There are several different ways to create a PDF file. One way is to take any other document file format and convert it to create a PDF; another way is to create a PDF from scratch; yet another method is to Print to PDF from a supporting application. While all these methods are equally valid, the recommended way to create a PDF is to start from scratch and then add the content as you go along. This requires the use of a fully capable PDF editor such as PDFelement, which offers not only a way to create PDFs from blank files but also create PDFs using the other methods we mentioned. However, the focus of this article is on what factors you need to keep in mind in order to create the perfect PDF file.
Images are an important visual accompaniment to text. When creating a PDF with images, there are several elements to be considered. Here are a few of them:
Issue: Since PDFs are typically used to disseminate information to large groups of people, a common way to do this is to serve them on the web as viewable or downloadable PDF files. In such an instance, files with a lot of high-resolution images may be bulky and counterintuitive to easy handling.
Recommendation: To deal with this issue, you can optimize a PDF to reduce its file size. This will reduce the resolution of images in the file; however, since it is for web use, a lower resolution won’t impact the clarity of the images too much. Moreover, PDFelement allows you to choose the level of compression in order to maintain the clarity of any hi-res images in the file.
Issue: As we saw, the resolution of images doesn’t have to be very high for them to be clear on a PDF file shared over the web. However, for larger display formats such as outdoor advertising or physical print jobs, the resolution must be maintained without loss of clarity.
Recommendation: Once again, file size optimization is the answer to this problem. However, unlike what we did for web use, compressing a file too much will cause images to have a greatly reduced resolution when compared to the original. In such a case, we recommend that you choose the highest quality (lowest compression level) when optimizing a PDF in PDFelement. This will help maintain the resolution and resulting clarity of the images but still reduce the file size to a considerable degree.
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Issue: PDF layers are generally seen in composite content created on design platforms such as Visio, InDesign, and AutoCAD. The PDF outputs of these applications have layers that can be shown or hidden for printing or displaying on a screen/monitor. However, for sharing PDFs and allowing them to be opened on browsers and other PDF tools, layers may cause issues.
Recommendation: Where possible, flatten any transparency layers in a PDF file that are not printable. In other words, you’ll need to create a single-layer PDF from a multi-layer PDF, and you can easily do this with the Flatten PDF feature in PDFelement. The feature merges all printable layers into a single layer, making the file more suitable for sharing to a wider audience.
Issue: The color mode for a particular PDF will decide how the file gets printed when it goes to publication, which makes it a critical aspect of PDF creation. Typically, the RGB color model is used for displaying content on digital screens. However, if you print out the document, you may notice some color variations. That’s because printers use a different color model called CMYK.
Recommendation: When creating a PDF file for printing purposes, make sure you set the color profile accurately. In other words, it should be set to CMYK rather than RGB. This will help you avoid color variation issues between what you see on your computer screen and the colors that actually get printed out in a physical format such as a poster or banner.
Issue: PDF is highly suitable for complex images, but the resolution issue crops up once again. Intricate images that need a higher resolution typically make your PDF much heavier in terms of file size. In such cases, there is a solution.
Recommendation: One way to circumvent this problem is to use larger images that cover the entire page of a PDF file. Photography portfolios are a good example of when this is required. Of course, packing multiple images into a single page is more efficient, but you’re sacrificing clarity for the more complex images. Instead, use a higher resolution with dimensions that match the standard PDF size, which is A4 in terms of printing. You can choose between portrait and landscape modes based on the orientation of the original images. This way, the user won’t have to zoom in on the document, which affects image clarity.
Issue: In PDF form, the interactive elements, such as radio buttons, checkboxes, and drop-down menus, are considered to be widgets. In addition, you may also have annotations in the document that you want to be displayed to anyone viewing the document. Unfortunately, in many cases, these widgets are not printable, which means the document itself won’t make sense when printed.
Recommendation: To avoid this type of situation, only add widgets and visible comments that can be printed out normally. This would exclude widgets such as list boxes and dropdown menus. You can still use checkboxes and radio buttons, as long as the default value for these is ‘deselected’ or ‘unchecked.’ In addition, make sure your annotations are not hidden for printing, or else a lot of important content or notes may not be visible on a printed copy of the file. In PDFelement, the Form section contains all the form elements (widgets) that you can add to an interactive form. When creating printable forms, make sure you only use static widgets, as mentioned just now.
Issue: In many instances, you may need to use unique fonts in your PDF file for the sake of branding or style. The problem is, the fonts that you use must be accessible to online readers of the document. If not, the default PDF reader or PDF editor will use font substitution, which may result in a stark difference in font styles between the document created by the PDF creator tool you’re using and the PDF viewed by the recipient.
Recommendation: The expert view on this is to embed the fonts when creating the PDF file so that the font is available on any system on which the file is being viewed, including printed versions of the file. Most professional PDF editors will have a function to embed an entire font, and some have the option to just include the subset of the font that is required to display all the associated text in the PDF file. This will help avoid any inconsistencies when viewing or printing the document.
Now that we know the best practices for creating PDFs, let’s look at how you can optimize a PDF file using PDFelement.
PDFelement’s Optimize tool is an efficient way to control the output quality of your PDF files when compressing them. If your original file has images in a very high resolution, it can help bring them down to a more manageable size for viewing on a computer screen. On the other hand, if the file is intended for a physical print job, you can still maintain image quality while compressing the file to a considerable degree. Here’s the process for doing this in PDFelement for Mac.
1. Open the file in PDFelement by dragging it into the software interface or using the File → Open menu option at the top
2. Click File again, then bring your mouse down to Save As Other and select Optimized PDF from the three options you see
3. The default compression level will be applied and the results will be displayed in the pop-up windowpane that appears. If you need a different compression level, you can move the slider left or right. The higher the quality, the lower the compression
4. Once you’re happy with the compression and the resulting file size, click Save As and save the document with a different file name
The reduced file size will make it easier for you to share the PDF with others or upload it to the web.
As mentioned in the beginning, there are multiple ways to create a PDF file. While the Print to PDF function can be used in other applications that support saving to PDF, the other two methods can be executed in PDFelement, as shown below:
Method 1: Convert to PDF from Another Format
1.Launch PDFelement and click File → New → PDF from File
2. Select the PDF file in the Finder window and click Open
3. The file will be imported, converted to PDF, and displayed on your screen
This is the simpler way to create a PDF file from an existing document or image file. Another way is to create PDF from scratch, which involves a few additional steps, as shown in the next section.
Method 2: Create a PDF File from a Blank Document
1. Click File → New → Blank Document
2. In the Finder window, give the document a name and save it to the desired location
4. On your screen, you’ll see a blank page, which is basically your newly created PDF file with no content
4. To add text, click the Text icon in the ribbon toolbar above the document; when the toolbar view changes, click the T+ symbol/icon
5. Bring your cursor to where you want to enter the text and click there to place the text box; you can now start typing or paste content from another file
6. To exit Text mode, click the left arrow on the ribbon toolbar
7. To add an image, click the Image option and then click the Add Image icon once the toolbar view changes
8. Select the image in the Finder window and open it; it will be added to the PDF file
9. You can now reposition or resize the image to get it exactly where you want it on the document
10. Again, to exit Image mode, click the left arrow in the toolbar
11. To add other elements to the file, click the appropriate symbol in the toolbar and follow the process to add, remove, or replace the content; additional options can be viewed in the dropdown menu under the Tool menu item
The advantage of creating PDF files from scratch is that you have full control over what content you want to add, whether it’s a watermark, a header/footer, hyperlinks, annotations, and so on. New pages can be added by using the Organize Pages feature, which allows you to insert blank pages or even the contents of another PDF file. You can also combine or merge this file with other PDFs to bring in existing content, and the pages of the file can be reordered the way you want. The file can now be converted to other formats, signed, protected with encryption, etc.
In short, PDFelement allows you to create PDFs in different ways while giving you all the tools you need to enrich the document with your content.