It’s important to use the correct settings to create a PDF file when it’s intended for commercial printing. It’s also critical to select the best PDF viewer application in which to look at your PDF. There are many choices of PDF readers, and not all of them are created equally. Many of them may work for everyday use but cannot display attributes that are important for printing.

Shown below is an example. When a customer creates a document for print, they turn on the overprinting attribute on some type. They switch the color of the type to white and when they create a PDF file, it looks like this:

But when the printer looks at the file in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, which are designed to accurately preview PDF files for print, they see the way the file will really print:

When the VIGC, the Flemish Innovation Center for Graphic Communication, tested PDF readers like Apple Preview or Foxit Reader, they found that they couldn’t display critical features like transparency, overprinting, color accuracy or interactive PDF elements.­­

The most reliable PDF readers are Adobe Reader (free from the Adobe website) and Adobe Acrobat, and they are what you should use to preview your PDF files.