Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 612-278-1568
Fax: 612-334-5879
Cell: 612-760-3700
1109 Zane Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN. 55422
Phone: 612-375-1150
Fax: 612-334-5879
Toll Free: 1-800-230-2828

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Clear Dry Ink
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital Printing - Variable Data or Business Development
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour—Everything you wanted to know
Marketing More Effectively
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper and Substrate
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Changes, Mailing Requirements & Rates
Press Check Tips
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Shapco Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?

September 2007 TK's Korner

PDF/X, PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3 Formats

Patricia, was wanting more information on PDF file formats and the differences between PDF/X, 1a, X-3.

Now I am going to be completely honest with you, this area is one that I know just enough to be dangerous. So, I am giving you the info from one of our top guns/gurus.

He certainly knows his stuff as some of you can contest to and he is always available for you to touch base if you have any questions on how to try something or clarification. Hope this info aids you with your up coming production questions. So dive in and enjoy.

Everyone is aware of the PDF file format, but what is PDF/X and what are the variations.

Industry organizations have been working for many years to ensure that graphic arts files be written in a way that will reproduce on press exactly the way the content creator intended. Although this goal sounds simple enough, it is not. With the plethora of platforms, operating systems, software applications, color spaces, font types, file formats, and media to choose from, achieving successful blind communication between two or more production environments is a daunting task. So PDF/X was created to allow the blind exchange of production ready files. PDF/X really comes in two flavors, PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3

PDF/X-1a also eliminates the most common errors in file preparation. According to a GATF (Graphic Arts Technology Foundation) survey conducted in January 2002, among the 10 most common errors in client PDF files were the following:

  • Fonts not embedded
  • Wrong color space
  • Images missing
  • Overprint/trap issues
Sending your document as a PDF/X-1a file will guarantee that these errors do not occur because for a file to be confirmed as complying to the PDF/X-1a standard:
  • All fonts and images must be embedded
  • All elements must be encoded as CMYK or spot
  • The file must be identified as trapped or not trapped
In addition:
  • MediaBox and TrimBox or ArtBox must be defined. BleedBox and Crop marksare optional, but required by most commercial printers.
  • The output intent* must be specified either by stating a CharacterizedPrinting Condition or identifying an ICC output profile
PDF/X-3 supports a color-managed workflow, allowing the use of device-independent color (CIE L*a*b, ICC-based color spaces, CalRGB, and CalGray), in addition to CMYK and spot colors. This allows you to use ICC color profiles to specify color data later in the workflow at the output device. Characteristics of PDF/X-3 files include:
  • The PDF version is 1.3 (Acrobat 4.0).
  • All fonts are embedded.
  • Device-independent color is allowed, in addition to CMYK and spot colors.
  • Trapped key values, output intents, and the TrimBox or ArtBox arespecified. Additional keys are included to identify the file.
BleedBox and Crop marks are optional, but required by most commercial printers.

Currently PDF/X-3 is not as widely accepted by commercial printers because of options it supports.

PDF/X-1a files can be created using Acrobat Distiller 6, Acrobat Professional and IndesignCS.

Stay tuned for the next issue of TK's Korner. You just might be surprised!

Please refer back and visit often the entire library of TK's Korners where you will find information on subjects that may be of interest to you like:


Hope this helps and stay tuned for the next issue of TK's Korner. You never know what might be covered!

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email. I will do whatever it takes to ensure you get the best value for every marketing dollar invested.

You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:

Referrals are greatly appreciated, if you know someone I could help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!

Tom Kubinski, Printing Consultant

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: 612-278-1568
Cell: 612-760-3700

TK Out Standing in his Field

Selected portions reprinted in Print & Media Buyer, a national magazine for the print industry. (Search for Tom Kubinski)

Print & Media Buyer Magazine, Winter issue 2007

Below, please find a PODi case study of nationally recognized campaign plus 3 issues that have been published in a National magazine.

* PODi - Digital Print Success Story .pdf 2.9 mb
* Kubinski to Contribute to Print and Media Buyer Magazine .pdf 144 kb
* "Press Check/A Step by Step Process" SPRING 2008 .pdf 536 kb
* "File Prep" APRIL 2008 .pdf 704 kb
* "How to Plan Your Print Project/Nice Price" JULY 2008 .pdf 320 kb

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