Join Claudia McCue for an in-depth discussion in this video Controlling Output Preview, part of Acrobat: Preflight and Print Production.
I think the Output Preview module is one of the most useful components of the Print Production tools. Like Preflight, it provides methods for discovering many attributes of a document, but in Output Preview, those discoveries are visual rather than being presented in a list as you'd see with Preflight. So let's take a look at the possibilities in Output Preview. First, I'm gonna put this in Fit in Window, so that we can see the entire page. And then I'll go to Print Production, and up at the top choose Output Preview. There's a lot going on in this dialog, so we'll start at the top.
Simulation Profile. I think you probably already know that what you see on your monitor versus what you will see come off a printing press, those are two very different things. If you're in possession of a really nice monitor and you keep it calibrated and you're running all of your color profiles and so forth, you can certainly come closer. But still, you're looking at light coming at you versus ink on paper. However, Acrobat does try to approximate what the printed result would look like. And this document was created with the output intent, the destiny, if you will, of being printed on a web press on coded paper.
And let's see if it would look different if instead it were printed on, let's say, newsprint. Now it doesn't really look any different, does it? However, if I choose Simulate Paper Color, see how much duller that looks, and notice that that also checks Simulate Black Ink. Now you know it wouldn't really look quite this bad if it was printed on newsprint, so I think this is exaggerated. But I think the intention here is just to point out that this would look very different printed on different stock on a different press. So I'm gonna switch this back to its original choice, its output intent, and I'm gonna uncheck Simulate Paper Color and Simulate Black Ink, so those can be a little stubborn if they stay checked.
Simulate Overprinting. It's kind of hard to tell what actually overprints here, but it's where this orange bar overlaps this gray artwork below. So if I uncheck Simulate Overprinting, then you don't see that little overlap band. Now how would this be handy? Well maybe you're trying to track down where something overprints that you know shouldn't overprint, and there are other ways to find that as well, but this is just right here at the top. And by the way, this is checked by default, because Acrobat senses when a PDF has objects in it that overprint.
But being able to toggle that setting off and on is a way to locate something that you're trying to find. That SImulate Paper Color you saw, when I went to the newsprint, it got much duller. Even with this U.S. Web Coded, which is something that you'd see used on magazines, it tries to approximate the fact that paper is not utterly white. Your monitor shows the background as utterly nice clean bright white, but paper isn't quite that white. And again, I'll say that this is a bit exaggerated, compared to what this would look like in real life. But it's just, I think, trying to give you a sense of what will happen on press.
And again, any time you choose Simulate Paper Color, for some reason it feels compelled to check Simulate Black Ink. Well, what does that mean? Let me turn that off, and especially in his trousers down here notice how it's nice and dark. When I click this, notice that they get kind of lighter. Why is that? Well, it's because black printing ink isn't as heavy as usually your artwork is depicting onscreen. So checking Simulate Black Ink slightly weakens the display of black ink to more realistically render the page, and again, I think it's a bit exaggerated, black ink isn't quite that (mumbling) But again, it's to give you some sense of what happens when it's really ink on paper.
In the next little section, the Show section, this is a great way to narrow things down. Let's see if there's any content in this page that's RGB. I'll click this pulldown and look at that nice big long list. And all I really want to do is choose RGB, are any of my images RGB? Ah, his image is RGB. Now I'm gonna assume that the other images are CMYK. Ah, but I know that I have another bit of artwork down here and it's not CMYK. So what is it? Well, it's something called Device end.
It has spot color components to it. You know, there's some overlap here. This little square that's up above the color square, is actually just a grayscale image. So if I were to go through here and say, Well, show me gray, it doesn't show me that. It actually sees it as just a black plate in a CMYK image, so some of this, even though I think they're defined correctly, they may not display correctly, and you may never need all of these very subtle choices here. I think most commonly you're going to look if something's Spot Color, if it's CMYK, or if it's RGB.
Those are gonna be your big questions. There are other things that it can show you, Smooth Shades, which we would call gradients, or sometimes vignettes, sort of an older term. Registration Color, and that should never be in the heart of the page. You know that should only be Trim Marks, and Crop Marks, and little Registration Marks, which are sort of leftover from the ancient times when we output film, which we almost never do anymore. I could isolate just text, I could say, Hey, just show me where there's line art, and line art can be anything from logo to just geometric shapes that were created, in this case, in InDesign.
So that big long list will let you winnow through and find out the nature of objects in your page. And then when you're done you can go back up to the top of the list and choose Show All. Now what if I want to see where the Trim and Bleed zones are? I want to make sure that those are defined correctly in the file because when this PDF is put into an imposition program for layout, we want to make sure that it's gonna center correctly, and so forth. So when I check Show art, trim and bleed boxes, you can see this little green line around, that's my trim line.
The bleed line is a blue line, so it's a little bit harder to see. In fact, I'm gonna turn off down here, in Separations, I'm gonna turn off all the plates so that all we're looking at are the trim boxes. So in most cases you're gonna find that art and trim fall in exactly the same spot, and so you're seeing that green line. And then the bleed box is the blue one; I don't know why they didn't make that red, but they didn't. So now I'll turn my Process and Spot Plates back on. And that brings us to near the bottom of this dialog, and we'll talk about Separations.
If you're trying to locate objects using a Spot Color you didn't intend to use, well, this could help you find that, it could help you narrow things down. So if I wonder where that warm gray's being used, I can just uncheck it, turn it back on, ah, now it's easy to spot, no pun intended. 804, that's that orange bar at the top. And then the purple is actually in this little image right here. This is sort of an odd colored painting, and they felt that the best way to render it was to print it in spot colors. And that's gonna mean that this is gonna be an expensive job to run, but maybe a more faithful rendering of that very important artwork.
But there's one more thing that this does, it provides, what I would call, a rolling densotometer. So if I roll my cursor around on the screen, watch the numbers next to CMYK as I roll over this picture of the artist. And it's giving me the values of the particular spot I'm on at the moment. However, notice down here it says, Sample Size, Point Sample. Well, I might be hovered over just that one renegade pixel with an odd value. I think you get a better fix on this if you choose something like 3 x 3 pixels, or 5 x 5, I think I'll go for 5 x 5, that's still a very small area.
So, for example, if I were concerned that the skin tones were out of balance, then scrolling around on his face I could get an idea, you know, if you're used to working by the numbers, that makes pretty good sense, and actually, he's in pretty good shape. And this, being a spot color, all it's gonna show me is that that Pantone warm gray eight in the area behind him is 70%. This orange up here is a spot color, 804, it's a solid, so forth. The logo is all processed colors, so on.
So this gives you a great idea of exactly what's going on, if you think by the numbers. And one more set of numbers you might be concerned about in a job that goes to press, and that's Total Area Coverage, down here at the bottom. I'm gonna click that, and you notice a lot of things turn bright green. And in this case, green is not necessarily good news. There's a limit to how much ink you can pile up in one spot on a given press and stock combination. Sheet fed offset presses running coded stock will support 300 to 340%.
And what do I mean, how can you have 300%? Well, if I put my cursor in this very large dark green area, notice at the bottom, that I'll move my cursor, the number will change, but I want you to watch this area here as I put my cursor back over into the picture. 297, so look at the values for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, 74 plus 68 plus 67 plus 88, that comes out to 297%. If that's happening in just little tiny areas, you can get away with it. But this is a relatively large area, and we run the risk that we might have some misbehavior on press, the ink might start to pick back up off the paper.
And then let's continue thinking about the amount of ink you can pile up. Heat set web presses, running something like magazine stock, can handle 280 to 320. So since that's really the destiny of this, it's really gonna be a magazine page, let's set this up to 300. Ah, see, just one or two tiny spots this isn't gonna present a problem. So the default setting here is 280, but don't let that frighten you. Be sure to set this to something that's realistic based on the actual printing conditions here.
So I'm gonna set this to 300, and now I know that this is really not gonna be a problem on press. But as you go down toward uncoded stock, newsprint requires even lower total area coverage, usually no higher than 240. How would you know this? It's something you would ask the printer. And how would you fix this if it exceeds the total area coverage? Well, you have to open up the image in Photoshop, re-separate it so that it falls inside the requirements. One last little thing down here, Page has Transparency, yes.
I don't see and Drop Shadows, I don't see anything fading into anything else, so what's it talking about here? Well, it's kind of subtle, there is transparency in the page. In this case it's talking about the silhouette of the artist, because that's been accomplished with a layer mask in Photoshop. So to us, the area around him is empty. To InDesign, which originated this document, and to Acrobat now, it says, Well this isn't exactly empty, it has transparency so that everything behind it is showing through. Does this really matter? It might, if you were sending this to a really ancient workflow.
I know that that's not the destiny of this file, so it's nothing to worry about. But, again, that's the job of the Output Preview dialog, it's trying to tell you, as much as it can, about this document so that you can make your judgments. So these are just some of the forensic tools that are available in Output Preview. And keep in mind that while Output Preview highlights these attributes for you, sometimes you're gonna need a sharp eye to see some smaller or more subtle features. Still, you may find that Output Preview becomes your first choice when you want to take a quick X-Ray of a file.
Fortunately, Acrobat Pro DC offers extensive tools for analyzing a PDF and determining its suitability for print. In this course, Claudia McCue helps you get the most from these tools, including preflight profiles, the Output Preview options, flattening, page boxes, and printer marks. She also explains the pros and cons of editing content in Acrobat vs. the original authoring applications, and shows how to manage color with the Ink Manager and the Convert Color function. After watching this course, you'll be able to use Acrobat Pro DC to find and fix many common problems before you go to print.
- Analyzing a document
- Using single checks
- Creating and using custom preflight profiles
- Choosing the correct PDF standard for print
- Using Output Preview options
- Editing vectors, images, and text in PDFs
- Controlling page boxes to crop a PDF
- Adding printer marks
- Using Ink Manager
- Creating trap presets
- Converting to PDF with Acrobat Distiller