I am using Illustrator to prepare some scientific figures. The figure has a number of "placed" (File -> Place...) panels. When I "embed" some of these panels, then export the figure to PDF, the colours of the embedded and non-embedded panels will appear different in all PDF readers. The magnitude of the difference is not the same in Mac Preview and Acrobat though. And within Illustrator the colours are the same.

Why does this happen and how can I avoid this apparent colour change?

I do not need accurate colour but I do need consistency.

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  • I'll upload documents if necessary.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


I'd guess that your Illustrator document's colour mode is CMYK, and the files you are placing are RGB (e.g. jpg or png). I've not experimented, but perhaps Illustrator converts the embedded file's colours to CMYK, but leaves the linked files untouched when writing out to PDF?

The colour mode can be changed using File -> Document Color Mode.

  • Yes, thanks, just figured it out. It's also important to set the colour mode to RGB before embedding the panel. I'm placing PDFs, not PNGs, but they are indeed generated in RGB.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 15:28

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