While I've been sending PDFs to press for years, I've never sent an annual 48 page booklet to press as a PDF. I've always sent InDesign package.

I guess the thing that makes me most nervous is the creep factor. I always thought that pre-press could only deal with creep from an InDesign file but now I'm told they can deal with it, if even if I supply PDF.

It would make my life so much easier as I have 54 RGB images!

Additionally I'm concerned about the flattening of some transparent graphics and the bleed for the edges that fall into the saddle stitched center.

Can anyone tell me more about making press ready PDF booklets for press?

Do they need individual pages and crop and bleed marks?

  • 1
    why do you have RGB images in something which is going to press? Shouldn't they be CMYK? Apr 4, 2015 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


If the file is set up in reader spreads.... Export as PDF/X-1a file, single pages, with bleeds and marks.

If the file is set up in printer spreads.... talk to your printer. For books and manuals most print providers really want single pages so they can properly address creep and gutters. You need to verify that printer spreads will be okay.

Prepress departments have special software (Trapwize, Preps) which are used to format creep, spreads, bleeds, etc. This software works with PDFs. They honestly will handle it. It's their job and what they do.

All you need to be concerned about is your PDF/X-1a file contains all the proper content on the proper pages, in the proper order. And don't worry if you see slight hairlines in your PDF/X-1a file.

You should also be provided with a proof before anything hits press.

You really should feel better about sending a PDF as opposed to an InDesign package. PDFs are far more "solid" for production and less can go wrong with a PDF/X-1a file. I'm always a bit apprehensive when asked for an InDesign Package. An ID package means images can move, text can reflow, a font can be missed -- none of that can happen with a PDF/X file.

  • Thanks very much Scott. I created the file in InDesign spreads. When I made a test run PDF with single pages, I see I have a lot of bleeds to fix. Still it's better than manually changing all my RGBs to CMYK. Is this the way the printing industry is going? One of my printers insists on PDFs.
    – Katie
    Apr 3, 2015 at 21:42
  • I haven't sent anything but PDF/X files to print providers in at least 5 years. It's actually rare that I hear anyone request an InDesign package. Most commercial printers are using a PDF workflow these days specifically because it's much less prone to errors when compared to native files.
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2015 at 21:43
  • And if you see gutter images on both the left and right page bleeds in single pages, that how it should appear. You should see a little of the left part on the right page and a little of the right part on the left page. There is supposed to be a bit of an overlap. You might already know this, but it's worth pointing out just in case.
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2015 at 21:47
  • Well it's time I got with the flow! The rep that's done this job for the last 3 years probably should have told me. Thanks for the confidence. Exactly what I needed!
    – Katie
    Apr 3, 2015 at 21:49
  • I didn't see your comment about the gutters until now. Hmmm... I don't get that. I'm not doing printer spreads. So I wouldn't want like page 2 bleeding on to page 48, (in a 52 page booklet.)
    – Katie
    Apr 3, 2015 at 22:00

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