In this article, you will find SiteFlow's recommended best practices for creating PDF files. We strongly recommend the use of PDF/X4 compliant files for best results. Our recommendations also include embedding all fonts, allowing transparency, including PDF Boxes, and Defining glyphs and special characters.


PDF/X4 Compliance

Create your PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Pro or Callas pdfToolbox Desktop to carry out preflight checks on your file before sending it.  We recommend creating a PDF/X4 document. Well-formatted PDFs are more likely to be managed properly by the presses/printers; we have a specific prepress process in SiteFlow that helps us catch PDF errors. PDF/X4 compliant documents ensure minimum rendering issues at any PSP.  The following image shows ‘No Problems Found’ when analyzing a PDF file for preflight.

Why PDF/X4

We use Mako Global Graphics rendering engine, same as HP Presses DFE rip engine. Mako will recommend PDF/X4 for best compatibility although other standards may be ingested as well.


PDF Creation Recommendations in SiteFlow

When checking for issues in the preflight process many issues may arise. To minimize such issues and ensure the best rendering of your PDF document at any PSP, view the following recommendations:

Embed All Fonts

We also recommend embedding all fonts into the PDF file. If you use fonts that are not embedded, a fixup is required. The following image shows unembedded fonts during the preflight check process.

Important Note: HP Site Flow renders fonts on a Linux Operating System which does not have the standard Windows fonts pre-installed by default. Ensure that all standard Windows fonts are embedded. You can refer to the following article to find a list of all available Windows 10 fonts: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/typography/fonts/windows_10_font_list  

Transparency Allowed

PDF/X-4 compliant files now allow the use of transparency, layers (optional content, often used for multi-language jobs or other types of versioning), or color-managed color spaces. 

Include PDF Boxes

PDF/X-4 compliant files need to include the MediaBox and a TrimBox, or an ArtBox, but not ArtBox and TrimBox at the same time. The ArtBox or TrimBox cannot be larger than the BleedBox. If a CropBox is present, the ArtBox,  TrimBox, and BleedBox need to extend beyond its boundaries.

The PDF Page Boxes including CropBox (MediaBox), ArtBox, TrimBox, and BleedBox are not created by default in non-graphic applications, such as  Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Publisher, which create PDF’s programmatically.  We recommend using graphic applications, such as Adobe Illustrator, to create a PDF and thus have the PDF Page Boxes created by default.  The following image shows the actual dimensions of each box in millimeters (mm) in Acrobat Pro preflight summary. 


Define Glyphs and Special Characters

We strongly recommend that you define your glyphs or special characters in your PDF file. Special fixups can be created for glyphs.

Even though all your fonts are embedded in your PDF file, some font issues might appear. This is due to the fact that your glyphs might not be defined. For example, the special boxes/marks shown in the below screenshot appear because the embedded font does not contain these characters or glyphs.  The correct fonts that include the needed special characters or glyphs must be selected and included in your PDF file. You can run a separate check to know if there are any undefined glyphs. 

More on Fixups and Preflight

Preflight profiles are an effective way for standardizing PDF checks and validations and even applying some fixups. You may want to check how to Create & Manage Preflight Profiles in SiteFlow to learn more about how SiteFlow manages preflight profiles.

Besides, Acrobat Pro or Callas pdfToolbox Desktop are industry-standard tools to manage PDFs. In case of further details on how to apply the above-mentioned process, you can check their online documentation.

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