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Individuals who regularly deal with printing require a suitable PDF format to optimize their tasks. When printing them in bulk, regular PDFs face many issues, including inconsistent colors and fonts. However, professionals prefer to use PDF/X format to avoid all such problems. Keep reading this article to learn everything you need about PDF/X.

In this article
  1. What Is PDF/X?
  2. What Is PDF/X Format Family?
    1. Create a PDF/X using Adobe Acrobat
    2. Convert a PDF to PDF/X in Foxit
    3. Use PDF Studio to Convert PDF to PDF/X
  3. Bonus: PDFelement – A Great AI-Powered Tool To Print PDFs

Part 1. What is PDF/X?

PDF/X format is a subset of the Portable Document Format (PDF) designed explicitly for the graphic arts industry. Moreover, this format ensures reliable reproduction of graphical content across different platforms and printing devices. In addition, PDF/X standards define guidelines for creating PDF files suitable for reliable and accurate printing.

These standards include specifications for color spaces, fonts, and other elements fit for high-quality printing. Using PDF/X-4:2010 or any other version, professionals can ensure that documents will display and print as intended, regardless of the software or hardware. All in all, it promotes efficiency in print workflows to reduce the likelihood of errors and costly reprints.

Part 2. What Is PDF/X Format Family?

Upon understanding PDF/X's meaning, let's discuss various versions present in this format's family. All the versions in this family are built on the familiar PDF format, specifically designed for the world of printing. Each of these standards is suited for different printing scenarios, handling different colors and transparencies.

Overall, every PDF/X format helps streamline the exchange of graphic files between designers and printers. So, without wasting any time, go through this table to learn about every member of the PDF/X family.

Specification Basis Description
PDF/X-1:1999 PDF 1.2 This PDF format is designed for the exchange of ready-to-print documents in the graphics industry. So, all fonts and color spaces must be specified.
PDF/X-1:2001 PDF 1.3 Similar to PDF/X-1:1999, but with additional requirements for handling color management.
PDF/X-1a:2001 PDF 1.3 You will observe the additional requirement for font embedment. Moreover, this PDF/X format needs all images with CMYK or spot colors.
PDF/X-1a:2003 PDF 1.4 It is an updated version of PDF/X-1a:2001 with minor modifications to improve consistency.
PDF/X-3:2002 PDF 1.3 With the same color management requirements as PDF/X 2001, it is designed for the exchange of graphics content. Plus, this format allows RGB and grayscale images for printing.
PDF/X-3:2003 PDF 1.4 Similar to PDF/X-3:2002 but with minor revisions for compatibility.
PDF/X-2:2003 PDF 1.4 Using this format, users will see the additional features compared to PDF/X-1:2001. These features include support for transparency and optional content for a perfect printing process.
PDF/X-4 PDF 1.6 This format allows for more advanced color management, including support for ICC-based management, transparency, and layers.
PDF/X-4:2008 PDF 1.6 An updated version of PDF/X-4 with minor revisions to improve consistency and compatibility.
PDF/X-4:2010 PDF 1.6 Further refinements to PDF/X-4:2008 aimed at improving consistency and addressing issues identified in earlier versions.
PDF/X-5g PDF 1.6 It is perfect for exchanging graphical content with external specifications governing the data format.
PDF/X-5n PDF 1.6 Similar to PDF/X-5g but with specific restrictions on font embedding and color handling.
PDF/X-6 PDF 2.0 With this latest format, users can add annotations and form fields inside the visible area of a page.

Part 3. How To Create a PDF/X File?

Once you are familiar with what is PDF/X format, it is time to get familiar with different methods to create these documents. Many online and offline PDF to PDF/X converters are available for users to use easily. Here, we will introduce you to the best offline methods to create PDF/X files.

Method 1. Create a PDF/X using Adobe Acrobat

With the help of this advanced PDF converter, users can create PDF/X-4 and other such formats in several different ways. You can simply save the PDF as a PDF/X format document or apply PDF standards to get the desired files.

However, the best way to ensure PDF/X standards application is through the “Preflight” feature. Let’s see how to apply this method to ensure an optimized PDF to PDF/X conversions.


Upon importing your PDF file to Adobe Acrobat, access the “All Tools” tab to reveal a list of all the tools present in this PDF converter. Now, hit the “Use Print Production” button to enter a sub-window with the relevant features.

enter use print production feature

Afterward, you can simply select the "Save as PDF/X" option to store the document in your desired format. Alternatively, click on the "Preflight" button to access a dialog box further for a better PDF to PDF/X format conversion. 

access preflight mode for conversion

On this "Preflight" dialog box, access the "PDF Standards" drop-down menu and reveal the "PDF/X" settings. After selecting your desired format, such as PDF/X-1, hit the “Analyze and Fix” button and save this file in your desired location.

choose the desired pdfx version

Method 2. Convert a PDF to PDF/X in Foxit

You can also make use of other versatile PDF management tools like Foxit PDF Editor to carry out PDF to PDF/X conversion. For this purpose, you will be able to use the "Preflight" feature to create this PDF format effectively. Anyone can carry out this PDF to PDF/X format conversion process by following these simple steps.


Start the process by adding your PDF file to Foxit PDF Editor for PDF to PDF/X conversion. Moving forward, click the “Convert” tab and hit the “Preflight” option from the available set of options.

access the preflight feature

Now, you will get access to a new dialog box from where you need to choose “Foxit” from the drop-down menu after accessing the “Profile” tab. Afterward, expand the “PDF/X” drop-down icon to reveal all the versions available for this conversion.

reveal pdfx family versions

Upon revealing all the options, select any member of the PDF/X family, including PDF/X-4 and many more. Finally, press the “Analyze and Fix” button and save this newly converted file to your device.

pick the desired pdfx format

Method 3. Use PDF Studio to Convert PDF to PDF/X

Individuals who want to utilize a more straightforward method to carry out PDF to PDF/X format conversion can use PDF Studio. With its diverse PDF conversion functionality, users will be able to undertake this conversion process directly. Follow this step-by-step guide to convert your PDF documents to the desired PDF/X-3 format.


Once you add the PDF document to PDF Studio, click on the “Convert” tab to reveal a diverse set of PDF conversion options.

access the convert feature

Moving further, press the “PDF/X” drop-down menu and choose the “PDF/X-3:2003” option to select this PDF/X version for optimized conversion. Now, save this converted file in your desired location to complete the PDF to PDF/X conversion process.

select pdfx format and save file

Bonus: PDFelement – A Great AI-Powered Tool To Print PDFs

Professionals wanting to optimize the printing process without converting PDF to PDF/X format should get their hands on Wondershare PDFelement. With this multi-functional PDF printer, you can choose from several built-in page sizes, such as legal, A4, and B4, for a desired printing process. Besides, users get to select a specific page range and orientation to perform a targeted operation.

what is pdfx

Using its different modes, you will also be able to make the documents optimal for poster and booklet printing. Also, this PDF printer allows you to print comments and forms along with the document content. Conclusively, it is a perfect AI-powered tool for professionals who regularly print documents in bulk.


Throughout this article, you have learned everything you need to know about PDF/X file format. Also, we have introduced the readers to several methods to carry out the PDF to PDF/X format conversion process. However, we recommend that users get their hands on Wondershare PDFelement if they want to optimize the way they print PDFs.

Audrey Goodwin
Audrey Goodwin Apr 26, 24
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12 years of talent acquired in the software industry working with large publishers. Public speaker and author of several eBooks on technical writing and editing.