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Exporting projects as PDFs

A very useful way of exporting your work to a service bureau is to first create it in QuarkXPress (or any other program) and convert it to PDF format.

Although printing is immensely sophisticated, slow workflows involving complex graphics and numerous fonts from original applications make even the simplest of documents a monumental task for preprint production to decipher. And this doesn't even address other issues, such as importing files from one application to another, cross-platform (i.e. Mac to PC) difficulties and using different output devices. Varying versions of fonts can reflow and layouts may not print as anticipated. This is where conversion to PDFs comes in.

With Adobe's PostScript language as the standard printing technology for producing high-quality print, PDFs have gained widespread acceptance. PDFs device-independent page-description language ensures your documents will always print with the highest quality achievable by almost any output device. When the PDF file is received at the print shop, preflight tasks are reduced because all the components are in one package and viewable onscreen.

From Version 5 of Quark, it has been possible to perform this conversion from within Quark, without the expense of purchasing Adobe Acrobat. However it's still a good idea to buy Acrobat as it can be used for all the programs you may need and will offer features that a professional printer may require.

A full walk-through of using and the features of Acrobat is beyond the remit of this tutorial. However, it is important to note that, once installed your printer must be set up to operate through the "Distiller" part of Acrobat.

Converting a QuarkXPress project into PDF format:

Simply complete your project and go to FILE...Export...Layout as PDF. Choose the file name for the exported file and the folder in which you want to place it. You can also choose to generate the PDF as spreads (where facing pages continue to display side by side) by checking the Spreads box.

Go to FILE...Print and make sure that your printer's PDF setting is chosen. You will then be offered a range of options via the tabs to adjust every aspect of the projects output. (Note: When you press "Print" your browser is actually printing the page, not QuarkXPress).

PDF Output

Other considerations when deciding to go the PDF route are:

If you want to distribute the PDF file without sending the font files as well - which is generally the case for preprint - choose "Embed All Fonts". (Avoid using TrueType fonts in documents targeted for PDF output as these fonts don't always embed properly).

Bear in mind that is is possible to open PDF files into a QuarkXPress picture box using the standard FILE...Get Picture command. It's becoming more common for ads to arrive in PDF format and this is an easy way to incorporate PDF files into your work.

Finally, it may be that you need to email the document to the client for comments/approval. Converting from a QuarkXPress document to a PDF can almost double the size of the document. You can open the PDF file in Photoshop and you will get a dialogue box...

PDF file opened in Photoshop

...asking what resolution you want. 72 dpi is the default and, as the project is for emailing, keep it at that. This will drastically reduce the size of the file. Save over the original Acrobat PDF as a Photoshop PDF (which anyone can view in Acrobat) and email to the client.