I know that I should create outlines on all the text I'm using before printing to ensure that any unique typefaces get printed correctly, and I see that there are options to also expand gradient appearances.

Should I be expanding these before printing?

What advantages would this have if any?

3 Answers 3


Actually, you should avoid expanding appearance, converting fonts to curves, flattening transparency, etc, unless your printer (the people not a device) specifically asks you to.

Those kind of things are hold overs from many years ago. A lot of print shops are still stuck in those days, but the reality is times have changed.

Having said that, we used to ask for expanded gradients, etc because it standardized the files we would receive. We knew what to expect, and what our RIP software could and could not handle. These techniques eliminated a lot of the variables that could show up in production.

On the other hand, we got files that could not easily me modified (for instance, try altering a flattened Illustrator file) and other issues.

  • 1
    To add to TunaMaxx's answer I would suggest asking your printer if they have a template already created for you to use. This case scenario is a prime example of "always ask your printer" because they will set what they, prepress options, what they do not mind editing and if they are just going to pre-flight your file and not even check it. I would suggest converting fonts to curves if you are requested to send .eps files. If you are requested to send .pdf files then make sure before sending that your fonts are embedded.
    – user9447
    Dec 11, 2013 at 15:16

In general, no.

I wanted to point out that it is better to supply a PDF (PDFX/1-a) for print production than an actual Illustrator file. PDFs are more than capable of embedding fonts (if the license permits) and maintaining all the appearance aspects of any Illustrator file, then outputting that correctly. PDFX/1-a is a press standard that has been around for more than a decade and is pretty much fool-proof if provided.

If you expand gradients within Illustrator you end up with one of two things.... A) a clipping mask which masks a raster image, or B) a gradient mesh which mimics the original gradient as closely as possible. [A] is bound by traditional raster limitations and can easily result in a poor appearance if the file is not handled correctly. [B] is not always accurate. The automated conversion from a gradient to a gradient mesh can, at time, result in a different gradient. And you end up with a mesh which can be more complex than a standard linear or radial gradient.

By leaving gradients in tact within an Illustrator file you provide the versatility of ensuring the gradient is output at the optimum resolution of the output device (the same as all vector data).


No, you don't have to do that.

Expanding gradient is just a tool if you want to create modified graphic. Because basically, expanding gradient would make the gradient into shapes

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