Using the Portable Document Format (PDF) can eliminate a number of problems when sharing files. From fonts and formatting to images, tags, bookmarks and more, PDF ensures your document looks exactly as you intended when it is opened by the recipient. Depending on how your file was created, it could be a larger file size – unless you optimize your PDF. Optimization is also called linearization.
File size is much more than the number of pages. For example, a 10 page PDF file could be a 10 MB file if it has very high resolution graphics, many layers of content within the file or is a high resolution scanned color image. Have you downloaded a PDF file from a website and had to wait several minutes for the file to completely download before you could even see the first page of the document? Most PDF editing/creation software offer an option called “Fast Web View” or “Optimize” that allows PDF files to display the first few pages of the PDF file when the document is opened, instead of waiting for the full file to be available. Optimized files are also generally smaller in size than non-optimized files. For example its not unusual to reduce some files by more than half by simply selecting “Save As Optimized PDF”.
Is a Larger File Size a Big Problem?
Large files consume bandwidth. They take time to download and may take time to send when attached to an e-mail. IT managers have to deal with increased customer support calls because of slow mail servers and emails that weren’t received because overly large attachments got hung up in the gateway. Email storage needs can also grow.
It’s simply good form to optimize your PDFs and save everyone a lot of headaches.
Is It Difficult to Optimize a PDF?
Because PDFs are self-contained, they carry a lot of data in addition to text and images. Fonts account for a high percentage of data in many PDFs, but this can easily be reduced with several simple steps, including using only standard fonts, using fewer fonts and font styles, and avoiding the use of special characters.
How Do I Find Out If My PDF Is Already Optimized?
Using Adobe Acrobat, go to File and then to Properties. The Description tab will show you if it is set to Fast Web View.
How Do I Optimize a PDF?
“Standard” fonts in a PDF include Times, Helvetica, Courier, Symbol and ZapfDingbats. All PDF readers support these standard fonts. If you use a non-standard font, it will be embedded in the PDF file. If you use a non-standard font and choose not to embed it, Acrobat will display a substitute font when the document is opened.
Using fewer fonts is also wise; each font you add contributes a minimum of tens of kilobytes to your file. And keep in mind that fewer font styles make a smaller file because PDFs interpret Regular, Italic, Bold and Bold Italic as four different fonts and using all of them could require the PDF to embed that font four times.
Special characters should be avoided whenever possible to reduce file size. These characters vary by PDF editor.
As to images, vector-based images take less space and produces better quality output than bitmap images. If you must use bitmaps, reduce their size by using monochrome rather than color.
And if Microsoft Word is your text program, there are a few more steps you can take to optimize your PDF. Choose “minimum size” when saving, uncheck ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A), which forces font embedding, and uncheck the box for using bitmapped fonts.
Finally, when you “Save” a PDF file, incremental updates are appended to the file. This allows the document to be saved more quickly but contributes to the overall size of the file. Choosing “Save As” will completely rewrite the file and result in a smaller file size.
Adobe offers simple guidance on optimizing PDF files when using Acrobat X Professional:
- Open the PDF Optimizer dialog box (File > Save As > Optimized PDF).
- To use the default settings, choose Standard from the Settings menu, and then skip to step 6. If you change any settings in the PDF Optimizer dialog box, the Settings menu automatically switches to Custom.
- From the Make Compatible With menu, choose Retain Existing to keep the current PDF version, or choose an Acrobat version. (The options available in panels vary depending on this choice.)
- Select the check box next to a panel (for example, Images, Fonts, Transparency), and then select options in that panel. To prevent all of the options in a panel from executing during optimization, deselect the check box for that panel.
- (Optional) To save your customized settings, click the Save button and name the settings. (To delete a saved setting, choose it in the Settings menu and click Delete.)
- When you are finished selecting options, click OK.
- In the Save Optimized As dialog box, click Save to overwrite the original PDF with the optimized PDF, or select a new name or location. Note: To optimize several documents at the same time, use the Output options for the Actions Wizard.
There are many PDF utilities, even free tools, that can help you optimize or compress your files, although the amount of size reduction may vary.
Note: Optimization, also called linearization, is an included feature in all Appligent server-based applications.
By Shawna McAlearney