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Chapter THREE. Creating PDF Files Outsid... > TIP 30: Creating Custom Conversion S...

TIP 30: Creating Custom Conversion Settings in Distiller

You can create custom conversion settings for your own work, start from scratch, or modify one of the default options. Many variations on the defaults are available. You can create new job options through the PDFMaker and Distiller dialogs. This tip shows the process using Distiller:

In Distiller, choose one of the default settings to serve as the basis for your custom settings. You can start from scratch, but modifying the option closest to what you need is a much simpler approach. The example in this tip uses the High Quality default setting as the basis for custom settings.

Working the Default Settings

The setting you select from the Default Settings heads the left column of the Custom Settings dialog. If you want to create custom settings using a different default option, don't close the Adobe PDF Settings dialog; instead, click the Show All Settings check box at the lower left of the dialog to display the list of Default Settings; double-click another default settings option to reveal the set of headings. Click the Show All Settings check box again to deselect it, and only the active default setting and its headings remain in the column.

Choose Settings > Edit Adobe PDF Settings.

The High Quality Print-Adobe PDF Settings dialog opens (Figure 30a). The dialog has a list of headings in the left column; click a heading to display the settings in the right pane of the dialog. If you select either the General heading or the default setting's heading (High Quality in the figure), the same General options display in the dialog.

Figure 30a. Modify conversion options for any default group of settings or create your own.

On the General tab, you may want to modify these settings:

  • Compatibility— The default is Acrobat 5.0 (PDF 1.4). Depending on your users, you can choose an option as far back as Acrobat 3. Older versions of the program have fewer options for settings such as security, font embedding, and color management. For example, Acrobat 7's security settings aren't functional in Acrobat 4.

    Don't Use Page Ranges

    The General tab includes an option for selecting a specific range of pages. Don't enable this option unless you are sure the custom settings are for onetime use. If you specify a range of pages when you create the job options and then reuse the settings another time, you convert only those pages specified on the General tab. This can lead to time-consuming troubleshooting when you use your custom settings and can't figure out where your pages have gone!

  • Object Level Compression— Choose from Off or Tags options. Compression of objects combines small objects into compressible content. Off leaves the document's structure as is; the Tags Only option compresses structural information in the PDF document. If you compress tag information, your document's features such as bookmarks are viewable only in Acrobat 6 and 7; leaving the option set to Off allows structure and tagging information to be usable in Acrobat 5 as well.

  • Resolution— You can set this option to emulate the resolution of a printer for PostScript files. A higher resolution usually produces higher quality but larger files. Resolution determines the number of steps in a gradient or blend. The gradient at the left of Figure 30b is the same as that on the right; the only difference is resolution.

    Figure 30b. Resolution determines the number of steps in a gradient or blend.

  • Embed thumbnails— Thumbnail previews are used for navigation. Prior to Acrobat 5, you had to specify thumbnail generation rather than having them generated dynamically. Unless you are planning to use the output with older versions of Acrobat and Acrobat Reader, don't enable this option; it adds to the file size unnecessarily.

On the Images tab (Figure 30c), you may need to adjust and test setting changes several times for converting files with complex images. Consider these options:

Figure 30c. Modify and test changes made to the Images tab settings.

Naming Job Options Files

You may create a number of custom .joboptions files over time. To keep track of their use or purpose, name them according to client name, project name, or anything else that is meaningful. For example, highquality(1).joboptions doesn't mean as much as northern_foods.joboptions.

  • Downsample— You can combine pixels in a sample area to make a larger pixel. Pixels in images with a resolution above a specified amount are combined to reduce the resolution. Depending on what your users are required to do with your file, you may want to increase or decrease the downsampling level. For images such as maps (where the user zooms in to a high magnification), a high resolution is much more legible.

  • Compression/Image Quality— Select options depending on the file's color, grayscale, and monochromatic images. You can use different compression settings depending on the type of image.

  • Smooth jagged edges in monochrome images by turning on antialiasing.


    Click the When embedding fails pull-down arrow and choose a policy from the list; as with the policy options for images, you can save time processing files if you specify how to handle embedding errors.

  • Click the Policy button to open a dialog used to specify how to process images when they are below the resolution you define. You can specify whether to ignore, warn, or cancel a job based on resolution of color, grayscale, and monochrome images. Setting policies can save you processing and reprocessing time in the event the images in a file don't use the correct resolutions.

On the Fonts tab (Figure 30d), specify whether you want to embed fonts or subset embedded fonts when the percent of characters used falls below a value you enter. If you are using unusual fonts, or your layout is highly dependent on the fonts, be sure to embed them. Choose the Subset option when you want to embed a portion of a font's characters. Don't use a low value if you expect to change any characters in the page.

Figure 30d. Maintain the look of your document using font embedding.

On the Color tab (Figure 30e), choose settings that correspond with files used in your source applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. The options available depend on the color settings you choose. If you are sending files to a press, you often get settings from the printer.

Figure 30e. Choose from a wide range of color settings.

Sharing Job Options Files

You can share settings with others. Email the .joboptions file as you would any other type of file. Your recipients add the file to the storage folder. The next time they access the custom settings dialog from a PDFMaker, Acrobat, or Distiller, the shared settings are ready to use.

Unless you are familiar with Document Structuring Conventions and the like, you won't have to change many options on the Advanced tab (Figure 30f). The settings on this tab describe how the conversion from PostScript to PDF is performed. Let's look at two default options:

Figure 30f. Most settings on the Advanced tab work fine using the default options.

Faster Conversions

If you are building files for online use, make sure RGB (not CMYK) is selected. RGB is the native color space for monitors and doesn't require any conversion, making viewing faster.

  • The Convert gradients to smooth shades option converts gradients from a range of programs, including FreeHand, QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, and Microsoft PowerPoint. This option produces a smaller PDF file size, and often results in improved output.

  • The other option of note, Save original JPEG images in PDF if possible, processes JPEG images (which are compressed) without compressing them again, resulting in faster file processing.

If you are constructing settings that comply with standards, you can choose options on the Standards tab that check document contents against standards before creating the PDF document (Figure 30g). The options displayed on the tab vary according to the standard you select from the Compliance Standard pull-down menu.

Figure 30g. When you need to process a PDF according to standards, choose and configure the options on the Standards tab.

Choose Save As to open the Save Adobe PFD Settings As dialog. Name the file and click Save (Figure 30h). The custom conversion settings file is saved with the extension .joboptions.

Figure 30h. Save your custom settings as a named .joboptions file for reuse.



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