Re:Distiller Settings...

Subject: Re:Distiller Settings...
From: Charles E Vermette <cvermette -at- juno -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 11:10:26 -0400

Ellen asks:

<<<What are the correct Acrobat distiller settings for print
documentation? For documents viewed online? I have some conflicting
answers to these questions...>>>

Ellen, here's how I handle them, for better or worse. This is based on:
a.) inductive experience (i.e., fumbling in the dark until I got what I
b.) a recent contract (ended last week) where I had to reposition PDFs
for various uses, and :
c.) eight years in commercial printing (admittedly, before the digital
revolution really took hold. Still, my comments on working with you print
house are as valid today as ever.)

I hope those with more experience correct anything they disagree with
(list member asks to be corrected - film at 11:D) If you have graphics
issues with PDFs, I recommend Sean Brierly's articles on image formats (I
had a link to it, but it appears to be invalid. Check with Sean for the

Sidebar: If Sean disagrees with any of the following, do what he

Here are the questions to ask:

* Are you:

a) sending this document to a print house, or:
b) just running the job off your printer

If a):

* ask your printer what they need. If possible, send the source files and
let *them* create the PDF. (or more likely, they'll send *you* a printer
driver and ask for a postscript file. Either way, this is the best track
for both of you.

There is the one thing I can say authoritatively on this - ALWAYS ASK
OPTIMUM - and do it AT THE START of your project. You will pay in time
and $$$ if you don't.

If b)

* Create a PDF using the "Screen Optimized" setting. Then print to your

If it looks good: you're done. You've created the smallest doc possible,
and it suites your purposes (you can also skip the rest of this post.)

* On my last contract (ended five days ago,) the Screen Optimized setting
worked fine for the print doc, the docs for customer downloads, and the
merged PDF used as the online help.

If the screen optimized PDF doesn't print well, re-distill using the
"Print Optimized" setting. The file will be larger, but should print

The only time you use the third setting ("Press Optimized") is for jobs
to be sent to commercial printers. This creates HUGE file sizes, and is
ONLY for this purpose.

Case in point: a TW once came to me and asked what they could do to
reduce the size of their PDFs- which were at 20MB and counting. They were
distilled at Press Optimized. When distilled at Screen Optimized, they
went to a fraction of that size (somewhere between 1 and 3 MB. I remember
this because the docs were specifically for customer download!!!)

Lastly, *always use the Acrobat Distiller print driver* unless:

a) you are working with a print house, and:
b) the print house instructs you otherwise.

Also, if the print house wants you to use a specific driver, *they*
should provide it, as well as instructions for setup and the deliverable
they need. If they can't/won't do that, get another printer. The
competition is intense in printing, and there's no reason to tolerate a
printer that won't work with you.


Charles E. Vermette
85 Washington Park Drive, Norwell MA 02061
e-mail: cvermette -at- juno -dot- com

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