PDF (Portable Document Format) was developed early in the 1990s and has since become the standard in our industry for sharing documents and images. Basic tools are built in to your printer allowing you to modify and enhance a PDF file. PDFs are really handled only two ways in our industry: printing and scanning. Although programs like Adobe and Adobe LiveCycle are able to create incredibly complicated and interactive PDFs, we are going to stick to a few basic useful fixes.
PRINTING: For most of us, we receive documents (saved as PDFs) and print them for filing or service. Printing a PDF is very easy; however there are a few tricks that can increase the quality. In working with PDFs daily, I find three common issues; printing only selected pages, increasing the size of a PDF image so the court will not reject it, and clearing up blurry PDFs (image or text). When the print menu is up (see Picture A), there are several items that can be manipulated to fix issues:
“Pages to Print:”
This is a great way to select only which pages you want to print: either all pages, just the current page, or between a specified range, which is very helpful for larger PDFs or when only a few select pages are desired.
“Page Sizing & Handling:”
I use this most often for fixing undersized PDFs. Often after a document gets scanned several times, it becomes slightly smaller each time to where the court may reject it. There is an easy way to quickly adjust the size of an image and make it larger. By using the “Custom Scale” the PDF size can be increased to a size that will be acceptable. In most cases, enlarging between 105% – 110% will fix most shrinkage issues. Adjust as needed.
Often PDFs will be scanned in full color which will picks up all the subtle colors on a page and may cause blurry images or text when printed. If this occurs, try clicking the properties button to bring up your printer’s settings and select “grayscale” or “Print Black and White.” This setting is determined by your printer, and although we all have different printers, most all printers have some type of grayscale/B&W setting that can be turned on.
SCANNING: In order to get completed work, proofs, etc., back to our clients, we need to scan it. In the scanning world, the quality of the PDF image comes down to DPI or “Dots per Inch.” Sending back PDFs to clients that are scanned in at a terrible quality can reflect negatively on a business.
The higher the DPI, the better the quality of the PDF. For example, a PDF scanned in at 150 x 150 will have much less quality and detail than a PDF scanned in at 300 x 300. For most scanners the highest DPI is 600 x 600, which is excellent quality. The downside to always scanning at very high quality is that the higher the DPI the more space the PDF will take up on a hard drive and the slower it may transmit. For example, if you scan 50 pages at 600 x 600, then the PDF might take up so much space that it cannot be emailed; however, if you scan it at 300 x 300 it might be under the email attachment limit. Therefore, when scanning and adjusting your DPI, it is important to try and get the best quality for the size and application of the file. This adjustment is made directly on your scanner, or within the scanning software. Lastly, scanning in color is not really needed often; however there are a few things to consider when scanning in color. Scanning in color greatly increases the size of PDFs over black and white, and leaves the possibility that the party printing the PDF might get blurry text because text is then scanned as a picture. So by modifying the grayscale, you may enhance the clarity of the text when printing color scans.
Davis Best, United Process Servers, Inc.
Technology Committee Member