‘Digital’ and ‘print ready’ PDFs.

Why has the designer supplied these to you and what is the main difference?

You have had your brochure designed and then the designer supplies you with ‘digital’ and ‘print ready’ PDFs; using the correct file for the correct application is key.

When creating anything for print, let’s say an event brochurecorporate magazine or annual report, the designer must use (along with their creativity) a piece of software to put together the electronic version of the physical brochure.

This is normally done in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, which are professional desktop publishing (DTP) software applications. Once complete, a PDF is created from this artwork and is passed onto the printer who uses it to print the physical brochure.

In this process, the designer has various options and settings to which they can define when creating the PDF artwork. These mainly fall into a ‘digital’ version (sometimes called web or low-res version) and a ‘print ready’ version (can be called a hi-res PDF or press-ready artwork).

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Digital PDFs.

This is a PDF generated with the aim of being used on screen and digital devices, such as websites and social media. These PDFs can be attached to emails due to their smaller file size.

They have a lower image quality setting – hence the smaller file sizes – and are not intended to be used for commercial printing purposes.

Extra functions.

Digital PDFs can also have extra functions added to enable more interactivity, such as links and internal navigation, basic animation, buttons, roll-overs and movie clips. More information about digital brochures can be found here.

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Print ready PDFs.

These are PDFs that are created for the purpose of printing. The PDF itself is the artwork the printer uses and normally are configured as single pages with crop marks and bleed.

The image quality needs to be higher for print so these files tend to be large and are normally sent via a file transfer service such as Wetransfer or Mailbigfile.

Check the PDF is ‘print ready’ before sending to your printer.

During the design process, the designer will probably supply digital PDFs for you to proof and comment on. Once the project has been signed off the designer will then create a print-ready PDF version for you to send, if you are liaising with the printer.

Always check the latest PDF sent to you by the designer is a print-ready PDF before sending it to the printer.

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In summary.

Digital PDFs.

Used for screen applications, small file size, lower quality, extra functionality can be added.

Print ready PDFs.

Used as artwork for printers, large file size, high quality, contains crop-marks and bleed.

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