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We received a PDF from our client to forward it to the printing house (I hope that is the correct english term, I'm talking about offset print) and later we combine the printed result with our product.

The design of our client has some shadows around text. The printed version although doesn't have any show, just a black box around the text.

I know this must be an issue with PDF standards. But I'm wondering how I can check if it will work correctly in the final print.

The clients PDF is PDF/X-3:2002 PDF-Version 1.5

Our project management tool renders PDFs online and gives me similar results with the look of the PDF, so I did some testing:

This is how it should looks, and how every PDF looks in Acrobat Pro:

How it should look

This is how it looks in X4 2010 PDF Version 1.6, X3 2002 PDF Version 1.5 and X3 2002 PDF Version 1.4:

How it should not look

Only X3 2002 PDF Version 1.3 looks correct in our tool. I know I can't transfer this observation to print, but gives me an idea.

So my question is: How can I check if this will happen in print? Can I simulate that somehow in Acrobat? I didn't find any option for this in the preview options of acrobat. Also I can say that our project management tool where we upload the PDFs doesn't change the PDF, it just renders them wrong. So this tool isn't the problem.

Shouldn't the printing house note this and realize that the PDF standard is wrong?

When I get a PDF in the wrong standard from our clients, can I modify them in Acrobat to the correct standard? Or do I have to go back and forth with our client until he sends the correct version?

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  • Hi. Does the PDF look wrong in Adobe Acrobat? You mention a tool you are using, but is that something online? When viewing the PDF are you doing so in a browser? Sometimes PDFs don't display properly in the browser as they aren't using Adobe's PDF viewer, but the built in viewer in the browser.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:18
  • @BillyKerr In Acrobat everything looks fine, I can't spot anything wrong by eye. The tool is in the browser, and I know that browsers don't display PDFs correctly all the time. But the result I get in our tool looks pretty similar to the printed endresult. So I chose this for visualisation and comparison. I'm asking the printer what version they need/ want.
    – jona
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:20
  • I should imagine the printers will be using Adobe products - since they're the industry standard. What you see in your browser and what fails to print for you will likely not be an issue for them. I would send them the PDF you already have, and get them to send you a proof before printing. Getting proofs from a printer is also standard practice - you get to check it before it is printed.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:32
  • @BillyKerr Yes, that's how it should be. And it's a bit more complicated. We don't send it directly to them, there is a middle man between and I think they use a rather cheap production that doesn't offer a proof. Short things short: We sent them a PDF in X3 2002 Version 1.5 and the shadow was printed wrong. They didn't informed us about this. In Acrobat on our side it looks correct. I'm looking into preventing such errors in the future. But how can I spot that if in Acrobat everything is correct. Note, the preflight throws some errors for PDFX3 2002
    – jona
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:38
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    then I would say the issue is for your printer to resolve. The error is theirs. To be honest I doubt there is anything you could do at your end to ensure your printer doesn't make a mistake. That's why proofing before printing is really essential.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:46

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