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  • 1.  PDF settings

    Posted 01-24-2019 05:41 AM
    Hello all -

    I need a little help finding the best settings for creating PDF files out of InDesign.

    I have customers that are having a very hard time matching Pantone colors after exporting to PDF out of InDesign. Colors they have matched in the past just cannot he hit anymore. I have had them try every setting imaginable. It's become an ongoing issue ever since Pantone has changed from CMYK to Lab. And not to mention, "tweaking" their 4/C build callouts on a regular basis. It seems I can export 5 different ways and get 5 different results. Many colors are right on while others are not even in the same universe. And I'm not talking about Reflex blue turning purple or Oranges turning brown.  

    They have downloaded and installed the .csf files from IDEAlliance and are using GRACoL as their intended target. 

    The PDF's are getting RIP'd on a simple Harlequin RIP and are to be printed on an offset sheetfed press. 

    Here are some of my questions:

    1 - In InDesign, do you... keep Pantone colors set to spot and covert to process when exporting? Or are you converting to CMYK in the swatches pallet? I used to find the most accurate way was to leave them spots and covert when creating the PDF. 

    2 - Do you... check or keep unchecked "use standard Lab values for spots" if converting during export?

    3 - In the distiller settings do you use "convert to destination (preserve numbers)? And do you select "include destination profile"?

    I've been doing this for a long time, not so much anymore the past few years because my job title has changed. I don't have the luxury of sitting with pre-press and standing next to the press as much as I used to. But I'm starting to feel like I don't know what I'm doing anymore! 

    Thanks in advance for any help you guys can give me. 


    Rick Books

    Richard Books
    Business Development Manager
    Mark Andy Print Products
    Chesterfield MO
    (847) 759-2437

  • 2.  RE: PDF settings

    Posted 01-24-2019 11:00 AM
    Hi Rick,

    If you get a chance give me a call on my cell at 919-901-7792. I saw your post on the G7 forum and want to get more info, I've ran Harlequin's driving Presstek DI and have done a couple G7 Master calibrations on them this last year.



    Jeffrey Collins
    Director of Print Technologies
    Alexandria VA
    (919) 901-7792

  • 3.  RE: PDF settings

    Posted 01-25-2019 09:09 AM


    You bring up several good questions that many will question when creating PDFs.
    The short answer is that it will depend - a lot - on your workflows.

    From your message, I'll assume you want the spot colors to translate into CMYK.

    Starting with PDF/x4 as the export option out of InDesign (Creative Suite versions) -

    PDF/X‑4 (Acrobat Pro)


    This preset is based on PDF 1.4, which includes support for live transparency. PDF/X‑4 has the same color-management and International Color Consortium (ICC) color specifications as PDF/X‑3. You can create PDF/X‑4‑compliant files directly with Creative Suite 3 applications (Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop). In Acrobat 9, use the Preflight feature to convert PDFs to PDF/X‑4 DRAFT.

    PDF files created with PDF/X‑4 compliance can be opened in Acrobat 7.0 and Reader 7.0 and later.
    (You may disengage the "standard" to "none" so additional features may be selected as needed; this give you a (modified) setting based upon PDF/x-4)

    This setting preserves spot colors (as spot). (but, if you've already converted them with InDesign - they are already translated into CMYK values)
    It also preserves the color settings (under Output).
    The default is no color conversion and document profile's as output intent. [this could be an issue if the document intent is set differently]
    The approach for color conversion (in this dialog set) should match the strategy you have used to set up your workflow's color profile and conversion settings. If it is different, color will not match.

    Using Lab values for spots uses device independent color definitions for the spot colors.

    Lab values, when used in conjunction with the correct device profiles, give you the most accurate output across all devices. If color management is critical to your project, you might prefer to display, export, and print spot colors using their Lab values. The Ink Manager option Use Standard Lab Values For Spots lets you control which color mode InDesign uses for these predefined spot colors: Lab or CMYK. If you need the output to match earlier versions of InDesign, you should use the CMYK equivalent values.
    [This means you are using InDesign to translate your spot colors]

    While this is not a complete answer, from this point forward, it depends upon your RIP's setting to interpret (or not) color profiles and how you use them. If you need the profiles to be invoked by the RIP, they will need to be present within the PDF. In that case, you would want to preserve the spot colors and use the profiles - with the RIP - to translate the spots to CMYK.

    I hope that helps a little.

    Best wishes,

    Barbara Bear
    University of Wisconsin-Stout
    Menomonie, WI 54023