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Publishing Learning Center

Create PDF File

Book manuscripts converted to PDF, or "Portable Document Format," provide printed displays that duplicate the layout, typeface and artwork of your original book manuscript that might be lost when transferring word processing documents. This is important when preserving the original design of pages is an essential feature of your book.

Recommended software

Software to create PDF files can be expensive, but there are some no-cost software options available. Please note that we are not currently supporting PDF 1.6 files.

Adobe's trial of their PDF software provides five free conversions of original documents into PDF format:

"Create Adobe� PDF Online is a Web-hosted service that lets you convert a variety of documents into Adobe PDF files that anyone can view using the free Adobe� Reader�. Supported formats include Microsoft� Office files, graphics formats, Web pages, and other file types."

You have to register to upload documents and retrieve your PDF files, of course, but this service can be helpful if you don't need PDF conversion capability on a regular basis. If you do, however, Adobe also offers unlimited PDF conversions on a subscription basis for $9.99/month or $99.99/year, only good for 8.5" x 11" documents.

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Create custom sizes

As mentioned earlier, you must submit your book PDF in a format that exactly matches how you want your book printed. This means that for a 5x8 book, you must submit a PDF formatted for a 5x8 document. This can be tricky because PDF converters are by default set to 8.5" x 11" documents.

Here are the steps for changing the 8.5" x 11" default setting in Adobe Acrobat. You will first need to create a custom-size profile in Acrobat. To do this in Windows 2000 or XP (remember, not functional for Win 98 and older):

  • Click Start on your desktop and choose the Settings Option
  • Open your Control Panel
  • Select Printers
  • Highlight Adobe Acrobat (Acrobat Distiller) by clicking once
  • Click File then select Server Properties
  • Check the create new form box
  • Name your new form (for example, 5x8)
  • Enter your desired width and height dimensions
  • Enter your desired margins (you must do this even if you have already set the margins in your original document)
  • Click on Save Form
  • Click OK

You have now created a custom-size profile, and you will need to do this once for each custom size. Now that you have a custom size profile, you can convert your file into a PDF of that size.

The following example outlines the steps involved using a Microsoft Word document. In MS Word:

  • Select File from the header bar
  • Click on print
  • Select Adobe Acrobat (Acrobat Distiller) from the your list of printers
  • Click on properties
  • Click on Advanced
  • Select your desired page size (choose the name you created when making your profile)
  • Click OK
  • Click OK on the advanced properties window
  • Click OK on the print window
  • Name your file and save it in your desired location
  • Open your PDF and verify that it has the correct page size dimensions

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Embedding fonts

Embedding fonts ensures that CafePress.com can print your file using the original fonts you chose. Because embedded fonts increase file size, and keeping in mind the 100MB PDF size limitation, avoid using non-standard fonts. Also note that some fonts have license restrictions that may prevent embedding. �

1) Using Adobe's PDF as an example, first Distiller must be able to access fonts at the time it distills the file. Choose Settings > Font Locations to see where Distiller looks for fonts; add any other folders that contain the fonts you're using. �

2) In Distiller, choose Settings > Job Options. Click the Fonts tab. Select Embed All Fonts to embed all the fonts used in the document.

3) If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, you can convert your files to PDF format by "printing" them using the Acrobat virtual printer:

  • Click on the "File" menu, then "Print..." and then select "Acrobat Distiller" from the list of printers.
  • Next click on the "Properties" button as shown in the image below.
  • When the printer properties dialog box pops up, click the "Advanced" button on the lower right.
  • In the "Advanced Document Settings" dialog box, look for the option called "True Type Font."
  • Set the value of this option to "Download as Soft font."

4) Preview the fonts in your PDF document by opening the PDF document in Acrobat. Go to File > Document Properties to see embedded fonts. If embedded fonts don't appear as expected, make sure that the fonts are properly installed and undamaged. �

If fonts aren't embedded in a PDF file, your book PDF cannot be uploaded successfully. �

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PDF checklist

  1. Is your PDF page the correct size for your trim size? (View "Image sizes, bleed & safety zones" guidelines for correct page size.)
  2. Is your PDF unencrypted, unlocked, without any security?
  3. Does your text fit the book trim size you selected?
  4. Did you embed all fonts?
  5. Did you insert all images?
  6. Are all images in the text PDF grayscale and 150-300 dpi?
If you answered yes to all checklist points, upload your file to your store�s Document Basket. Remember, we are not currently supporting PDF 1.6 files.

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PDF Help

Creating a successful PDF file can be difficult at times. This is why CafePress.com is trying out a new BETA feature. For a limited time, we will help resolve problems with your PDF files for FREE!

During the process of troubleshooting PDF files to get them ready for publication and sale, we will gain a better understanding of the difficulties our customers are experiencing. Depending upon the level of demand, we may launch PDFHelp as a full CafePress.com service for a nominal fee.

When you email PDF files to pdfhelp@cafepress.com, please include the information specified below. Make sure your fonts are embedded and remember that if you change the page size from its current setting, this could cause formatting changes within your document.

  • Your name
  • Store ID
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Program used to create document
  • Page size (i.e.: 5x8, 8.5x11)
  • If you've tried to upload the PDF file but were unable to proceed, please include any error messages you received.
  • If you have not gotten to the upload step, please explain what problems you experienced with converting your file.
Once your file has been reviewed and converted, it will be sent back to you for uploading. Because it may take 3-5 business days to process PDF files, your patience is appreciated!

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