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How to create a PDF with X-3 options
How to create a PDF with X-3 options

PDF files created in the PDF/X-3 standard are far more likely to be able to be opened in their intended form on the majority of devices.

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Written by Roy Marshall
Updated this week

Ever since Adobe introduced PDFs to the world, they have made their way into every industry as the default way to move documents around, from device to device, and platform to platform in a predictable way. It’s not called Portable Document Format for nothing!

PDF files can be created from many different applications, and one version of a PDF file can differ from the next – including the quality of graphics, the way fonts are handled, and a lot more.

The industry has given us a few standards that can be used to make these PDF files as compatible, and predictable, as possible. One of these standards is the PDF/X-3 standard.

If a PDF file is created with the PDF/X-3 standard, it is far more likely to be able to be opened in its intended form on the majority of devices. This standard ensures that fonts are correctly included in the PDF document, and transparency effects are rendered in a way that can be reproduced correctly without losing any quality along the way.

If you are using one of Adobe’s desktop applications such as InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, these presets are built-in, so making a PDF/X-3 PDF file is easy.

To create a PDF with X-3 options

Adobe InDesign

In the File menu, go to Adobe PDF Presets and select [PDF/X-3:2002].

Adobe InDesign PDF Preset for PDF X/3

Adobe Illustrator

In the File menu, go to Save As.

Note: If it’s your first time saving a file from Illustrator, you will be asked to either save to cloud documents, or save on your computer. Select save on your computer.

Then set the Format to Adobe PDF (pdf) and click save.

Format set to Adobe PDF (pdf)

In the Save Adobe PDF popup screen, set the Adobe PDF Preset to [PDF/X-3:2002].

Sane Adobe PDF pop up screen showing the Adobe PDF Preset set to [PDF/X-3:2002]

Tip: If you are using the free PageProof plugin for Adobe Creative Cloud, when you create a proof using the add-on this Adobe preset standard is already used so you do not need to make any changes.

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