Top 5 tweaks you must do to your PDF documents before publishing them

Between the time it takes to create a PDF file and publish it, you may end up earning yourself a bad name. One that lives on forever—in the form of a lame PDF document! While a bit more goes into creating a lean and mean PDF files, by following this blog post you can save yourselves some embarrassing content authoring, document production, and SEO mistakes.

Create a PDF document using PDFMaker

Many applications are supported by PDFMaker. Use the plugin to create a PDF document from a source file. As opposed to say, printing the source document to the PDF print driver or taking a screenshot and creating a PDF from clipboard.

Using PDFMaker ensures that the metadata, the quality settings, and the privacy settings, as set by the document author, are respected and incorporated into the output. Some functionality is only available via this route, like creation of PDF bookmarks.

Acrobat ribbon in MS Word

Acrobat ribbon in MS Word

Set the various options in document properties dialog

Once you PDF document is created, press Ctrl+D (alternatively, click File > Properties) to access the Document Properties dialog.

In the Description tab, mention the Title, Author, Subject, and Keywords. Many of these values are best set as the metadata in the source file. This helps ensure the PDF document contains these options every time a new PDF is generated.

Using the settings in the Initial View tab, you may want to display the document title, instead of the PDF file name, in the title bar of the PDF. You may want to also display the bookmarks or other available options when the PDF opens. From the Initial View tab, you can control the magnification, first page to open, placement on the screen, etc. when the PDF is opened. You can also hide one or more of the menu bar, the tool bar, and the windows controls.

Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties

Initial view in Acrobat Document Properties

Less common options you can set are add more meta information in the Custom tab and set printing mode (DuplexMode field) to ‘Duplex Flip Long Edge’ to save paper when your document is printed.

In the Fonts tab, ensure the uncommon fonts used in the document are embedded. Avoid print and display errors during PDF consumption in different environments. than the one it was created in. Do check the end user license agreement of the font for any possible restrictions on embedding them in a PDF.

Detailed official help is here.

Get your bookmarks in order

First, get bookmarks. Use the optimum styles in your source document and use the settings in the Acrobat plugin to generate PDF bookmarks.

Do not stop at this, else you may end up shipping a PDF document with bookmarks out of order. Decide whether you want only the Level 1 bookmarks to be expanded or even Level 2 (or Level 3) bookmarks expanded. The software supported by PDFMaker, contain some settings to create bookmarks.

Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker

Create PDF bookmarks in Adobe FrameMaker

Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word

Create PDF bookmarks in MS Word

Check my previous blog post, to collapse the PDF bookmarks and retain that state in the PDF.

Accessibility

Accessibility options in Acrobat

Accessibility options in Acrobat tools pane

Accessibility Checker in Acrobat

Accessibility Checker report in Acrobat

Run the accessibility check on your PDF and check for, at least, the obvious things that you can fix. For example, mention the alt text of the images, create a tagged PDF, OCR the scanned content, and so on.
You can quickly do an accessibility audit of your PDF document using the Full Check option from the above screenshot. Accessibility Checker runs a customizable check for up to 32 parameters.

Optimize the PDF for the required use case

You may want to optimize your PDF depending on the use case and target audience. Some common optimizations are to reduce the file size to conserve bandwidth, to flatten the form fields, to remove common fonts to reduce file size, to add uncommon fonts for a smooth experience, enable Fast Web View for byte-serving of large documents, and so on.

Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF

Acrobat option to save as an Optimized PDF

Learn all about optimizing PDF files here and in the video below.