PDF HandShake G8 User manual (Version 6.0.0)  

15 Create PDF files using Acrobat Distiller

PDF HandShake offers the opportunity of using PDF as an exchange format in the printing business. The results on the output side, however, depend on the quality on the input side. So for PDF generation you should follow the instructions given below or communicate the instructions to every customer who submits PDF files to you. We recommend to use Acrobat Distiller for PDF generation, and to consult the Acrobat online help.

In the following, we briefly discuss the Distiller job options that might be relevant for the PDF HandShake workflows.


Please note that some of the Distiller settings described below are best suited for printing only – they may be disadvantageous for other purposes such as web production or re-editing of files using Adobe Acrobat.


Start Acrobat Distiller, open Settings > Edit Adobe PDF Settings... and select the General tab to open the dialog shown in Fig. 15.1.

File Options

Compatibility should be set to Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3) in order to provide a high grade of compatibility with different Acrobat versions. For “Create PDF” printer queues with the PDF Transparency option enabled, compatibility should be set to Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or higher.

Default Page Size

The default document page size can be arbitrarily specified in this section.


In the Units pop-up menu select Centimeters or Inches.

Setting up <code>General</code> settings

Fig. 15.1: Setting up General settings


Then select the Images tab as shown in Fig. 15.2.

Color Images

Sampling should be switched off in the pop-up menu, and Compression should be ZIP. Even though PDF HandShake is able to uncompress every kind of PDF file, any type of JPEG, JPEG 2000 or Automatic compression may entail data loss and thus reduce quality on the output side.

Grayscale Images

Here, the same settings as described in Color Images above should be applied.

Monochrome Images

If you intend to decrease the file size for monochrome bitmap images switch Sampling off and select CCIT Group 4 or Run Length from the corresponding pop-up menu.


Switch to the Fonts tab to specify the fonts you want to include in your PDF file. Fig. 15.3 shows the settings that are best suited for printing.

Embed All Fonts guarantees that all fonts used in the original document will be contained in the resulting PDF file. This is especially important if you plan to use the PDF file with PDF HandShake on a different system later. Note that the Distiller software can only embed fonts that are either embedded in the PostScript file or available in one of your system’s font locations. TrueType fonts will only be embedded if they are already included in the PostScript file.

If you are fairly sure that the fonts you used for document creation are available on the system that will be used for production, you may uncheck Embed All Fonts.

Setting up <code>Images</code> settings

Fig. 15.2: Setting up Images settings

Setting up <code>Fonts</code> settings

Fig. 15.3: Setting up Fonts settings

The Subset Embedded Fonts When Percent Of Characters Used Is Less Than option should be used, and set to 100%, to make sure that the fonts embedded in the PDF file are really used for printing.

When printing with the Acrobat plug-in or “pdfprint”, all fonts that are embedded in a PDF file will be sent to the printer. However, depending on the printer’s default settings, a font from the document might be rejected in case the printer already has a font of the same name. Problems can arise if the font in the PDF file, e.g. Chicago, is not identical to the printer’s Chicago font.

If you use Subset Embedded Fonts When Percent Of Characters Used Is Less Than and set it to the highest value – 100% – you can make sure that every embedded font in the document will be assigned a new and unique font name (e.g. “CMFONL+Chicago” for a Chicago subset font) that does not coincide with the standard font names on a printer.


If you work with Subset Embedded Fonts When Percent Of Characters Used Is Less Than and set it to a rather high value you should keep in mind that the Adobe Acrobat cannot re-edit text – in a PDF file – that uses subset fonts.

The Color tab can be used to apply color settings. We recommend to use the settings shown in Fig. 15.4.


Choose Leave Color Unchanged from the pop-up menu, as shown in the example, unless you intend to edit the colors in the PDF document.

The profiles pop-up menus for Gray, RGB and CMYK remain grayed out as long as you maintain Leave Color Unchanged.

Preserve Under Color Removal and Preserve Halftone Information can be checked if required. If your PostScript file contains e.g. halftone information you want to use for later printing, check Preserve Halftone Information. The “pdfprint” program and the Acrobat plug-in both have an option that allows to use for printing the halftone information that is included in the PDF file.


Switch to the Advanced tab as shown in Fig. 15.5.

Setting up <code>Color</code> settings

Fig. 15.4: Setting up Color settings

Setting up <code>Advanced</code> settings

Fig. 15.5: Setting up Advanced settings

Preserve OPI Comments is only relevant if you are using ImageServer. Both choices are possible: If you are fairly sure that your input document is complete, meaning that all required fonts and high-resolution images are embedded, you should uncheck the option. In that case OPI comments are no longer relevant. If you check Preserve OPI Comments this would mean that OPI comments that are already included in your EPSF or PostScript file will be included in the PDF file as well; and they will be resolved by the OPI server later. For example, if the PDF document contains a TIFF layout file and a reference to the high-resolution original, the OPI server will be able to perform image replacement according to the reference in the PDF file. Problems can arise if you send PDF files with OPI comments to another company and do not also send the high-resolution images. In that case, the OPI comments cannot be resolved and the PDF files cannot be printed correctly.


Creating PDF files from separated PostScript files using Acrobat Distiller works just as well as with composite files.


Finally, switch to the Standards tab as shown in Fig. 15.6.

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has issued several PDF/X standards by now. Each PDF/X standard describes a specific subset of an Adobe PDF standard version. The goal of all PDF/X standards is to achieve high interoperability and reproducibility without appearance variations. Unrestricted PDF documents are known for color, font, and trapping problems, which PDF/X eliminates.

PDF/X, a subset of the PDF specification created by Adobe, eliminates many of the color, font, and trapping variables that lead to printing problems.

There are two commonly used versions of PDF/X, both approved ISO standards:


PDF/X-1a is a specification for the blind exchange of PDF files which contain CMYK and spot color information.


The second, PDF/X-3 is very similar to PDF/ X-1a, except it allows using device independent color (Lab, color profiles and calibrated color spaces).

Setting up <code>Standards</code> settings

Fig. 15.6: Setting up Standards settings

Standard Reporting and Compliance defines the PDF/X specification used, what Distiller is to do when it finds files that are not compliant, etc.

The Compliance Standard pop-up menu is used to specify which version of PDF/X is desired. PDF/X-1a is used for device CMYK and spot color workflows; PDF/X-3 is used for color managed workflows.

When not compliant – Distiller can either fail a non-compliant job or it can continue to create a PDF file that is as close to PDF/X compliance as possible. Using Continue is not recommended, because it does not create PDF/X compliant files.

If neither TrimBox nor ArtBox are Specified – The specification of at least one of these boxes is a requirement of PDF/X (even if the offset values are set to zero.) It is always best to check with the printer to get this setting correct, otherwise, leave the offset values set to zero. This will cause the trim box to be set to the page size.

If BleedBox is not Specified – The Bleed Box specification is another requirement of PDF/X. If it is not specified or Distiller cannot detect the bleed box from the incoming file (Distiller contains smarts to detect this information, even if the user does not specify it), you can set the bleed box value in relation to the trim box value. Because the size of the bleed box is always greater than the size of the trim box, the offset indicated here is the distance outside the trim box.

Default values if not specified in the document – The document output intent is specified in this document. This describes the intended output condition for the file. The PDF/X specification allows you to identify these output conditions in two ways. You can choose either an ICC profile that describes the device or condition for which the file is prepared or a characterized printing condition can be used. Distiller has a preference for specifying an ICC profile. Based on the profile chosen, Distiller will select the proper characterized printing condition for you.

If you do specify a characterized printing condition, it must be registered in order for it to comply with the PDF/X standard.

In addition, the Trapped parameter is specified in this section. This parameter is meant to indicate whether or not the file contains trapping information. In almost all cases, the value of this flag will be Insert False. Unless you are manually trapping a file, using a trapping plug-in or do not want the file to be trapped, leave this as Insert False.

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HELIOS Manuals September 10, 2020