PDfs are used regularly to deliver print-ready documents, graphics and logos to printers.

Although the file format is reliable, PDF files can still be problematic due to the common habit of designers making proofs from their layout on screen instead of printing a sample or properly preparing the file for print. And there lies the rub.

Here are some of the most common PDF mistakes and errors to watch for when preparing files for print and how to troubleshoot them.

  1. PDF dimensions are incorrect

    Check to be certain the PDF size matches the requirements of the requested work.

  2. Missing bleed

    Instead of color saturating to the edge of the page, a thin white line may appear instead. Be sure to set up crop marks and bleed when preparing to send out.

  3. Color problems

    Check your work to ensure you have either CMYK or RGB in place, dependent upon the file, before sending. Another issue with color is the reproduction of the color not printing as desired. Check out our blog on this topic here.

  4. Low image resolution

    When image resolution is too low images become pixelated and straight lines can appear crooked. Sometimes this issue doesn’t become clear until the project is at the printer. Either use a higher resolution version of the image to solve this, or replace the image entirely.

  5. Missing fonts

    Have you checked to make sure your fonts are embedded? It can be very frustrating for an agency or printer to have to hunt down missing fonts. This can lead to the entire job being printed incorrectly.

  6. Overprint issues

    Overprint is when one colored object overlaps another, and is typically only used for special effects within a design. Problems with overprint can cause page elements to disappear or change color. Small text can become difficult or impossible to read. The best way to ensure your overprint areas are print ready, open each element in Acrobat, go to Tools – Print Production – Output Preview. In Output Preview, check the Simulate Overprint check box which will simulate overprint issues on-screen.

  7. High ink coverage

    High ink coverage can cause issues on the press because the ink can’t properly dry. This can lead to set-off, where the still wet ink rubs off on whatever is stacked on top of it. Excess ink can also lead to muddy browns in neutral areas. Check with the printer to see what color profile you should be using to avoid this issue. You can also search online for the type of paper you’re printing on to see what is recommended.

  8. Flattening problems

    Flattening can cause thin white lines to appear. It can cause shifts in color or make text appear fat. Flattening can also cause white rectangles to appear in graphic elements such as artwork or images. Check out Adobe’s tips on correcting flattening issues here.

Correcting PDF issues

Many of the issues noted can be fixed with Adobe Acrobat Professional or a simple Google search if all else fails, but one possible source of the problem could be that the PDF file is corrupt due to email ISP handling, a corrupted disk sector or bad memory.  Try recreating the PDF from the original source and see if the problem remains.

Still need help? Contact the pros at Kingston Printing today.