The benefits of receiving PDF proofs

Answered by Michael Jahn, PDF Evangelist, Agfa Corporation

Could you please describe the benefits to receiving PDF proofs instead of bluelines or digital hard copy proofs? The print buyers in our company really like the PDF and soft proofs, however, the marketers say they are frustrating.

Any advice you can give to help the marketers get over this problem would be greatly appreciated, especially since bluelines are becoming a thing of the past.

PDF (Portable Document Format) is an excellent way to review design, prepress work, and post-imposition files. I travel and speak at conferences for Agfa, and often have to review tutorials, product package design, and brochures while on the road. I do this using PDF exclusively.

If you are getting bluelines or hard copy digital proofs via courier (FedEx, UPS, or USPS), certainly any digital "form" (pun intended) would be faster. PDFs can be sent over the Internet and attached in an e-mail.

In fact, with the newest version of Adobe Acrobat 5.0, PDF files can be viewed and "marked up" simultaneously online with the proper WEBDav technology. Any service provider can "digitally publish" a PDF online; then several parties can use the Acrobat Viewer plug-in to place markup notes on the PDF. Some other vendors offer other technologies that enhance this significantly and support other file formats. One popular choice is technology offered by RealTime Image. Their Web addresses are:

Having said that, there are, of course, a few issues with PDFs. For instance, if you are using them as "folding dummies" -- trying to see how the printed piece will fold and trim, and how each page backs up -- well, you can't pull a PDF out from the screen and do that! However, some prepress vendors offer features within their systems that allow customers to view this digitally.

Another issue is reviewing PDFs for color accuracy or special print problems, such as moires. It's not adequate for evaluating swatch matches for color -- it is tough to trust a monitor when you hold up a piece of cloth or shoe next to it to see if the color is simulated properly.

Michael Jahn
PDF Evangelist
Agfa Corporation
200 Ballardvale Street
MS 200-4-5H
Wilmington, MA

P: 978-284-5504
F: 978.657.8984
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