I have next to no knowledge about typesetting, just the usual office skills. Some weeks ago, our team wrote a scientific paper, and after it was accepted at a conference, I handled the submission of the camera ready version to the publishers. It didn't run smooth - although the automatic upload system accepted the file as guideline compatible, on 11.03. I was contacted with the information that it didn't adhere to guidelines. I submitted a new version, and only received an automatic acknowledgement.

Today, I was informed that there is "a lost line" below the copyright block of the paper. I looked into my file and saw that the last line of the copyright block had its bottom clipped. I repaired that and sent it to the publishers, telling them that I didn't find a "lost line", and repaired what I had found. They sent me the file they fetched from the upload system. I compared them, and found that both files looked very different. The text was higher on their file, there was indeed a line below the copyright block, and the title of the paper looked smudged.

I am absolutely sure that the file I am looking at is the one I uploaded. It is the only pdf I created of the paper in the week of 11.03. (I checked the Recycle Bin too). So either their .pdf viewer or the upload system must have changed the look of the file. Does anybody have any idea what can have happened, and, more important, how can I prevent it the next time?

The file was created with Microsoft Word 2007, converted to pdf with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro (using the Print -> Select printer -> Adobe PDF function). I used the standard options, only changed to embed the fonts used. In the following examples, the left-hand image is the one the publishers had, the right-hand image is the one I had uploaded. Both are pdf files (so the difference didn't happen during conversion from doc to pdf). Note that the text position is different too, the line which appears below the copyright block (which is on the bottom of the left column) in their version appears somewhere in the second paragraph in the right column in my version. It almost looks as if the font in their version is smaller. But the total length of both papers is the same, 8 full pages.

enter image description here Title smudged

  • Difficult to answer this one without access to the PDFs themselves, and thus being able to investigate the actual differences between the files.
    – e100
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 13:42
  • Also, the term 'camera-ready' (although it's a misnomer in a digital print workflow) implies an image ready to be transferred to plate; a PDF cannot be camera-ready as it needs to be interpreted and rasterized first.
    – e100
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 13:56
  • @e100 This is the term we are given by the conference organisers and the publishers. I can understand why they appropriated it even if it doesn't fit; it communicates clearly to authors that the paper now has to look really good.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 17:08
  • It's still an inappropriate anachronism though. Surely a lot of people aren't even aware that a camera ever had a place in prepress - why not call it "press-ready"?
    – e100
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:23

3 Answers 3


Have you tried using one of the X presets? There are some presets for pdfs that conform to ISO standards for pdfs. X-1a, X-3, X-4, etc. pdfs saved with those configurations will all meet certainly standards regarding fonts, shapes, colors, etc. X-1a, for example will create a PDF that is fully compatible with Adobe Acrobat 4 or later.

  • We couldn't find the exact problem, but I imagine this could have been the culprit.
    – rumtscho
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 16:31

The best way to handle this is to get the publishers to send you a printed proof, which you check, ask for changes to if necessary, and approve.

For this type of work, a black and white laser print at full size, with crop marks showing page extent should be sufficient.

Ultimately you are at the mercy of the exact configuration of each step of their PDF to plate workflow. There are several steps to this process, and as an example, errors in the PDF code, or corrupted/missing fonts, might be handled differently from your PDF viewer. Word does not necessarily produce 'clean' PDFs and it is possible the printers may have made some manual adjustments.

The only way to be sure is for them to run your PDF through their process, outputting to paper rather than to printing plate. At this point the artwork could be considered 'camera-ready'.

You can then ask for any amendments, or sign off the proof as is. Any differences which then show up in the final print are the responsibility of the printer to explain.


Have you tried creating the .pdf directly from Microsoft Word (Save as -> .pdf)? It looks like when you created the .pdf in Acrobat Pro it included the original margins as part of the document.

  • Sorry if I wasn't clear. To convert, I used "Print -> Adobe PDF" in Word (because "Save as" doesn't let me change the settings for embedding fonts). Both files you can see in the picture are PDF, one as I submitted, the other one as they received. I am accustomed that a pdf sometimes looks different than the doc. I edited the question to make it more clear.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 12:15
  • 1
    This article should let you embed the fonts without having to print as a .pdf: en.allexperts.com/q/Microsoft-Word-1058/2009/8/… Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 12:17

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