[Tex/LaTex] Producing printable pdfs


I've finished writing my thesis, and it is now at our University print service. However, I got a call from the today, saying that they can't print my thesis, because of some errors (don't know which ones, they couldn't specify). I can print it on our lab's printer (HP Color LaserJet 4700dn).

So, my question is: what is the right workflow in order to produce printable PDFs?

My setup is:

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8, running latest MacTeX-2011
  • pdflatex to produce the final PDF
    • packages: microtype, graphicx, xcolor, biblatex, fourier
  • OmniGraffle 5 to draw figures
    • save as EPS
    • eps2pdf to convert them to PDF
  • ggplot2 to produce graphs and other figures built on some external data

    • R version 2.13.1
    • this snippet produces PDF:

      embedFonts(image.name,options="-dEmbedAllFonts=true -dPDFSETTINGS=/printer")
    • some graphs contains throusands of points and transparent layers

If I use pdf2ps to produce a PS file, converting the PS file back to PDF through Acrobat Distiller's "Press Quality" preset gives me the following, useless, error:

%%[ Error: ioerror; OffendingCommand: imageDistiller ]%%


%%[ Flushing: rest of job (to end-of-file) will be ignored ]%%
%%[ Warning: PostScript error. No PDF file produced. ] %%

My second question would be: How to debug these issues? How to find where the problem in the workflow may be?

Best Answer

I would recommend against a conversion of pdf to ps and back. That will not help you with printing problems.

After fixing all errors and warnings from your pdflatex session it might be helpful to import your file into Adobe Acrobat. A PDF can contain all kinds of formats, fonts, color spaces and other special stuff that your university has trouble dealing with. You can make sure that everything is correct on your side if you give them a clean PDF file according to the ISO standard PDF/X-1a or later.

There is also a package on CTAN to support ISO conforming output from pdflatex: pdfx on CTAN directly without going through Adobe Acrobat.

What might also cause troubles from generated graphics are plots with a very high number of objects. If you plot thousands of individual data points in a single figure the pdf file will contain all of them even if it looks like more or less like a line to you. These figures can give you troubles on printers with not enough memory/processing power.

If that all does not help I would fall back on the standard TeX way of debugging: start with a working minimal example and work your way up from there even if that implies some back and forth communication with the people printing your thesis.

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