Three Steps to Print-Ready PDFs

by Laura


Printing PressThe book is complete. Editing has signed off, the cover design is perfect, production has completed layout. It’s time to go to print.

But wait: The files you sent to the printer aren’t formatted correctly. Suddenly, you have to review the print specifications and return the files to production for re-formatting, incurring added expenses in file preparation and missing the window for your scheduled print run.

This doesn’t have to be you!

Sheridan Books can provide the resources and expertise you need to ensure your print PDF files are formatted correctly — the first time.

Why print-ready PDFs are necessary

The printing industry is constantly evolving, presenting us with new technologies and techniques for doing our jobs better and more efficiently. Sheridan works continually to stay up to date with the latest innovations, and we have built our workflows using industry-standard requirements and applications.

When PDF files fall outside standard specifications or are created with non-supported applications or methods, service suffers. In the finished product, publishers might see issues with the text, images, or color. To rectify these issues, files have to be re-formatted to standard specifications, causing schedules to slip, and additional costs to be incurred.

Print-ready PDFs are essential for our mutual success. Adapting files to standard workflow ensures publishers get the service, schedule, price, and quality they expect.

Where should you start?

It’s important to plan your file preparation before you’ve actually completed your book production.

Step 1: Download the guides. The Sheridan website offers valuable prepress resources, including a worksheet for creating your book’s components and a complete PDF preparation guide, which you can download from the Sheridan Books website. The Component Template Creator Excel worksheet calculates the sizes for soft covers, jackets, printed cases, and stamped cases. Completing the worksheet before designing your file will ensure correct sizing and prevent potential quality problems, extra charges, or schedule delays.

The Print-Ready PDF Specifications document provides the criteria required to ensure each component of your book is optimized for both offset and digital (inkjet) printing. The specifications cover how to format files for text, inserts, soft covers, printed cases, dust jackets, stamping dies, and end sheets.

Step 2: Ask for help. If you are using non-standard or proprietary software, have a custom workflow, or are just new to printing, you’ll likely have questions as you work through the guide. Your Sheridan Sales and Customer Service Representative is your best resource for answers! Contact us at any time during your prepress file preparation.

Step 3: Test your files. Sheridan provides a preflight test of your PDF. Before you format the entire book, create just one file — a chapter of text or the components file. Your Sales and Customer Service Representative can direct you to the Print-Ready PDF Specifications document on the Sheridan website, which contains documentation on how to create the files.

Once the files are complete, your Sales or Customer Service Representative can send the files to our Digital Service Team to test. We will run the test file exactly the same way we’d run your full book and provide accurate feedback about any potential issues. You can then adjust your PDF process so that when you create the remainder of the files, they’ll meet the required specifications.

Typically, the test can be done within 24 hours, and is often completed the same day. Publishers can simply plan to include that step as part of their production process.

Starting your production process with print specifications in mind will help ensure a smooth process and a successful print project.