Some pitfalls to be avoided when exporting PDFs for print from Illustrator.

Avoid flattening artwork (ie printing to PostScript or saving as PDF 1.3 or under) – as that causes many transparency effects, including drop-shadows, to be converted into raster art.

If you must export flattened artwork don’t forget to set the “Document Raster Effects Settings” (under Effect on the menu bar) to a suitable level. Unfortunately, the default is 72dpi.

Also, ensure that any important type or vector information is kept in a separate layer above “background” objects. The idea is to add a virtual layer of separation between type and effects. “In Front” and “Behind” is not enough – use layers. [The same applies for InDesign.]

“Save PDF with editing capability” feature can cause massive file sizes; the difference with the PDF of the cover of the magazine I work on: a few hundred MB or just a few MB!

Another thing – try to remember to use “Save a Copy” or to otherwise be very careful not to get your final delivery artwork confused with the working file. It’s an inherent confusion in Illustrator: PDFs should really only be used as final artwork – not as a working file. (something Illustrator seems to like doing). Particularly hate this as I have to deal with these ambiguous duplicate files at work.

Add an extra note to the file name or something. Please!

Last updated on 1st February 2019