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 by Gabriel de Kadt