Join Russell Viers for an in-depth discussion in this video What does the Properties window tell us?, part of 11 Things Every Newspaper Should Know About PDFs.
So after I've looked around this thing and I've got a feel for what's going on, I'm going to go to the next level here, and I'm going to go to File > Properties. You could learn a lot from Properties. In fact, we're going to learn a few of the key variables in this chapter, but there are so many variables that you almost learn them over time. Let's go to Properties and just see what it tells us about this file. There are two Key panels I want to look at. We're not worried about security unless it were to say printing is not allowed. You know, we're not really too worried about that or even changing the document is not allowed. Then we would want to get with our customer probably and say hey, you sent me a secure PDF.
Can you not do that so that I can work on this. That's a possible problem. But that's not the key thing that we're going to worry about here. Description and fonts. This is what we're really interested in. Fonts? There are no fonts in this image. Hm, let's go to Description. The application that created it was Cork Express, good to know. The PDF producer was Photoshop. Hm, and it's been saved for Acrobat 1.3. What do these three things tell us? Well, in order it tells us that it was created in Quark Version 8.5. Well, I know that in Quark, if you print or export. Doesn't matter you can't preserve transparency into a PDF it flattens you have no choice okay so that tells me then this PDF has no transparencies that I need to worry about.
The PDF producer was Photoshop. Well, you can't produce a PDF using the Photoshop engine out of Quark. So this tells me that this PDF was opened in Photoshop and saved as Photoshop PDF. PDF version 1.3, that also tells me that it's been flattened, so both of me tell me that it's a flattened non transparent PDF, but this tells me it It was opened in Photoshop. That's another reason why there are no fonts. So I know, even without looking at it, that it's going to be all Rastor, I have no choice. So, that properties tell us that stuff.
Let's look at another one. Let's go to the same ad, but this time it wasn't opened in Photoshop and see what it tells us. Properties, once again, Cork 8.5, and this was distilled. Okay, it was using Distiller. Well if it used Distiller, we also know there are no transparencies. So distiller tells us there's no transparency, Cork 8.5 tells us its no transparency, and 1.3 no transparency. So you use Quark maybe say well, hold on, Russell.
I can do transparency in Quark. I can do drop shadows and opacity controls. Yes. You are correct. But the PDFs that come out of Quark are all flattened. You don't have a choice. So I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. No transparencies in this. Let's go to Fonts. Embedded subset, embedded subset, embedded subset, so I know that the fonts are embedded. I also know it's a subset, which tells me that all the characters of Popaladoshio, may not be there. So, if the customer says hey, can you change my phone number or can you add a word in there, or change that? We may or may not be able to, using that font.
We may have to substitute with a font we have on our system, or we may have to use other techniques to do it. But just going with the touch up text tool, because its subset, we may not have that font. The properties tells us all that. Good to know. Let's go to this PDF. If I zoom in and look you can see that its vector type. Okay if I go to File > Properties. It tells us it was made with a Photoshop PDF producer. Now how is that? Photoshop's all raster isn't it? Well, if the type is set on a layer in Photoshop.
And saved as a Photoshop PDF, then the type retains its vector characteristics. So this tells us that, yes it was made in Photoshop and because I zoomed in and looked at the layer it tells us that that text is still Vector. What else does that tell us? It tells us that that text is probably still editable, which means that if the customer wants to make a type change in any way I can actually open this PDF in Photoshop and make the change. What's the limitation? Font. I'm going to have to make sure that I have the font.
You know what? If I don't, I can try to find something close. It's pretty easy to swap those out in Photoshop because it's just going to be a layered Photoshop file. That's what that's telling us. Let's look at this ad right here. File > Properties. This was made in PageMaker, PageMaker 6.5. So we know there's no transparency, cuz first of all PageMaker couldn't even do transparency. Second of all, it was run through distiller, third, PDF 1.3. 1.3 had no support for transparency, so if you ever get a PDF created in any way with 1.3, there's no transparency, so you don't have to worry about flattening anywhere in your process. It already came to you flattened.
Let's look at these two versions. Streetcar not flattened. Let me move this over just a bit. Let's look at streetcar flattened. Let's look at these two side by side. Look the same, visually they're identical. Let's look at the properties of the one that's flattened. File > Properties. It's created in InDesign, it was produced with the Adobe PDF library. That tells us it was exported from InDesign, not distilled. Anything with that Adobe PDF library is an export. Or, if you're in Illustrator, it's saved as a PDF out of Illustrator, you'll also get that.
Bu notice it went back to 1.3. So, this tells me, could contain transparency, this tells me, could contain transparency, and this tells me, nope, it's flattened. Fonts? Yep, Arial, embedded as a subset. Arial subset, black oak subset, so these are all subsets, so it tells us the fonts are imbedded but we may only have those characters. We may not have other characters so if they call up and say, hey, can you put an exclamation mark after the word green'. Maybe not.
If I don't have that font, then no, 'cuz the exclamation mark for that font isn't embedded in this PDF. Let's look at this one now. This is the unflattened version. File > Properties. Created in InDesign, may contain transparency. Exported, hm, may contain transparency. PDF version 1.4 or newer, yes. Yes, there's a likely chance that this will contain transparency. Now, if whoever created the ad didn't do any opacity, drop shadows, place anything from Photoshop with knockouts to transparency, then no, it won't.
Doesn't necessarily have to, but we know there's a pretty good chance that there's something in here that the customer may have created that has transparency. If this said InDesign CS5 Distiller 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, then no, it would be flattened. Because Distiller when you print in Distill you flatten you have no choice. All right, so those are some of the things I look at when I look at these properties. Are the fonts embedded number one, are they subset number two, and what created it? How was it created? And what version of the PDF language are we using? And the more you can learn about what the limitaitons are of each application. For example, like we said, Page Maker doesn't have transparency. Anything created in PageMaker won't have transparency.
Quark has transparency in later versions, but you can't export or print transparency. So we know that if it was created in Quark it's not going to have trasnparency. InDesign is the tricky one. Let's look at the flat version quickly by going to Window, Advanced, Print Production, Flattener Preview. Well, there's no choices here for transparency, so yes, we know for a fact there's no transparence in there. This is the one where if you remember, in properties there's a likelihood of transparency.
Well let's take a look. tools, print production, Latin or preview. Up, yet there's transparent objects. Yep. This whole ad is being affected by transparency. So what does that mean? Well, if I'm going to place this in an earlier version of Quirk that doesn't understand transparency and flattening, I'm going to have a problem. I want to make sure that I flatten it before it goes in there. For example, where it fades from this picture to this background. It will know how to blend that so it'll change that into just a white stripe or a white box going underneath there.
There's all sorts of other problems that could be created if you take non flattened transparent PDFs and put them in an application or use them in a way that doesn't understand it. So, File > Properties. It's just something I do on every single PDF that I look at.
- Checking out the PDF
- Digging deeper with the Output Preview panel
- Simple fixes with the TouchUp tools
- Converting colors
- Managing transparency
- Working with fonts
- Preflighting PDFs
- Repairing PDFs with Photoshop and Illustrator
- Exporting vs. printing and distilling