A comprehensive guide for anyone interested in PDF in print production
About this time last year, I received a copy of the first edition of The PDF Print Production Guide. It was a timely book, devoted to the processes and procedures of PDF creation for use in high-end printing. Having just received the second edition, now updated to include Acrobat 6 and OS X, a good book has gotten even better. As a production manager who is fully involved with PDF in both this magazine's print production and lately, in the procurement of good PDF (PDFX-1a) files from our advertising clients, a manual of this caliber is an invaluable tool.
Authors Joseph Marin and Julie Schaffer, who both work at the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), have laid out a well-organized and strategic book. The opening chapter on the basics of PDF gives a short overview of how the PDF (Portable Document File) format came to exist. From there, it digs right into all subjects PDF.
This book is designed for all levels of competency--from those who may just be beginning to explore the uses of PDF in production, to seasoned veterans. The book makes no assumptions of the reader's knowledge or comfort levels; and provides step-by-step instructions accompanied by relevant figures throughout. The level of detail and explanation in the "PDF Creation" chapter is extremely helpful in understanding all of the job-option settings. If even one of these settings is out of place in a production setting, the end result could be disastrous.
And while it's become standard practice to preflight native application files, the authors give compelling evidence for the need to preflight PDF files: "An overwhelming majority (88%) of the participants in GATF's PDF study stated that the biggest problem inherent in working with PDF files is that clients do not make them properly! Therefore, PDF files, too, must be checked to determine whether they are production-ready." How true! Marin and Schaffer explain how to diagnose problems using the built-in tools included in Acrobat. They also present some of the best third-party PDF preflighting and editing options in the chapter, "PDF Production Tools." These third-party software applications from Enfocus, Callas, Extensis, and Creo simplify the tasks of preflighting, trapping, and imposition.
Chapter 5 covers "Automating PDF," a standard that is used in some workflow processes. "Workflow automation is one of the key buzz phrases in the graphic-communications industry. We want to streamline our production workflow and make processes happen better, faster and with fewer headaches," write Marin and Schaffer. Covering how to create watched folders in Distiller to using products like Creo's Synapse Prepare, Adobe's PDF JobReady and Jaw's PDF Courier are adeptly addressed. Also included is using software to automate preflighting and editing, making this chapter a valuable tool in any production environment.
The "Reference" chapter provides a wealth of information. It has an excellent Q & A section, which has just about every frequently asked question about pdf. There is also a list of PDF resources, common file extensions, and a glossary.
PDF Print Production Guide, 2nd Edition, with additional coverage of Mac OS X and Acrobat 6, is a wonderful, comprehensive guide for anyone interested in PDF in print production.
The PDF Print Production Guide 2nd edition, by Joseph Marin and Julie Shaffer. Published by the GATFPress, 256 pages, spiral bound. Price: $45, from GATFPress (www.gain.net).
Patricia Houston manages the production of
The Big Picture and previously served as a digital technician at R.R. Donnelley, which produces the print edition of this publication.