Acrobat 6 Discoveries

January 14, 2004 - 3:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

In preparation for my Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) exam for Acrobat 6 at the end of December, I spent far more time in that application than I normally do, trying out every button and panel, investigating all the nooks and crannies. Not surprisingly, I discovered some interesting functions in Acrobat 6 that I find enormously useful, and perhaps you may as well. (And yes, I passed the test.)

First, if you have Acrobat 6 (Standard or Pro), make sure you download Adobe's patch, bringing it to 6.01:

Macintosh: <http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/product.jsp?product=1&platform=Macintosh>
Windows: <http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/product.jsp?product=1&platform=Windows>

If you don't have Acrobat, you can download a free tryout of Acrobat 6 Professional (Windows only) here:
<http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro/tryout.html>

For the remainder of this section, when I say "Acrobat," I mean the Professional version, not the Standard version.

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Adding text
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I always knew you could edit text in a PDF, right in Acrobat, via the Touch Up Text tool. But I didn't know that you could *add* text to an area of a PDF where none exists. To do that, Option/Alt-click with the Touch Up Text tool, wait for the dialog that asks which font and what size you'd like to use, then start typing.

As in previous versions, Acrobat has a quite well-hidden Text Palette for more control over text formatting. In this version it's hidden in the Contextual pop-up menu, which you open by right-clicking (with a 2-button mouse on either platform) or Control-clicking (Mac users with a one-button mouse) while your Touch Up Text tool is active in a text block.

Choose "Properties" from the Contextual menu and go to the Text panel. Here you can change the typeface, size, character and word spacing, fill and stroke color, and even choose whether or not you want to Embed and/or Subset the font you select.

Your ability to add text to a PDF is limited by any security added to the PDF in question, but that's always been the case.

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Separations Preview and RGB
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Like InDesignCS, Acrobat 6 has a Separations Preview palette that lets you preview all the color-separated plates in your document. It's a handy way to catch errant spot color plates, or items falling on the wrong separation, before sending the file (the PDF or the layout file it was exported from) off to your printer.

Keep in mind, though, that neither Acrobat 6 nor InDesignCS will alert you to errant RGB images in your CMYK or spot-color publication with the Separation Preview palette. All that the palette is showing you is a preview of how RGB elements will *convert* to CMYK upon output.

Is that a feature or a bug? I'll leave it up to you.

In either application, the only way to tell if there are any RGB elements in your file is to run a Preflight on it. Luckily, both applications have that capability built-in. While Acrobat's Preflight function is far more powerful and customizable, InDesignCS's will do the job too, as far as RGB alerts are concerned.

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Reducing File Size
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Acrobat 6 has two different ways to make a PDF smaller in file size: The Reduce File Size command under the File menu, and the PDF Optimizer under the Advanced menu. For the most control over *what* Acrobat does to your file, exactly, when it reduces file size, use PDF Optimizer.

When you choose Reduce File Size, the only settings you can specify is the level of compatibility (Reader 4, 5, or 6) of the resulting PDF. You have no control over what happens to the fonts, if the images are downsampled (fewer, larger pixels) or not, and to what degree.

Everything you can do in Reduce File Size, you can also do in PDF Optimizer, but with much greater information and control.

You can start out by seeing what exactly is contributing to the size of the file via the Optimizer's "Audit Usage" function. For example, sometimes it's not the images, but the overhead in the file from the originating application (e.g., from PDFs created with Photoshop or Illustrator's "Save As PDF" format) that is the major contributor to a bloated PDF. Audit Usage will tell you that, and the Clean Up tab in the Optimizer will let you eliminate it.

Like Reduce File Size, the PDF Optimizer lets you specify the level of Reader compatibility for the optimized PDF. But Optimizer also has Distiller-like controls over image and font compression. You can set exactly what ppi resolution you'd like the images downsampled to (or turn off downsampling altogether), what method it should use for compressing the images (or turn off compression altogether), and if it should unembed fonts that are embedded, even allowing you to choose which fonts get the boot.

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