Why PDF files are preferred for printing

Whether you’re an architect or graphic designer, one of the most rewarding aspects of any visual-based career is pressing ‘print’ after a project. At the same time, printers sometimes seem as if they have a mind of their own. Despite the odd problems with PDFs there are several key reasons why industry professionals choose PDF files for printing:

#1. Automatic Embedding

Fonts and images are supposed to be automatically embedded into PDF files once converted. But a font can only be embedded if it’s vendor or owner enabled this option in font settings. The fonts that are not embedded and are unconventional are usually substituted with a Multiple Master typeface.  Embedding a font slightly increases the file size but in turn this will solve a problem of managing font downloads or substitutions. With the information embedded in the file, this creates consistency when opening the file on different devices. This makes the PDF widely adopted and very user friendly, as they can be accessed by most anyone anywhere. 

#2. Compression with Quality

PDF files can be compressed without sacrificing quality. For instance, many clients build their presentations in InDesign where they have placed large images into the document (ideally, it’s better to downsample the images in Photoshop prior to placing them into InDesign, but many times people don’t). These images are high resolution, and when scaled down, the full data of that image will remain in the document making the file size larger than it needs to be.

When exporting the document to PDF, Adobe has a brilliant feature you can use that can scale everything in the document down, to say 300dpi. This downsampled PDF has a smaller file size meaning the document is easier to open, faster to share with colleagues, will print quicker, and take up less space on your hard drive! A manageable PDF file that has been properly downsampled, will look the same as a document with no compression when printed.  The printer then can verify the embedded page sizes, zoom in/out for quality control and preview. 

#3. Editable PDFs

In most cases, PDF files can be edited with Adobe Acrobat software. For sensitive information, you can password protect your file and apply permissions to prevent copying, changing or printing of your PDFs. If an update or a quick alteration to PDF is required, the print company can easily do it themselves to save time. These can include adding outlines, cut lines, adjusting margins, bleeds and small touch ups. 

#4. File Versatility

Properly saved PDF files can be opened on a variety of platforms and operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS mobile devices. So no matter where you take your file, be it a small mom & pop shop, a library or an industrial size print company, everyone will be able to quickly open and work with it. PDF file’s versatility can be expanded by opening and working on it in AutoCAD, Adobe Suite or other specialty graphics software. 

Printing without surprises

In conclusion, even with the right margins, perfectly positioned images, and carefully selected borders, the printing process can result in unexpected changes. There are also more PDF programs that are being launched and some of these programs may lack the sophistication in proper PDF export function, which are typically found in the Architectural, Engineering & Construction Industries. But fear not: with correct file setup, proper design processes and clear communication with your printer, these risks are minimized and your project will print without any surprises! 

Have more questions?

Our team at TR Trades Reproduction has seen it all. With over 50 years of experience dealing with all sorts of files from many different programs, we know what to look for when setting up and troubleshooting files. We are the experts, and we will make it look good!

You can reach us by phone at 604-736-4571 x2 or by email at for any questions, comments or to request a quote.

We hope that you’ve found our blog post helpful and look forward to speaking with you! 

TR Trades Reproduction Ltd.

1744 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver BC
604.736.4571 x 2

Mon to Thurs 7:30am to 9:00pm
Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm
Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm
After hours printing available!

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