Print preparation

For our example we will use the PDF/X-3 format (as the original case involved sending the book to Blurb which use PDF/X-3).

Part 1: Print proofing

For the cover, go through the list (see Part 1: Print proofing). Activate the preflight verifier in Scribus (Windows > Preflight verifier) and selected the profile PDF/X-3. If any problems are reported, correct them.

Go through the same process for the pages.

Part 2: PDF creation

The following settings are used both for the cover and for the pages (File > Export > Save As PDF):

  • Output one file for each page: unchecked.
  • General tab: All pages, Compatibility: PDF/X-3, Compress text and vector graphics: checked.
  • Fonts tab: Fonts to embed: click Embed all.
  • Extras tab: Enable presentation effects: unchecked.
  • Viewer tab: Document Layout: Single Page, Visual Appearence: Use Viewers Default.
  • Security tab: Use Encryption: unchecked.
  • Color tab: Output intended for: Printer, is already checked (and grayed out), Convert Spot Colors to Process Colors: checked.
  • Pre-Press tab: Printer Marks: all unchecked, Bleed: Use Document Bleed: Checked. Output profile: Blurb_ICC_Profile.icc. Info string: name of Scribus document.

Name the document and click the Save button.

Do this for all Sribus document parts.

Normally you would use PDF Chain to merge the PDF documents into one. The problem is that PDFTK (which PDF Chain uses) doesn't produce a PDF/X-3 when merging PDF/X-3 documents.

Join PDF/X-3 documents

For PDF/X-3 we recommend Ghostscript to merge PDF documents (see Creating a PDF/X-3 document). While the result of this process still produced an error with the Adobe Acrobat X Pro preflight check (“Page boxes not nested properly”), the author of the part of Ghostscript which handles the conversion, doesn't consider this an PDF/X-3 validation error (see pdfwrite - check annotation placement and Box sizes for PDF/X-3 validity).

Use the following command in a terminal (see the Ubuntu documentation for using the terminal):

gs -dPDFX -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -dUseCIEColor -dNOOUTERSAVE -sProcessColorModel=DeviceCMYK -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=outputfile.pdf file1.pdf file2.pdf ...

where you replace outputfile.pdf with the name of your final PDF document and file1.pdf etc with the names of the PDF document parts. Download our, open it in a text editor and modify the lines marked "Customize", and save it in the same directory as the PDF documents (file1.pdf etc).

The Use Color Profile option

A note about the Use Color Profile option (in the File > Export > Save as PDF > Color tab).  If Use Color Profile is not checked (and Output intended for is set to Printer), every image will be converted to CMYK according to the color management setup. This most probably increases the size of the final PDF – CMYK uses 4 color channels (C, M, Y and K) as opposed to the three channels of RGB (R, G and B). If it is checked, images are not converted but the color profile embedded in the image will be embedded in the PDF too. This is why this option is checked and grayed out when creating a PDF/X-3.

Part 3: PDF quality control

Enter the following in a terminal to check that the PDF document is of the right version:

pdftk mydoc.pdf dump_data

Print shop quality control

The print shop hopefully checks the PDF document before printing. If unsure, ask them for a printed proof before starting the final print run.


Congratulations for this amazing website.
I have three small questions (hope this is the place for posing questions)
1) where should I place the file?
2) Also, in this file it says "This assumes an ICC profile to reside in the file (ISO Coated sb.icc)", shouldn´t it be "blurb.icc"?
3) Furthermore I am getting an error out of the command line code you give (I am substituting "file1.pdf" for the actual file)

Hi and thank you for your comments!

1. In the same directory as the PDF's. (Instructions are now updated.)

2. Yes. (File is now updated.)

3. What error do you get?

Thank you for your valuable comments!

Thank you for your reply it now works perfectly. Concerning point 3, please note that this error does not appear anymore, now that I have changed the content and location of the file Nevertheless I include a description of it as it might be useful, for instance, as a website pointer for other people having the same problem.

3. the error I previously got:

~/Downloads$ gs -dPDFX -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -dUseCIEColor -dNOOUTERSAVE -sProcessColorModel=DeviceCMYK -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=outputfile.pdf coupdedes-1.pdf E93666.pdf
GPL Ghostscript 9.05 (2012-02-08)
Copyright (C) 2010 Artifex Software, Inc. All rights reserved.
This software comes with NO WARRANTY: see the file PUBLIC for details.
Error: /undefinedfilename in --file--
Operand stack:
--nostringval-- --nostringval-- (ISO Coated sb.icc) (r)
Execution stack:
%interp_exit .runexec2 --nostringval-- --nostringval-- --nostringval-- 2 %stopped_push --nostringval-- --nostringval-- --nostringval-- false 1 %stopped_push 1910 1 3 %oparray_pop 1909 1 3 %oparray_pop 1893 1 3 %oparray_pop 1787 1 3 %oparray_pop --nostringval-- %errorexec_pop .runexec2 --nostringval-- --nostringval-- --nostringval-- 2 %stopped_push --nostringval-- --nostringval--
Dictionary stack:
--dict:1165/1684(ro)(G)-- --dict:0/20(G)-- --dict:78/200(L)--
Current allocation mode is local
Last OS error: 2
Current file position is 1114
GPL Ghostscript 9.05: Unrecoverable error, exit code 1