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Adobe PDF/X-1a:2001/2003/2008 and International Guidelines

Nov 19, 2012 10:36 AM

Tags: #illustrator #problem #pdf #compatability #cs6 #uk #pdf/x #pdf_standards #pdf/x-1a:2001 #international #canada #pdf/x-1a #iso_standards

Hi all,


First of all, forgive me for any incompetence - I'm extremely new to the world of graphic design and print compatibility.


System information:

64-bit Windows 7 running Adobe Illustrator CS6 version 16.1.1 (64-bit)


I am currently formatting our business cards in AI. They are being submitted to a print company in the UK. The print company has requested the PDFs to be in the format PDF/X-1a:2008 for the highest quality. However, I only have the option for PDF/X-1a:2001 or 2003. I have Googled this extensively and a hint came when Google said "Search only pages in the UK?"


This leads me to the following questions:

1. Does this 2008 standard exist, or did my contact at the company simply make a typing error? (It is my understanding that 2001 and 2003 are very similar standards, with the exception that 2003 is more broadly supported and overcomes compatibility issues)

2. Is this ISO standard only in the UK? Is it possible I can't find information on it because of my current country setting (Canada) and because I have a North American version of the Adobe Suite (if such a thing exists) that does not offer this standard?

3. If yes, is there any conversion software out there, or an add-on pack I can install, to ensure our PDFs are compliant?


Thank you in advance for all your help with this matter.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 19, 2012 10:57 AM   in reply to cixelfire

    They might have mixed up the numbers.


    PDF/X-1a 2001 is a format in which transparency will be flattened and everything will be converted into the chosen CMYK profile. So it will be safer to use than X-3. You have to ask for the color profile to use.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 20, 2012 2:33 PM   in reply to cixelfire

    There is NO SUCH THING as PDF/X-1a:2008.  The last version of PDF/X-1a was in 2003, however no one uses that - everyone uses the 2001 version.


    There is, however, a PDF/X-4 standard that is from 2008 - however it was replaced with a updated in 2010 and no one uses the 2008 version.


    So you really need to go back to the printer ask them what they really mean.

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