View Full Version : Is .PDF/x-1:2001a the same as .pdf for LSI?

09-13-2010, 06:55 AM
LSI has a very picky demand for a file format of .pdf/x-1:2001a. That's an intimidatingly-specific commandment! I started to look into it, and the first website I found on the topic is http://www.planetpdf.com/creative/article.asp?contentid=6541 which says, "I also wanted to make clear that PDF/X-1 is not a new or experimental file format; for PDF/X-1 is PDF..." and then goes on to explain that one IS the other.

Further confusing me is the fact that my Photoshop save option offers .pdf, but not any picky, specific TYPE of .pdf. For Photoshop, .pdf is .pdf is .pdf.

So what I'm wondering is this: is LSI essentially just asking for a finished .pdf file, ready to print, or do they actually MEAN something more particular than that by fussing over .pdf/x-1:2001a?

09-13-2010, 07:03 AM
There are a slew of settings for a .PDF output file including things like printers marks, compression formats and all sorts of other stuff. In InDesign when you output to a PDF you have to set all these things up, usually according to your printer's specifications. Surely LSI has some sort of spec list for setting up the PDF correctly. I'd ask them, most printers will send you a sheet that specifies exactly what settings to use. If you aren't using InDesign or Quark for your output, I don't know what to tell you. InDesign is well worth the couple of hundred dollars it costs.

09-13-2010, 07:09 AM
PDF/X-1:2001a is actually a very specific subset of PDF, primarily designed for physical printing. Most people who want a PDF for professional printing purposes are expecting PDF/X-1. For instance:

All fonts must be embedded in the PDF file, rather than requiring the host system to have them installed.
All images must be either in CMYK or spot-color formats (suitable for professional printing), rather than monitor-optimized RGB.
The various layout and bleed boxes cannot be left undefined.
You cannot have any active content (forms that can be filled out in Acrobat Reader, PDF scripts, sounds or movies, etc.) in a PDF/X-1 file.

If you're on a Mac, for instance, you'll notice that the built-in system-wide PDF-generator tool has options for 'Save as PDF' and 'Save as PDF-X'; the latter will embed fonts and prepare all images.

If you're saving in Photoshop's own export-as-PDF, you need to go into PDF options and pick the PDF/X-1a option (http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Photoshop/11.0/WSA79FA899-BC95-401e-BD44-5B26BC31B369.html), which will embed the fonts and set up the bleeds appropriately for you. They do have a specific option for exporting PDF/X-1:2001a or PDF/X-1:2003a. (Though Adobe calls them PDF/X-1a:2001 and PDF/X-1a:2003.)

09-13-2010, 11:54 PM
Thank you SO much! Part of what threw me is their insistence on a .pdf being made via Distiller, when all my Photoshop .pdf properties report them as having been made through a ".pdf plugin for Mac" or "Quartze plug in for Mac." I was panicked, but LSI told me that's fine--as long as I render in the PDF/x... (or "high quality") formats.

09-14-2010, 12:18 AM
Glad I could help clarify. :)

Screen-display PDFs can have low-quality images, use RGB, have interactive elements, all sorts of wacky stuff suitable for use on a computer. PDFs for printing should have all high-quality images, use CMYK, embed all fonts, avoid all interactive elements, etc. PDF/X-1a is just a standard encapsulating 'what PDFs for professional printing should do' as an ISO document.

For anyone who has Acrobat, using Distiller is probably the easiest way to ensure you have a professional print-ready PDF file without worrying about settings like 'PDF/X-1a:2001 compliant' and suchnot. That's probably why they originally told you the PDF had to be made in Distiller. :)