Creating PDF Files for Spot Color Jobs

If you are creating a job that includes spot colors you will need to alter the way you make your PDF file to make sure everything comes across correctly.

First you must make sure the spot colors you want to use are marked as spot colors in the colors palette not process.

ColorInDesign. In InDesign select the High Resolution PDF setting and you will want to make sure that under the Output Tab in the Export Adobe PDF settings dialog window, you have the Color Conversion set to No Color Conversion. You can then make sure your spot colors are included, by clicking on the Ink Manager button, this will show you the colors that are being included in your PDF. You can ignore the cyan, magenta, yellow and black. They are always shown and if you haven’t used them, they won’t be in your final files.

ColorQuark. In Quark under the Export Layout as PDF, you will select the type of PDF (High Resolution) you want to make and then click on the Options button. Set all of your settings normally, then go under the Color menu and using the Mode drop-down menu select Composite. You will now see your PMS or Spot colors show up in the list of colors. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black will always be there by default and that is fine.

By making these selections, you will include your spot colors for us in the PDF and we will be able to output your file correctly.

If you have any questions regarding spot colors and PDFs, please contact your salesperson for more information.

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6 Responses to Creating PDF Files for Spot Color Jobs

  1. Pingback: Please don’t build your files in printer spreads « Connecting the Dots

  2. Marvin Slatkin says:

    Quark Xpress 2016 has been generating 4-color process duotones when they should be black & pms214U. The rest of the document separated correctly. The problem is with photos Photoshop duotone) files. I used the PDF/X-4 standard.
    Indesign CS6 works. But Adobe is not supporting the latest Mac OS for anything but cloud subscriptions.

    • Marvin,
      I ran some tests using QuarkXpress 2015 and the same problem exists. I tried every trick I could think of to make it work. It appears to acknowledge the PMS color, but won’t bring it through to the PDF, it converts the colors to CMYK. I didn’t see anything mentioned in the forums.

      If you are going to print and are not printing digitally, then you might be able to get your printer to go “old school” and map the color when they do the trapping and separations. You would of course have to switch the colors in the Photoshop Document to something like Cyan and Magenta. If you can, talk to your printer to see what they can do for you.

      Sorry, wish I had a better answer.

      • Marvin Slatkin says:

        Yes, that seems to be the answer. XPress does not support spot color duotones, tritones or anything but process colors. About 30 years ago if you wanted to see a proof of a spot color job, you had to view a process color substitute. Quark does not allow you to preview a job (overprinting, etc) without interrupting your work and generating a PDF. I could put up with this to avoid the subscription model and support competition for Adobe. But I do need duotones, so back to Indesign CS6. It still works, and Suitcase now auto-opens type again. Actually, CS6 seems to be functioning better, lately. I would not be surprised if Adobe has quietly started to support the latest Mac OS… at least a little.

  3. Suzanne says:

    In Quark 2016, I would like to make a PDF using only spot colors. When I select “Press – Hi Quality/High Resolution, and then click on “Color” in the sidebar, do I want to select “Composite CMYK and Spot”, or “As Is”?

    • Suzanne,
      If your document colors are all Spot, then you can use either “Composite CMYK and Spot” or “As Is”. But look at the colors included. If all you see are CMYK and no spot, then switch. But as long as your spot colors are listed in the color listing (not in your color palette) but in the PDF dialog, then you are okay.

      If you have AcrobatDC you can use the Print Production Tool > Output Preview to double check your colors.

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