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 PDF Files

What is a PDF file?

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image. You can think of it as a snap-shot photo of the source file of your book (as created and laid out in InDesign). In addition, it can contain embedded fonts and interactive elements (buttons for forms entry and for triggering sound and video).
PDF files for printing can be created from programs such as InDesign, Photoshop, Word, Illustrator, etc.. Care must be taken to ensure that the proper PDF settings are in place (font embedding, compatibility, compression, image resolution, etc). Some printers will supply their own preset property settings.

Viewing a PDF

To view and use PDF files, you need the free Acrobat Reader, which you can easily download. Once you've downloaded the Reader, it will start automatically whenever you want to look at a PDF file.

Making Changes to a PDF file

Changes can be made to PDF files with Adobe Acrobat and several other PDF editors on the market, some free. Since a PDF file is like a snap-shot of the source document, and that Acrobat is not designed for formatting, changes are limited to minor text and image changes.  You may find that text reflowing does not work well, leaving excessive word spacing. Reflowing to the next page will not work, since all subsequent pages in the chapter would also have to reflow. Also, some embedded formatting styles can't be modified.

Changes to your Print-ready PDF should be made only if you are sure that the InDesign source document will no longer be needed or kept up-to-date, since changes made to your print-ready PDF are not automatically reflected in the InDesign source document.

If the InDesign source document is to be kept up-to-date for the production of new PDFs or future changes, then changes should take place in the InDesign source document. These changes are best accomplished through instructions given in a marked-up PDF using the Adobe commenting function. See also:

Changing/Updating book drafts

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