Making a PDF template

When I send concepts to clients I send them as 8.5 x 11 PDFs.

I have a set “template” - company logo, title, concept number, etc. It also has call outs and a jpg image that I either scanned in (sketch) or a 3D rendering.

I’ve been doing everything in Illustrator and saving as a PDF.

Problem? The file size is astronomical. I have tried everything in the Illustrator settings and even bringing it into Adobe Acrobat Professional and compressing it again to get a smaller file size. Its still huge!

Where should I make my PDFs so that they won’t be so big?

2 tips that should reduce the file size dramatically…

1 - Make sure to crop and scale images (JPEGs, TIFs, etc) in Photoshop to reduce their file size before placing in Illustrator

2 - When you save as a PDF from Illustrator there are a few different compression options you can choose from that effect the file size (and image quality) You can choose from High Quality, Press, Standard, Screen, etc, but you’ll have to decide what the best balance of quality/file size is for your purposes

That should do it…

why not just export them as jpegs from illi?

i like sending things in PDF over jpeg, as it ensures the text, logo and callouts will be crisp and pixely.

it sounds as though the jpeg in there is the problem. make sure before you place the jpeg into illustrator is it cropped and reduced in resolution enough. if its just for viewing on your computer and maybe a print out, you should be ok at 100 dpi. 120dpi max.

also be sure to check your PDF options in illustrator. check the compression.

another option which may get even smaller files and i personally prefer, is to get acrobat distiller. then you can print to a Postscrip file, run the file through distiller, and have more control of how big the file will be. as well, this method allows you to keep the PS file, and later if you want a higher quality , say press quality PDF, you can just run the same PS through distiller on a different setting (assuming that in this case the jpeg you placed in illustrator was higher rez too).

it sounds like a lot of steps and difficult, but i use this method and it has its advantages.

another, third option is to set up your logo, callouts, template in Indesign and place your jepg there. Indesign has more PDF export options for different file sizes and other options.


Couple of other ideas-

From Photoshop- use “save for web”. This creates a much, much smaller jpeg hardly noticeable for what your talking about doing. Then take it into Acrobat or back into Illi.

Hold the moans here… but you could try bringing your images into Powerpoint, and re-laying out your documents, then save out into pdf’s. Sometimes powerpoint can help dilute the images.

These have worked well for me when I needed “non-print quality”, but needed concept proofing. The main point here, is to get your image smaller before throwing it into acro.

good luck

not moans, screams! “no, whatever you do, stay away from the evil PP…ahhhhhh”…


Thanks for the tips!

I made sure my images were definitely small enough before loading them and tweaked some more stuff and got it to work!

Never used Distiller before… I tried running an EPS file through it and it cut off all the edges… guess I’ll be hanging out in the help section :slight_smile:

Thanks again :slight_smile:

lately I’ve just been taking screen caps… sometimes time is of the essence…

OY…I am a little surprised at what seems to be a lacking in understanding surrounding PDF on here. Not trying to be a dink…I am just surprised.

RK definitely has the right call here. Get to know PDF Distiller if you’re concerned about file size. You have some of the same controls straight out of Adobe Programs, but Distiller is the PDF engine.

I also agree with RK in that InDesign is the way to go for presentations. Adobe CS has raised the bar for interaction between programs (PShop to AI, etc.) and InDesign takes full advantage of that. It is Illustrator with multi-page capabilities. For being able to “design” your presentation and have it output exactly how you want, at high resolution…it kicks ass.

I have a document from a local printer that goes into pretty specific detail on the settings within Distiller to create press ready files but maintain as small a file size as possible. If I can dig it up, I will scan and post. Or, at the very least, scan and let you know I have it available so I can email it to anyone who is interested.

Note too that if you Print from AI, and select Adobe PDF as the output printer, this automatically uses Distiller to create a PDF with minimum file size – it goes through the steps of creating an EPS then optimizing to PDF, but automatically (try it both ways…the file sizes come out the same!) In almost every case, this method gives you a smaller file than any of the Save As PDF options from AI.

You can also squeeze the file size down a tiny bit more by opening the newly created PDF in Acrobat and selecting “Reduce File Size” from the File menu. This delays the rendering of some of the graphics, which is a touch irritating, but trims 5-10% more off the total size, which is sometimes worth it.

Thanks hitch!

That worked wonders!!!

I had the same problem when I started sending PDFs. I found that the key was the compression settings. Downsample images to 200 dpi from anything over 300 and compress with jpg format. I saved that in a new setting, so I only have to click the menu. When I do just a quick 2-3 page presentation or QC, it’s usually below 500 kb. Plus, I don’t have to play with distiller, which I still don’t understand. Poor me.

Use Indesign… much better PDF compression, no quality compromise.

Apologies if someone else has already said it.

Ditto. I neglected to mention this earlier…the “Save As” function doesn’t work nearly as well as “Print to PDF” (you can use this to create multiple page PDFs from a tiled Illustrator document as well) I understand that InDesign is made for that sort of thing, but if you’re working natively in Illustrator it can be quicker than moving things over to an InDesign file…

And I 2nd Yo’s screencap method…when it comes to quickly sending things back and forth you can’t beat it. The only limitation is the size. (But if you have a cranked screen res this isn’t much of as issue) It’s obviously the most versatile as well (images from Alias, PSD renders, Illustrator linework as a JPEG) And if you’re using a Mac, there’s a program called “Snap and drag” that allows you to highlight the area you want to screencapture so you don’t even need to use Photoshop to crop it.

the thing to remember when deciding on format (PDF/Jpeg/etc.) is also how each one works. PDF is best suited to vector graphics, as the files are small and the text/graphics is perfectly rendered and scaleable. PDFs actually compress pixel images with a JEPG compression, so a PDF of an image is essentially the same as a JEPG itself.

if you have text/graphics that you want to remain readable and print well, PDF is always best.

for just images, JPEG is fine.

for combos of images and text, PDF gives you the best of both worlds with clear type/graphics and compression for the images.

best app/solution to making the files somewhat depends on your workflow.


I’ve gone over to the dark side, and used the “save for Microsoft Office” command in the File menu in Illustrator, and opened up the image in PPT. Until I convince our IS dept to step into the 21st century and get us CS3, it works the best…and quickest…and smallest.

I can save a multi-page illustrator file as PDF. There is an option on the first menu that pops up. Just beware, if you want a full bleed, you need to adjust your margins.

I have a template file for general presentations and QC stuff in AI and ID. If I know I’m going to have 10 pages, I’ll try to go ID, as I can create a more consistent layout. If I just need a single page or 3-4 very different layouts, I might go AI as I work faster in it (I was a Quark guy in school).

At my previous job, I used a lot of jpgs for QC emails. Sometimes they were screen shots, sometimes they were photos with text added in AI. I knew that some of our suppliers in China didn’t have Acrobat…maybe didn’t have a computer, so jpg was a sure bet for WYSIWYG. I’d send a PDF for drawings and longer QC papers, especially when I knew our supplier would probably print them off in Taiwan and bring them to China.

My current employer told me to use only PDFs, so that’s what I do. Still, sometimes I would prefer a jpg as they can open faster than a PDF with many images, but I’ll do what the boss says.