing which seldom exceeds 1200dpi.

        Even if you are ultimately printing to a PostScript printer, export with the PDF/X-4 settings and then print via Acrobat or even Adobe Reader. Quality will be excellent.

        - Dov

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        • #5
          I don't mean to hijack this thread, but we've been using "None" Standard and Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) Compatibility for all exporting from InDesign. We generally never have any issues, but am open to switching to PDF/X-4:2010, possibly upon delivery of our new press. What sort of differences might I see if I switch?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PricelineNegotiator View Post
            I don't mean to hijack this thread, but we've been using "None" Standard and Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) Compatibility for all exporting from InDesign. We generally never have any issues, but am open to switching to PDF/X-4:2010, possibly upon delivery of our new press. What sort of differences might I see if I switch?
            First of all, smaller file sizes. PDF 1.4 doesn't have compressed object streams for text and vector.

            PDF/X-4 has rules with regards to font embedding that yield higher reliability in terms of rendering under more conditions and of course, it enforces embedding of ICC color profiles (for RGB and for CMYK that doesn't match the document's default CMYK color space). The document's default CMYK color space's ICC profile is embedded in a PDF/X-4 file as the Output Intent profile to assist the RIP (and even Acrobat) in properly rendering the PDF file. In general, it is the basis of much more reliable / predictable rendering both on screen and for print. Don't leave InDesign without it!

            - Dov

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dov Isaacs View Post

              First of all, smaller file sizes. PDF 1.4 doesn't have compressed object streams for text and vector.

              PDF/X-4 has rules with regards to font embedding that yield higher reliability in terms of rendering under more conditions and of course, it enforces embedding of ICC color profiles (for RGB and for CMYK that doesn't match the document's default CMYK color space). The document's default CMYK color space's ICC profile is embedded in a PDF/X-4 file as the Output Intent profile to assist the RIP (and even Acrobat) in properly rendering the PDF file. In general, it is the basis of much more reliable / predictable rendering both on screen and for print. Don't leave InDesign without it!

              - Dov
              Thank you for your informative response. I'll do some testing with this over the next few weeks and again when we take delivery of our new press.

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              • #8
                There's a lot to chew on in these responses. But one take away is a reminder to ask the print shop what preset and settings they recommend. I just find that a lot of the small shops out here don't necessarily know the answers to these questions. (Yet another reason why I will likely get my own press soon - I would drive people crazy by asking to try to dozens or hundreds of possible setting combinations to get the best results for my printed content)

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                • #9
                  Cliff, If you get a RIP with APPE included, PDF/X-4 is the way to go. This will ensure the most secure way to reproduce the content what the client have seen in his/her Acrobat. The only thing you should get very seriously is to click the checkbox "use embedded profiles" at the color options.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CliffSpielman View Post
                    … I just find that a lot of the small shops out here don't necessarily know the answers to these questions. (Yet another reason why I will likely get my own press soon - I would drive people crazy by asking to try to dozens or hundreds of possible setting combinations to get the best results for my printed content)
                    This is exactly why many such “small shops” are going out of business. You can't simply make a single investment in equipment, software, and training (many skip the training) and expect to run a successful business for the indefinite future without additional investments and updated training. Print is certainly not dead, but has been changing dramatically over the years in terms of what is printed and how it is printed. Workflows that were adequate in 1999 were totally obsolete by 2010. And those who don't keep up will indeed fail. (And that's not too different from any other modern business!)

                    - Dov

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