4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 29, 2011 1:23 PM by Dov Isaacs

    PDF settings for unknown printing conditions

    martin-s Level 2

      I create material such as flyers, that are sent out to various recipients as PDF. They print these PDFs on whatever printer they have access to, mostly good quality office lasers, but also inkjets; none of these PDFs are headed for offset press.

       

      Now I want to ensure reasonably good colour fidelity under these uncertain conditions. I let ID output RGB composite in the sRGB colour space, the document is created in RGB, too. By using sRGB and leaving the CMYK conversion to the printer, I'm hoping to get the least surprises and testing in my office and with printers in the neighbourhood seems to confirm that.

       

      Does that sound like a good strategy?

        • 1. Re: PDF settings for unknown printing conditions
          Steve Werner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          I'd suggest using File > Export > PDF and choosing the High Quality Print PDF preset. It leaves images in their original color space. Desktop printers can usually handle both RGB and CMYK images and use their own conversion to the color space they need. This preset also doesn't flatten transparency which isn't usually a problem with desktop printers.

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          • 2. Re: PDF settings for unknown printing conditions
            Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

            Actually, forcing all content to sRGB on PDF export is an exceptionally bad idea. Our strongest recommendation at Adobe is to use the PDF/X-4 PDF export settings such that all content is appropriately color managed, RGB content isn't prematurely converted to CMYK, and transparency is maintained as “live.” When you print from Adobe Reader / Adobe Acrobat versions 9 or greater, output from these PDF/X-4 files will be optimal compared to the mess you would have from a file in which all objects are forced to sRGB.

             

            Converting all content to sRGB on PDF export kills the available gamut for RGB imagery that is natively Adobe RGB or any other wide gamut RGB space. It also leads to your black and gray text and vector objects being converted to an RGB gray (R=G=B) which often will print out as rich black, i.e., something other than CMYK=(0,0,0,k). Pure CMYK cyan, magenta, and yellow will print polluted. And you also find transparency flattening artifacts that occur due to use of an RGB transparency blending space.

             

            By the way, in terms of “desktop printers,” except for photo printers which often have a few extra colorants, all printers are basically CMYK. For PostScript printers, printing PDF files from Adobe Reader / Adobe Acrobat yields CMYK only to those printers when default settings are used; RGB, LAB, and spot color content is appropriately converted to the target CMYK color space using Adobe's ICC-based color managment with profiles found in the PDF file. For non-PostScript devices that have drivers that only understand RGB, content is converted to RGB by Reader/Acrobat likewise using the profiles provided.

             

            Bottom line is that you shouldn't prematurely convert any color spaces whether to RGB or CMYK!

             

                      - Dov

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            • 3. Re: PDF settings for unknown printing conditions
              martin-s Level 2

              Thanks Steve and Dov for your input – I will give the suggested methods a try with the next job.

               

              Dov, you say:

              When you print from Adobe Reader / Adobe Acrobat versions 9 or greater, output from these PDF/X-4 files will be optimal compared to the mess you would have from a file in which all objects are forced to sRGB.

               

              The problem is I have no control over what is used for printing at the recipients’ end. It could be a totally outdated version of Reader, Preview on the Mac or something else. So would the proposed method fail unless Reader 9 is used?

               

              That’s what got me thinking along the lines of sRGB in the first place. I’ve had some pretty inconsistent results with local print shops when sending PDFs containing images in a wide-gamut space, probably because their devices just assumed sRGB as is quite common.

               

              I’m not worried about the occasional clipping of a wide gamut image (these are very short-lived leaflets and similar). I simply want a file that prints trouble-free for the majority.

              • 4. Re: PDF settings for unknown printing conditions
                Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

                It won't fail, but might not be as good as with Acrobat/Reader 9 or 10. Still recommend PDF/X-4 for the most reliable, device-independent printing.

                 

                          - Dov

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