Correcting Common Print Errors

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Most Common Print Errors


PDF/X Compliance

If a book is not PDF/X-1a:2001 compliant, the automated system will try to preflight it to be compliant. If it is successful, the files will print. If it is unsuccessful, either the files will be found to not meet specs and an email will be generated to notify the printer or it may try to print the file which will result in many print errors including white boxes around art and text. Be sure books are compliant BEFORE you upload them. Use the PDF/X-1a:2001 setting to export your PDF.

PDF/X Compliance 1              PDF/X Compliance 1

If that option is not available, it can be converted using Acrobat.

Open the file in Acrobat: 
1) Open the Tools menu; 
2) Under Print Production open the Preflight window; 
3) Click on Standards, set it to PDF/X and click through to the last window; 
4) Make sure the settings are in place, then click Save as and give it a new name.


Black-and-White books do not need any bleed (although we suggest it), but all color books need a .125" bleed on the outside three page edges only. If you created your book using any version of InDesign, be sure when you set your file to export using the PDF/X-1a:2001 setting to be sure the "Allow Document Bleed" box is checked.


Color books must have a gutter allowance (white space) of .125" on the inside edge of every page, top to bottom. This area is glued into the spine, so it is not the live area of the page, and nothing should be lost. The gutter allowance ensures that the spine glue holds as tight as it should. If there is no gutter allowance in a color book, it will not be printed. If you are working in InDesign, adding a gutter allowance is not difficult. On your master page, simply add a new layer (be sure it's on top) and make a white box .125" wide that runs top of bleed to bottom. If your pages are set to use the master, the white line will appear on all pages and will look similar to this:


Ink Coverage

Color books cannot have ink coverage that exceeds 240%. When selecting colors in layout, set blacks to: Cyan 0%, Magenta 0%, Yellow 0% and Black 100%. If you want a richer black you can set values to: Cyan 60%, Magenta 40%, Yellow 40% and Black 100%. The rich black may look better, but if it is layered with other elements it may push the combination to be over ink.

If you are working in any version of Adobe CS, ink coverage can be viewed and corrected in a few steps

  • Check Ink Coverage in InDesign layout: Click on the Window pull-down menu (1) at the top, mouse over Output and select Separations Preview. In the window that opens, there is a little pull-down menu next to where it says View, select Ink Limit (2) and set the percent to 241% (3). It will show you all the things that are over ink coverage in red.

Ink Coverage InDesign

  • Correct Ink Coverage in Photoshop: Open the art file in Photoshop. In the Edit pull-down (1) menu select Convert to Profile (2). In the menu that opens, under Destination Space - Profile select Custom CMYK (3). Make sure the Ink Colors is set to SWOP (Coated) (4) and change the total ink limit to 235% (5). Leave all other settings as they are. Save as .tif or .psd and when you have them all done you can relink them to the InDesign file or replace them in the Illustrator file.

Ink Coverage Photoshop

  • Check if your final PDF is over Ink in Acrobat: Open the PDF in Acrobat. Click on Tools (1) to open the menu, then under Print Production, click Output Preview (2) to open that menu. In Acrobat 9 and earlier this menu can be found in the pull-down menu, select Advanced > Print Production > Output Preview. In the window that opens tick the box next to Total Area Coverage and set it to 241% (3). Anything that is over ink will be bright neon green.

Ink Coverage Acrobat

  • Last resort Ink Coverage fix in Acrobat: Open your final PDF/X file. Open the Print Production menu (see above; in Acrobat 9 and earlier, it\'s under the Advanced menu at the top), choose Convert Colors. In the window that opens, find the shaded section called Conversion Attributes. Change the center pull-down menu to Japan Color 2002 Newspaper. Under the shaded Convert Options area, check all three boxes (Preserve BlackPromote Gray to CMYK BlackPreserve CMYK Primaries). Click OK. You\'ll get a warning. Click OK. When the file\'s done processing, choose Save As and give it a different name (so as not to save over the original file, in case there\'s a problem). There can be a large color shift when this process is used, that\'s why it is referred as a last resort. Please check to make sure it is now within Ink Coverage range and that the color value is acceptable before uploading to print.
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