I have produced a multi-page magazine (32-40 pages long). For years I have been publishing it at a local printing business near me. They prefer a high quality PDF file to produce the magazine. It has always printed well and looked nice. I now have the opportunity to produce a version of it in India. The printer there says they prefer a PSD file because they say it prints better... and will convert my PDF to a PSD to make this happen.

This makes little sense to me:

  • Is PSD better for publication printing than PDF?
  • Would converting the "inferior" file format to PSD "increase" print quality?
  • Maybe they convert the PDF to PSD to flatten it and avoid any transparency issues with the ripper.
    – ispaany
    Nov 30, 2017 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


"Converting" a PDF to a PSD means they will rasterize everything. No live type, no vector paths, everything will be raster (pixels).

Now, that in itself may not be an issue. However, I'd be wary. The printing process typically uses a RIP (Raster Image Processor) which rasterizes everything in order to make the plate for press. But Imagesetters work at much higher resolutions than merely converting a PDF to a PSD. Imagesetters typically covert at 2400DPI or higher. This ensures there's no quality loss in the platemaking/direct to press process. I would highly suspect this company will be doing a straight PDF to 300ppi conversion, actually reducing quality overall.

A couple things to be aware of....

  • PDF is NOT an "inferior" format. In fact it's a superior format exactly because PDF supports live type, vector data, etc. In fact, a print production team asking to convert PDFs to PSD has an inferior workflow. The only thing this "conversion" will do is possibly lower the quality if the piece. It will never increase quality in ANY respect.

  • No, this is not standard. 99.99% of the printers you will encounter want PDF fils or native application files and most often providing a Photoshop file would be undesirable.

Reading this is like watching a guy build you a table and only using a screwdriver to pound in nails.... sure it might work, but the quality of the build will never be as solid if he just went bought himself a hammer. The company has some piecemeal workflow to get things done and doesn't own actually printing equipment such as a imagesetter/platemaker, etc. Chances are they've got some sort of digital copier and by converting your PDF to PSD they can run copies easier or faster.

  • See, I am with you on that. I have been doing this for a few years and have never heard of this. When I was asked about it, I had the same response as you. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't thinking crazy.
    – Tom K.
    Dec 1, 2017 at 21:08
  • I've been in the industry over 30 years... it's a "shoddy" workflow at best.
    – Scott
    Dec 2, 2017 at 2:44

'It prints better' is a relative statement. It might mean PSD works better with the machines they are using.

Really hard to tell and indeed this 'makes little sense'. PSD could produce the same result in theory, but normally, assuming decent quality and relatively recent machines are used, such print jobs are sent to print as high resolution PDF.

  • Plus the need to do multi-page almost seems counter-intuitive in Photoshop. Thanks for your input!
    – Tom K.
    Dec 1, 2017 at 21:10

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