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Chapter 4. Creating PDFs > Changing Job Options

Changing Job Options

Acrobat Distiller offers many more preference options than the tiny Preferences dialog box lets on. But instead of being labeled “preferences,” these options are called job options. These options affect the way each Distiller file is processed.

To change Distiller job options:

Choose Job Options from the Settings menu (Ctrl+J/Command-J) (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12. Choose Job Options from the Settings menu.

The Job Options dialog box appears (Figure 4.13), offering general and advanced preferences, as well as options for changing compression, fonts, and color.

Figure 4.13. The General tab of the Job Options dialog box offers options for page size, resolution, and binding, among others.

Select the category of job options you want to change by clicking the appropriate tab.

When you're done, click OK to accept your changes.

Click the Save As button to save a custom configuration file for later use.

The file will show up in the Job Options pop-up menu in the main Distiller window.

General Job Options

The General options establish structural features of the distilled PDF and define how the file relates to the outside world in terms of compatibility and Web display.

  • Compatibility can be changed to allow users of Acrobat 3.0 or 4.0 to open and modify PDF files. But because Acrobat 5.0 Reader is free and Acrobat 5.0 file sizes are slightly smaller (and because Reader doesn't let you alter the files), choosing Acrobat 5.0 compatibility usually is a better idea.

  • Optimize for Fast Web View allows the program to create smaller documents that download faster for viewing on the Web; it also restructures the data so that individual pages can be downloaded one at a time.

  • Embed Thumbnails provides thumbnail previews of each page in the PDF document. Even if you turn off Embed Thumbnails, Acrobat adds thumbnails to a PDF automatically when you open the Thumbnail palette, thereby increasing the file size.

  • Auto-Rotate Pages: Collectively By File or Individually rotates PDF pages automatically based on the orientation of the text.

  • Distill Pages enables you to distill all or a select range of PDF pages.

  • Binding determines how pages are displayed in continuous-facing mode. You can choose binding on the left or right side.

  • Resolution is used to emulate a printer at a specific resolution. Leave this option at the Default setting unless you're sure what you'll be printing to. The available range is 72 to 4000 dpi.

  • Default Page Size lets you determine the page dimensions of the distilled file. You can enter a value in Points, Picas, Inches, or Centimeters. The maximum size is 200 by 200 inches. Distiller uses this value only if the PostScript file does not have a specific built-in paper size.


  • Choose an output resolution according to the resolution of the final output device for your document. If you're sending files to a print house rather than to your own printer, you probably need to set a high resolution. For a basic inkjet or small laser printer, the resolution is usually set to 300 dpi. For publishing-grade output, the resolution can range from 600 to 2400 dpi.

Compression Job Options

The Compression tab has three main option sections: Color Images, Grayscale Images, and Monochrome Images (Figure 4.14). The various options control how different image types are processed so that they take up less space in the final PDF. Many of these options are too advanced for the scope of this book; check with your tech support or prepress person before changing the default settings.

Figure 4.14. Choose a method of compression and how to downsample files in the Compression tab of the Job Options dialog box.

Reducing the size of images within the file involves two techniques: resampling and compression.

  • Resampling means changing the pixel dimensions of an image. Acrobat allows only downsampling, or reducing the number of pixels in a document. (You can't resample up as you can in Photoshop, for example.) When pixels are removed, you have to do some kind of pixel interpolation to smooth the transitions between the remaining pixels. Acrobat gives you a choice of three types of interpolation:

    • Average Downsampling creates an average pixel color based on a sample selection and uses that average to replace the colors in the image.

    • Bicubic Downsampling uses a weighted average of the pixels in a sample area to derive the new color. This downsampling option produces the highest-quality result but takes longer to compute.

    • Subsampling chooses a central pixel from a selection and replaces the image colors with that pixel color.

  • Compression tells Distiller how to choose the format in which images will be compressed.

    • Automatic enables Acrobat to pick the optimal level of compression based on the images used and produces excellent results with most documents.

    • JPEG compression, which is useful for continuous-tone color and grayscale images, is lossy, meaning that images will lose some of their information and possibly suffer degradation.

    • ZIP compression is a lossless compression scheme (except under certain circumstances) and works best for images with large areas of flat color or simple black-and-white images.

    • CCITT Group 4, in the Monochrome Images section, is appropriate for pure black-and-white images, such as scanned clip art.

  • Anti-Alias to Gray smooths the edges of monochrome artwork. The pop-up menu lets you choose how many levels of gray are incorporated into the anti-aliasing. Setting too high a value may make small type turn blurry.

  • Compress Text and Line Art provides compression for black-and-white line art and text.


  • The Downsampling check boxes and Automatic Compression are selected by default. These options are good ones to use when you're fairly sure that a PDF document will be viewed only onscreen. Bicubic Downsampling is the default compression type for eBook and print jobs. Average Downsampling is the default for screen jobs.

Fonts Job Options

If a PDF is opened and read on a computer that doesn't have the fonts that were used in creating the original document, Acrobat has to substitute different fonts when displaying the PDF. These substitute fonts may match the metrics (width, height, and so on) of the original fonts, so text reflow will be minimal, but those fonts will change the overall appearance of your document.

To prevent this calamity, you can have Distiller embed the original document's fonts in the PDF file.

The Fonts tab of the Jobs Options dialog box (Figure 4.15) offers several options:

  • Embed All Fonts embeds fonts automatically, regardless of what's in the Always Embed list or the Never Embed list. The list of fonts available for embedding is also displayed in the Embedding area.

  • Subset Embedded Fonts When Percent of Characters Used Is Less Than examines each font used in a document. If fewer than 35 percent of the characters in a font are used, only those characters are embedded—not the entire font. This option can reduce the file size of PDF documents substantially. You can choose the percentage of characters by typing it in the text box.

  • When Embedding Fails offers three choices: Ignore, Warn and Continue, or Cancel Job.

Figure 4.15. The Fonts tab of the Job Options dialog box deals with embedding fonts in files.


  • The licensing terms for some fonts prevent them from being embedded in PDFs. A font protected in this way is marked by a padlock icon in front of its name in the Embedding list.

When to Embed Fonts

When you create a PDF document, you'll have the option of embedding fonts in it. You'll probably choose to embed fonts more than 90 percent of the time except when you're desperately trying to keep file size to a minimum.

You should always embed fonts when:

  • The document is being used for proofing (appearance, not text).

  • The document contains text, such as a logo, that must appear in a certain font.

  • The fonts are decorative or symbol-based.

  • The PDF document will be used as a substitute for the original document.

  • The document will be sent to a service bureau for final output.

Color Job Options

The options in the Color tab (Figure 4.16) are the default settings for onscreen display. If you plan to print a PDF document, choose either the Print or Press job option settings from the Job Options pop-up in the Distiller dialog box as your starting point; you can change them to match your output needs. Check with your prepress operator for information on specific settings.

Figure 4.16. The Color tab of the Job Options dialog box lets you choose a color space in which to work.

Note: Color management is a complex subject, and its many intricacies are beyond the scope of this book. See the Acrobat Help file for more information.

  • Settings File (Figure 4.17) lets you choose a specific way to distill the color in the PDF file. When you choose any of the settings (except None and Color Management Off), Acrobat automatically fills in the rest of the options appropriate to that specific setting.

    Figure 4.17. The Settings File menu offers various methods for distilling color images.

    When you choose the None settings file, Distiller uses information contained in the PostScript file to manage color. Then you can use the Color Management Policies options and Working Spaces options to determine how Distiller converts or tags unmanaged color spaces in the PostScript file.

  • Color Management Policies (Figure 4.18) settings change depending on which level of compatibility you've selected in the General tab. When you've chosen Acrobat 4.0 or 5.0, you can embed an ICC profile in the PDF, making the colors device-independent. When you've chosen Acrobat 3.0, you can't embed a profile, but Distiller converts device-dependent color spaces in the files to device-independent ones.

    Figure 4.18. The options in the Color Management Policies menu tell Distiller how to handle colors.

    If you choose any option besides Leave Color Unchanged, you'll need to select a Working Spaces option for each color space. The Working Spaces area lets you calibrate the three areas: Gray, RGB, and CMYK.

  • Intent gives you five options: Default, Perceptual, Saturation, Absolute Colorimetric, and Relative Colorimetric.

  • Preserve Overprint Settings lets you keep the original overprint settings in the files that are being converted.

  • Preserve Under Color Removal and Black Generation reduces the amount of color used to compensate for the black generation for newsprint-type jobs.

  • Transfer Functions retains the transfer functions for the dot gain that was originally created with the file being converted. The options are Remove, Preserve, and Apply.

  • Preserve Halftone Information retains any halftone data of the file that is being converted.

Advanced Job Options

The Advanced tab (Figure 4.19) contains several settings that are relevant primarily if you plan to print a PDF file at some point.

Figure 4.19. The Advanced tab of the Job Options dialog box offers options for files to be printed.

The settings shown in the figure are the best choices when PDF files are to be displayed only onscreen. Detailed coverage of these options is beyond the scope of this book.

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