You should never create aPDF via print.
What I would do in your case, I would check the placed file with a profile in Acorbat Pro: Fonts complete, against different print standards, completeness.
Where does the file come from? From which application and how was it created?
Thanks for the quick response! Yes, I only tried printing to PDF because export was failing.
I am not sure I understand the "check the placed file with a profile in Acrobat Pro" part.
The file comes from ArcGIS, which yes, is terribly buggy and produces errors all the time. I exported a 36" x 30" map to PDF, with 400dpi (too high?), and vectorized (because the quality is better than raster). I placed this PDF in Indesign as my poster background. the poster has several rectangles with transparency and text within, as well as a few small PDF maps.
Please let me know if I should provide any other information.
A file which is to be print properly, even when placed into InDesign, has several requirements. If these requirements fail, the output will become a mess or will fail at all. In Acrobat Pro are several tools to proof PDF files and some but not all problems can be repaired.
I Acrobat Pro in the Tools Panel > Print Production you have several tools to check PDFs. The command Preflight helps to identify errors in the PDF. Of course you will need some know how to handle it, but this knowledge is important to create printable PDFs anyway. You can check your PDF against common problems, depending on the result you can take action to get a new (better) PDF, which would be the best solution or to repair this PDF.
I don't know the program you used to create the PDF.
Is the content vector, than resolution doesn't matter.
Is the content a raster image the need resolution (it is measured in PPI, not in DPI!) depends on the content. Normally 300ppi effective resolution is good for images, but text will look blurry, so it would be important to have text alive in the PDF.
But text alive causes often problems, if the used font is not embedded. The reasons can be caused by the program or by the font itself.
Also vectors without a defined width (hairlines) can cause problems.
Did you reboot and try it fresh with no other programs running?
Yes, I tried updaing EVERYTHING on my computer, rebooting, and only having indesign running. Also, I just printed the poster straight from indesign tiled across pages, and everything printed put the placed PDFs.
Great, I will try playing around with the PDF settings and look for errors. Would there be less room for error if I exported mymap from ArcGIS as a jpeg or tiff, and then placed in indesign?
PDF is a container file type, that means it can contain vectors, images and type. It allows to create great and high quality output with the proper means, as text can still be text and need not to be rasterized. JPG and TIFF are image file types with only one form of content, which will cause rasterized text and a single color model. But if the output of an application causes a lot of errors in a PDF than a JPG or TIFF (both I would avoid if possible) could help to avoid a print stop.
Yes, if you try to jpg rasterize it, it should RIP with little or no complaint. That is a good idea to try as a strategy. If it works, your suspicion of a wonky vector file might be right.
I may be wrong and I know very little about the subject, but is this a Geospatial PDF?
Does it have an attachment; an XML data file that is used internally by the PDF?
I tried several methods of Optimizing a PDF for the USGS that was 22.75x29 inches.
Not much luck. But I tried exporting as a TIF at 300 ppi.The resultant TIF looked OK, but you should inspect it to be sure elements aren't missing.
When I tried at 1200 ppi it threw up an error message.
Since this is only being used as a background.maybe 300 ppi would be enough.
Normally I would never recommend rasterizing a PDF, but this seems like an exception.