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I don't like sending my original InDesign documents and all the native linked files to a printer or an output provider. If you trust them then there is nothing inherently wrong with sending those files, but I personally just want more control and I want to minimize the mistakes that could occur. So I almost always send my documents to print as PDF files. Actually I do often send a native file separately just in case they need them in an emergency, but I make it clear that if at all possible they should work from the PDF files. Anyway, let's look at how to export a colored managed PDF file.
Go to File menu, choose Export. I'll put this up on my desktop. Make sure the format is set to PDF, click Save, and now we are in the Export PDF dialog box, let's look around. In the Essential Training catalog, I went on at some length about the difference between PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3, and PDF/X-4 and so on. So I am going to keep it a little shorter right now. I will tell you that I tend to avoid High Quality Print and Press Quality. They sound really good, but they don't necessarily live up to the reputation. So in my case I am going to stick to PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, or PDF/X-4, or maybe make a few modifications myself to those. If I know that I am printing to an output provider that has the Adobe PDF print engine, then I will use PDF/X-4. It's a great way to print documents, because all the transparency in my document is saved and it's flattened in the RIP, which is awesome.
My color images are all saved in their native format. For example, RGB images stay in RGB all the way to the RIP, which is awesome. The RIP handles all of the conversions for me, and it's really a great way to go, but most of us are not so lucky, and we can't work with an Adobe PDF print engine all the time, so then I will revert to either PDF/X-3, or PDF/X-1. PDF/X-3 will flatten all the transparency, but it keeps RGB images in their RGB space, and that's a good option if you know that your output provider is really color management savvy.
If I know what they are doing with color management, then PDF/X-3 makes sense, because they'll handle the RGB to CMYK conversion for you. This is relatively common in Europe; it's not so common here in North America. So what I would usually use is PDF/X-1a, which is kind of the lowest common denominator of PDF. It flattens all the transparency, and it converts everything to CMYK or CMYK plus spot colors. So if I am creating a PDF/X-1a file, what do I do about my color? Well, let me come down to the advanced panel, I am going to make sure that this is set to High Resolution, looks good. Now I am going to look at my output panel and I am going to see that this says, convert to destination, or more precisely convert to destination preserved numbers. This means that all of my images are going to be converted. Anything that I imported as RGB, it will get converted to CMYK.
And remember, InDesign and Photoshop use the same color management engine, so the quality is going to be really excellent in that conversion. Now just a quick reminder, I've talked about preserved numbers before, but let me say it again, preserved numbers means that all the CMYK swatches in my document that I have used, and all the CMYK images that I have used will simply be passed through, the numbers will be preserved, it will not try and color management those, and that's usually a good thing. However, if I did override the color management settings, the profile settings in the Import Options dialog box or in the Image Settings dialog box, which I talked about in a movie earlier in this chapter, in that case it will actually honor those and it will convert to the destination, but for most CMYK images, and all the swatches, it will simply pass them through, and that's a good thing.
Now if I chose Convert to Destination instead, then all my CMYK images would be converted, all the Swatches will be converted, everything gets converted, and that sounds good, but it's actually dangerous. For example, back in the old days, back in InDesign CS, there was only Convert to Destination, there was no such thing as Preserved Numbers and back than what was happening, is a lot of people were getting PDF files with four color black text. That is, what was set as 100% black in their documents, would suddenly get changed into black that had some cyan, yellow, magenta in it as well, for color black or rich black, and that was really a big problem. So you don't want to use Convert to Destination unless you really want all of those colors to be corrupted and turned into other colors. So I don't like that.
I am going to choose, Convert to Destination Preserve Numbers. Now I need to specify the destination, i.e., if I do have RGB images, then how do I want them converted into CMYK? Do I want them converted to the standard US Web Coated, which is my document CMYK right now, or do I want them converted to a very specific CMYK target that I choose? Now if I have custom profile for my output device, I would definitely want to choose it here, because all my RGB images will be converted to that. In this case I am going to pick a general one. I am going to choose US Sheetfed Uncoated, because I know that it is going to be printed on uncoated paper on a sheetfed press and I don't have a perfect custom profile to use right now.
So this is the next best thing. So all my RGB images will be converted to CMYK, they will be converted to this destination CMYK, so that's going to give me better quality than I would otherwise have, and I am just about done here. Oh, I better check Ink Manager. It's always a good idea to check the Ink Manager before you make your PDF. This tells you all the different inks that are in your document, and I can see -- oh my goodness! There is a beige spot color in there. I can tell it's a spot color, because well first of all it's not one of the process colors, and second of all there is this little spot icon to the left of it.
I did not expect that and I do not want that in this PDF, so I am going to convert all spots to process, or I could just click on this little icon to the left of it. Either way it will convert that to CMYK as well in my PDF. And if that's what you want, then that's what you will get. I am also going to turn on the Use Standard Lab Values for Spots, which really should be called 'just make it look better' check box because the Standard Lab Values for Spots is a better way of converting spot colors into CMYK.
It defaults to off because well, for legacy reasons that we don't need to get into, but in general if you want better quality, go ahead and turn it on. I'll click OK. I can look through the rest of the panes to make sure everything is setup just right. I think we are ready to make this PDF, so I'll go ahead and click Export. Okay, in the next chapter we are going to move on to some other pre-press issues that you should really know about.
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