Easily compare 2 InDesign documents for changes

InDesignHere's the problem: You have two InDesign documents of the same job which are filled with text - but you don't know which one to use. You could spend a lot of time reading page after page of text trying to determine which document is the one you want, but there's an easier way.

I picked-up this tip from Anne-Marie Concepción over at InDesign Magazine some time ago and it's fantastic for comparing two InDesign documents to find the differences. Obviously, this tip is most useful for documents containing a LOT of text. Read on to see how easy it is.

Optimize PDF files with better results

Most people who work with PDFs in Acrobat versions older than version 8 know you can quickly reduce the file size of a PDF by going to the File menu and selecting Reduce File Size. The problem with using that method was that it virtually destroys your images, making them so blurry that you can barely see what they are.

Thankfully, with Acrobat 8 and 9, a new PDF optimization method is available. The PDF Optimizer can be found in two places.

pdf_screen-artifacts.jpgIf you place a PSD file with a transparent background into Adobe InDesign and export it as a high-res PDF, you may notice that the edges of your placed image look horrible. There's usually a black & white halo around the edges of the transparent PSD (see the image above for example). You won't see them on a placed TIF file, and they generally don't print anyway, but they're annoying nonetheless.

Fortunately, Bob Levine at InDesignSecrets has finally spilled the beans on what the problem is, and how to fix it. In most all cases, it's as simple as turning off the Smooth Images feature in Acrobat.

Read Screen Artifacts on Transparent PSDs in Exported PDFs Can Be Deceiving…Most of the Time for more information.

Acrobat finds a new home on the Web

Adobe Acrobat 9 & Acrobat.com

Remember when hardly a week went by in the early months of 2008 without some sort of Apple product announcement? The past few weeks, Adobe has been doing its best Apple imitation, with a slew of product news aimed at creative professionals.

Macworld has an article covering the latest offerings from Adobe, Acrobat 9 and the companion Web site, Acrobat.com

Not all PDFs are created equal

AcrobatNot all PDFs are created equal—just ask any prepress manager. With Adobe Acrobat offering so many versions of PDF documents, and so many options for creating them, it's hard to know what you need to do to prepare a truly press-ready PDF.

Layers Magazine has a great article on creating perfect pre-press ready PDFs for print designers.

For what it's worth, I stick with PDF/X-1a for my PDF output. PDF/X-1a creates a "dumb" PDF that will work on virtually all PDF-capable RIPs by removing all transparency, embedding fonts and basically offering the least amount of options in your PDF file.

To brush-up on the various PDF formats, you can take a look at this post I made a while back which features a brief description of each format.

Avoiding the white box around shadows in your PDFs

white box problem in PDFs

"I have an issue with drop shadows and spot colors in Adobe InDesign. When I use a drop shadow in front of a spot color background it looks fine in InDesign, and prints properly as spot color separations. But a white box shows up around the image in Acrobat when I make a PDF to show the client. Is there a way around this problem?"

An excellent question, and one that comes up a lot for designers working with spot color. There are several ways to make sure your spot color jobs preview properly in Adobe Acrobat.

My friends over at CreativeTechs have the scoop on avoiding the white box around shadows in Adobe InDesign.

Extract images from Acrobat PDF files using Photoshop

Photoshop CS3 and CS2 both let you easily extract images that are embedded in PDF documents. My friends over at CreativeTechs have the simple solution.

PDF font subsetting explained

I'm often asked about Font Subsetting when exporting and creating PDF files using Distiller or directly from InDesign, so I thought I would post this explanation of what Font Subsetting is.

When generating a PDF, it is possible to include only those characters in a font that were used in the document. This partial font is called a “Font Subset”. You adjust font subsetting in either the Acrobat Distiller job options or InDesign's export dialog under “Subset fonts below X%”. The percent represents how much of the font is used in your document before it gets embedded in the PDF file. So a setting of 100% would mean that the entire font would be subsetted in the PDF file, while a setting of 5% would mean that you would have to use nearly all the characters available before the font would be subsetted.

The primary advantages of subsetting fonts are that it not only reduces the PDF file size, but RIP's (raster image processors) are forced to use the subset font even if the system has the full font available. Your PDF is slightly larger than other PDF files, but is also less likely to have problems with substituted fonts when output.

Disadvantages of font subsetting are that it prevents your output provider from making edits to the PDF file if necessary, while still maintaining font integrity.

Learn more about the PDF/X-4 format in InDesign CS3

PDF/X-4One of the many new additions to InDesign CS3 is the PDF/X-4 format in the export dialog box. There are several PDF formats, each with their own specific uses in the industry, and the latest version has it's particular strong points as well.

Steve Werner at InDesignSecrets.com has a great introductory article explaining the new PDF/X-4 format that is quite informative.

Create a searchable PDF from your scanner

In this episode of the Creative Suite Video Podcast, we'll not only see how to create a PDF from a flatbed scanner, but we'll also make the text searchable using Acrobat's OCR capabilities while maintaining 100% readability and accuracy.