Re: problems in PDF

Subject: Re: problems in PDF
From: "Richard G. Combs" <richard -dot- combs -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 12:31:37 -0600

Mary Reynolds wrote:

> I'm in a new job and inherited manuals that had screenshots in TIFF
> They look bad in the PDFs. I've had illustrators or inherited good
> in previous jobs.
> If you are producing manuals using FrameMaker 6.0 and delivering to
> customers via PDF (distilled to Acrobat 4.0), how do you make your
> look good online? All my graphics are screenshots. I'm capturing them with
> Alt + Print Screen and opening in Photoshop Elements. I always save the
> file and then save as JPEG, sized to fit a 5" wide anchored frame. I
> them by reference in Frame, which automatically sets the DPI. For most
> screenshots, the DPI setting is about 127.

A few suggestions:

-- Don't use JPEG for screen shots. It's appropriate for continuous-tone
images (photos), but not for images containing text, sharp borders, etc.
TIFF, BMP, and PNG are much better alternatives.

-- Don't resize prior to import (or after import by resizing the graphics
frame). This can lead to pixels being discarded or new ones created by
interpolation. Neither is good for your image quality.

-- Control the size by _scaling_: explicitly set the DPI when importing into
Frame. The dialog shows you the image size resulting from the standard DPI
options offered; do a little quick math to figure out what custom DPI
setting you need to get a size you can live with.

-- The print quality will be best if you use a DPI setting that divides
evenly into the printer DPI. For instance, to optimize for a 600 DPI
printer, import at 100, 120, 150, 200 -- one of these will probably work for

-- If you want a bunch of screenshots to be the same width, set them up so
that the window or region you're capturing is always the same size, and then
import them all at the same DPI. For instance, if you always capture windows
that are 1000 pixels wide (just under full screen width on a monitor set to
1024x768) and import them at 200 DPI, they'll all be 5 inches wide in the
doc. Alternatively, crop them to the pixel dimensions you want -- that's
_crop_, not _resize_.

-- For PDF quality, turn off downsampling (or use conservative thresholds)
and choose lossless compression (e.g., ZIP) in your job options.

-- Accept the fact that you can't read really small text, no matter how
sharp it is. If you do a full-screen capture on a 1280x1024 monitor and
import the image at 300 DPI (so it's about 4 inches wide), then 12-point
text will appear to be 4-point text. You don't have to be youth-challenged,
like me, to have difficulty reading it. :-}


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT voyanttechDOTcom
rgcombs AT freeDASHmarketDOTnet


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