Musings on Photography


Posted in Print On Demand, Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on July 14, 2009


So, it turns out that there’s PDF, and then there’s PDF, and to do the blurb PDF->blurb book thing, you need to take your book and crank out not just any old PDF, but specifically a PDF/X-3. (side note: if someone told me that a PDF/X-3 was in fact an experimental aircraft, I would believe them).

Now, InDesign will happily crank out PDF/X-3 format. Or at least, when I go to the ‘export’ panel on my mac, that’s one of the options I can pick. Of course, if you’re going to use InDesign, you have to pay the Adobe tax, both the fiscal one and the sort that raises your blood pressure every time you’re forced to contact Adobe Support. Anyone know anything about third party PDF software for Mac and Windows? Could you get by with just Adobe Acrobat and your handy-dandy word processor?

Far and away, most of the email I got about SoFoBoMo this year had to do with PDF’s. PDF’s that were too large. Trouble cranking out PDF’s. PDF’s from Windows. PDF’s from Macs.

What the world needs is a good summary of the options for cranking out PDF files for all platforms, but especially Mac and Windows, and especially ESPECIALLY Windows.

Any volunteers to lead such an effort?

8 Responses

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  1. Martin Doonan said, on July 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I’ll volunteer: already in the process of putting together something. Noticed the need a few weeks ago and got right on it. I’m Windows based so will need some help with Mac. I figure it’ll be a good resource for the SoFoBoMo website.

  2. Brian Small said, on July 14, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Scribus works well for me.

    The Scribus web site:

    The doc page regarding pdf/x3:

  3. Martin Doonan said, on July 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Brian, it works well for me, too. What i think people want/need however is much more along the lines of specific instructions for each bit of software, which is what I’m putting together.

  4. CJ said, on July 15, 2009 at 2:14 am

    The black art of PDF

    A small contribution (on a Mac). I’ll go on writing about my experience as this project progresses.

  5. Rosie Perera said, on July 15, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I have discovered that Word 2007 (and Excel 2007) can Save As PDF directly without a separate Adobe plug-in installed, which I used to have to do in Word 2003. I used Word 2007 for creating my SoFoBoMo book this year, and it seemed to work fine. I doubt it generated PDF/X-3, though. I’m not sure how to tell.

  6. Eric Jeschke said, on July 15, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I think Blurb’s requirement of the PDF/X-3 is pretty minimal. They basically need a PDF 1.3 with images having an ICC profile embedded. I’m pretty sure that they will even assume sRGB if the images don’t contain a profile.

    You can read my experience of using both Scribus and LaTeX to produce a PDF/X-3 from by SoFoBoMo 2009 book here:

    Part 4 of the saga is coming is coming soon.

  7. Dave Kosiur said, on July 15, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I found some useful Mac info at and Managed to create a filter file for the Mac (on leopard) that now produces 300-dpi PDf/X files (tried it in Pages only at the moment).

  8. Martin Doonan said, on July 15, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I’ve now written a post explaining the basics of PDF types, from reading the ISO standards directly.

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