I recently designed the layout on an album cover. Upon sending the files for print, they said that they have a problem "separating the template from the artwork" (the label provided a template to use for the layout) and thus requested a "layered PDF". I was wondering what is it? I already had sent them both a PSD file and a PDF file.

I did notice that in the save as window there is a checkbox for "Layered" upon choosing PDF, but it's checked by default, so all PDFs should be "layered" automatically by default? Assuming that's what they meant.

  • 1
    If unsure, it's often best to ask the person requesting the file exactly what they mean or want.
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 12:28
  • Hi Scott! I tried but the person I'm talking with is not familiar with graphic design, so I suppose he's just referring to what the printing people tell him.
    – Terpit
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


You both meant two separate things.

Layers in photoshop saving options means that the file is not flatten (pdf style, those layers are very different from your workfile stack). You can reopen it in Ps and it will have exactly the same layers as pds file.

What they mean is "Acrobat layers", option available in InDesign when exporting pdf file. It export pdf with layers and give the ability to turn their visibility on and off in Acrobat (also few other options).

What you could do (in Photoshop) is to move template to alpha channel, set it to spot color and then it could be turned off in preflight. And it still could get used as guide for whatever machine works it's need to be used.


First of all, you do not need to send to print something that does not need to be printed. The "template" could mean that you are sending guidelines or grids that you used but does not form part of the artwork, so do not send it in the pdf.

If you do need a mark it should be either in a crop mark or in a separated file (or page) with the respective crop marks to align them.

One option is that you send them the layered .AI file with the fonts converted to paths.

P.S. You should NOT use Photoshop to do your finished design. Use only to do the art, the image, and add the texts in Illustrator, or Corel, or Indesign.

  • Thank you! Yes, I am aware that Indesign should always be used for finished artwork but I am unfamiliar with the software and the label originally requested both PDF and PSD files, presumably because originally they themselves were supposed to make any adjustments to the projects if needed. So let me get this straight. Layered PDF is made only with Indesign and if I want to send that exact file to them I need to recreate the artwork on Indesign? I'd rather make a some sort of a workaround. For example, what if I make the template layer invisible on Ps before saving the PDF?
    – Terpit
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 20:47

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