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What settings, profiles, etc. are suggested to create a PDF document with high quality images?

I produce many PDF documents by inserting hundreds of images into a Microsoft Word 2007 document and then converting it to PDFs. In general, I have been unhappy with the lack of sharpness in the resulting images (see attachments).

I have Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.0 and I have just stumbled upon some information regarding Adobe distiller (which I didn't even realize I had in the master suite). After reading material for over an hour, I am probably more confused now than I was when I started.

What I typically do is create a 70 page Word document, of which approximately 50 pages have 6 images per page. These documents generally run between 4-6 MBs.

After converting to a PDF, I typically wind up with a 5-8 MB file. What I want to have happen is for the resulting images in the PDF document to be as sharp as possible (if the file size could be less than 10-11 MBs or so).

Is there a suggested group of settings or set up steps in Adobe Distiller or Word, or anything else which can accomplish this?

Thank you very much.
original-word-document-.docx
typical-image-quality.pdf
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photoman11
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photoman11
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3 Solutions
 
Ray PaseurCommented:
What is the role that Word plays in the document creation process?  Is it really needed?
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photoman11Author Commented:
Ray,

Excellent question! That's one of the things I really value about Expert Exchange-everybody brings such a wealth of options to the table.

To answer your question, my goal is to wind up with a PDF document that contains approximately 20% of the pages in text while the remainder is comprised of pages that contain multiple images per page.

I'm familiar with Microsoft Word and that's what I have historically used to create all kinds of documents. As I started getting into creating these e-books, it seemed natural to just continue with Microsoft Word because I was familiar with it.

I realize there are other packages out there which probably do a better job in creating e-books (I think one of my subcontractors suggested Adobe's InDesign, as an example). I just hate to go through another learning curve on yet another software application because I currently use approximately 40-60 software applications for my business, as it is.

So, the short answer is – Microsoft Word is a means to an end, the end being a PDF document. What were you thinking of?
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:

Also remember that we need to know how these images will be ultimately be viewed by the end user.
Viewing them on a computer screen is very different from Printing these images out, or viewing them on a web page.
So we need to need to know where the sharpness *really* counts.


<What I want to have happen is for the resulting images in the PDF document to be as sharp as possible (if the file size could be less than 10-11 MBs or so)>

1. Image quality and file size are closely related.
The more "Detail" in your image, the bigger the file, so you may be limiting yourself here...
For example, Bitmap files (.bmp) have better quality than .jpg images because bitmap files are uncompressed (.jpg images are compressed.)
Note that as of this writing an average 10MP digital camera will produce an image of about 1 mb in size (and these are compressed jpgs!)
However, .bmp files can be up to 10 times larger than a corresponding .jpg file.
So again, the image quality you are seeking may simply not be possible with your file size restriction of: "10-11 MBs or so"
So you will also have to tell us:
a. What image format you are using
b. Why this file size restriction exist, and how was it decided upon?

2. Word is not the best choice for storing images in a "Catalog" like fashion as you are trying to do, because you are now also going through the Word Graphic Display system as well.
Remember MS word is a "Word Processor" not a true "Desktop Publishing" application.
So again, you are limiting yourself here.
Besides, from what you stated:
<What I typically do is create a 70 page Word document, of which approximately 50 pages have 6 images per page. These documents generally run between 4-6 MBs.>
...you are not using any of Word's Word Processing features anyway...

You would be much better off using a product like:
QuarkXpress
http://www.quark.com/Products/QuarkXPress/
Adobe InDesign:
http://www.adobe.com/products/indesign.html
Or even MS Publisher:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/publisher/
...Where there are many more feature available to do what you really need here.

<After reading material for over an hour, I am probably more confused now than I was when I started.>
The bottom line is that the higher the resolution (detail, sharpness, ...or whatever you want to call it) the bigger the file will be.
This is true for any program.

JeffCoachman


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photoman11Author Commented:
Jeff,

I understand and you are absolutely correct about the relationship between sharpness and image size. To answer your questions:

how these images will be ultimately be viewed by the end user.
-They are viewed on computer monitors, only

So you will also have to tell us:
a. What image format you are using
b. Why this file size restriction exist, and how was it decided upon?
- 99% of the images are JPEG images. That is not to say that, they cannot be converted to another format.
- I was aiming for the final size of the documents to be less than 12 MBs in size primarily because of downloading practicality. The products I am referring to with this Post, are a series of 5 different products that are sold separately as well as a collection.

With the other components that go along with the final PDF document, each of the individual 5 products results in a zip file of between 40-50 MBs. The collection, (which is ordered roughly 50% of the time), comes in at a hefty 220 MBs. My customers have enough trouble dealing with the zip files currently, let alone the 300 MBs or more it would be if the PDF documents were larger (image size/quality was improved).

The challenge is that the image quality looks better in the Word document that it does in the PDF file, following the conversion.

I do use some of the Microsoft Word capability in the non-image pages, however from a desktop publishing standpoint, it is probably not significant.

Of the 3 programs you mentioned, I currently have the CS3 version of Adobe InDesign. However, I have never used it and I'm concerned about a significant learning curve. Since I am completely unfamiliar with the product, I don't know what kind of results the software would produce, in terms of size and quality, once converted to a PDF.

Are there any kind of pre-designed templates (or anything else that works in conjunction with the software)  that would facilitate my process and/or dramatically lower the learning curve?

Thank you very much for your detailed response.
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Ray PaseurCommented:
This may be a long shot, but do you have any skills or resources that can use the popular open-source programming language, PHP?  I am asking because PHP has a couple of good features that may be helpful to you.  It has a fairly good image manipulation library and it has an excellent (and fast) PDF generator class, FPDF.

I share your concern about InDesign; I have never learned it.

Are the PDFs needed for printing?  If not, maybe the way to go would be to generate HTML and create web pages?
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
<I have been unhappy with the lack of sharpness in the resulting images>
But what do the people actually viewing the file think?
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photoman11Author Commented:
Ray,
I am completely unfamiliar with PHP-I have enough trouble with HTML! Interesting idea about creating webpages instead of the PDFs; however being that it is a commercial site which sells products, I would not want to get into all the potential password and security issues.

boag2000: I have had several negative comments concerning the sharpness of the images from customers. And I figure for every one that complains, there's probably at least 10 customers out there which are equally unhappy but don't take the time to complain.
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BillDLCommented:
For the information of other experts, Photoman asked the following questions which explain quite a lot about Microsoft Word as the specific choice of editor:

Asked 1st may 2011 - very brief:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_26987332.html

Asked 3rd May 2011 - the full background, including the use of Macros to automate the tabular layouts of the images:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_26990343.html

The closing comment by Photoman (35710692) on 7th may 2011 sums up why HTML isn't his first choice ;-)
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_26992900.html

I've been monitoring his questions and left well alone because my first suggestion would have been HTML template layouts also.
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BillDLCommented:
I experimented using a couple of "PDF Printer" applications to compare results, and I get the same results as your "typical-image-quality.pdf".  Using a virual printer to convert what is currently open on your screen just captures what it sees and tries to make the best of it.  If you continue using the Word to PDF conversion I think that you will have to make it quite clear to people viewing the PDF files that they are only "reduced representations" of the real photographs, if that is what you are ultimately selling back to them.  More or less "previews" of the real thing, or large thumbnails.

Ray Paseur's PHP approach to my mind is by far the better way to approach this.  Alternatively plain old HTML where at least there is the option for viewers to click a reduced size image and see it larger and with more clarity.  There is various software that allows you to quite easily generate HTML "thumbnail" images from the larger ones (in whatever size you want), pages of thumbnail images, and links to the main ones.  Various techniques using JavaScript can easily create attractive "Light Box" overlay effects and slideshows.

I think you'll be stuck with slightly fuzzy images in your PDF files regardless of how much tweaking you do with the dpi and other qualities in the PDF generation from MS Word.  
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Ray PaseurCommented:
PHP and FPDF aside, I've also had pretty good luck setting up albums with a thing called JAlbum.  Example here:
http://www.landonbaseball.com/pearson

It has the options to make different size thumbnails and slides, to link to the original images, to choose different skins, etc.  It's a Windows desktop app.  The configurations are kind of fiddly, but once you're used to it, it's easy enough to use.
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photoman11Author Commented:
I appreciate the combined brainpower and efforts that everybody has contributed to this. Because of that and the realization that I can easily be on the wrong path, let me put it all on the table ...

http://www.photoebooks4u.com/sampleposes/index.html will bring you to my cluster of sales pages for the products which mostly tax the Word to PDF process. The irony is that I am presenting photographs which demonstrate different poses. From a purist's standpoint, what the pose is, is much more important than showing it with the clarity of a wedding album.

In spite of that however, as stated earlier in this thread, I have had customers complain about the fuzziness of images contained in the PDF documents. The main reason I went the PDF route as opposed to an online album route, was to make it more difficult to have my products stolen.

Of course, if a customer wanted to, they could always post my products on those websites which make available products to be downloaded at will, disregarding all copyright laws, etc.

I even thought of going the album approach whereby a password would be required to access the HTML pages, however without continually changing the password and thus sending the new passwords to my customers (which is an administrative nightmare), I made the best (I thought, at the time) decision I could and decided to go the PDF route.

If anyone has an idea for getting around the entire "hundreds of images on a PDF" situation, I would be more than happy to entertain it. Frankly, I am at a bit of a loss to understand the reaction to the clarity in the PDFs only because I also supply folders containing each image, one in a larger size that can be displayed on their computers; and one at a smaller size that can be loaded on cell phones.

Since cell phones can be taken with a lot easier than PDF documents, I don't quite understand the reactions I have received, other than my own inability to get those points across. In any case, to get the entire picture (pun is intended), and place all the comments in perspective, hopefully taking a look at http://www.photoebooks4u.com/sampleposes/index.html will provide the complete picture ... which may be will lead to a brilliant idea on how I can sidestep this entire problem.

Again, I really appreciate everyone's involvement and one thank you again for your help.
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
My Opinion?...

Again, what you are really doing here is Desk Top Publishing
So a PDF is a poor choice for this.

FWIW:
PDF stands doe Portable Document Format.
It was meant to simply create Read only versions of most output files.
PDF basically captures the printer output codes and stores them to a file, ...so here obviously image quality was never a consideration.

So for the sake of argument you should exclude PDFs entirely from your list of options.

If what you are doing is DeskTop Publishing, ...then use a desktop publishing program.
Plain and simple (like the ones I mentioned)
There are others as well:
http://desktop-publishing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

<I have never used it and I'm concerned about a significant learning curve.>
There is a learning curve with anything.

What program has a Zero learning curve?
;-)

You site is an prime example of this.
There is a learning curve associated with becoming a professional photographer...
So you will have to clearly quantify what you consider a "Significant" Learning Curve.

Are you saying that the learning curve it too steep/long, you will simply go with low quality PDFs?

Are you saying that you conquered the steep learning curve of Professional photography, but now you want to abandon a technology to reproduce your high quality work because of a similar learning curve?

Hey, ...it took me 10 years to know what I know about Access, and I'm still on the "Learning Curve"
So should I stop now and not learn SQL Server or .Net, because of the "Learning Curve"?

Besides, technically, ...any learning curve is infinite, because technology is always changing...

Again, ...my opinion?
If you are a Professional Photographer, then you should be using Professional Desktop Publishing tools to show off your work.
The learning cure will be whatever it has to be to this end.

;-)

JeffCoachman





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BillDLCommented:
Thanks for explaining your dilemma in such detail.  It's always helpful to know a bit about the background when considering suggestions.

People are strange in the way they form immediate impressions of things.  Looking at your page:
http://www.photoebooks4u.com/sampleposes/index.html

I think the thing that sums up peoples' expectations and possible disappointments is the bold title at the top of the page:  "The Secret To Taking More Professional-looking Photos In Just Minutes!"

I read through the page and looked at all the rearranged poses, and it's all very useful and excellent content, however some people expect "magic", and may make an immediate judgement of the whole package's worth based only on the PDF "Previews".

In some ways it is like people going to view a house that is up for sale.  Instead of looking at the size of the rooms, how they would be used and decorated, and all the other plus factors, you often hear them say "I don't like the colour of that carpet", or "Yuck! Purple lounge suite in a yellow room!"  Why?? They would be redecorating and moving their own furniture in anyway, but it's human nature to be distracted.  It's a proven fact that you can sell a house with garish decor that has been on the market for a long time by painting it out and decorating it in neutral colours.

I really don't know what to suggest in your scenario.  I can see all your reasoning behind trying to protect content while providing an attactive and useful layout, and it's a pity that the images are detracting from what should be just one of the inducements.

I will mess around a bit with different image file types, whether to resize before insertion into Word or after insertion, and with the various Word and PDF Printer settings to see if I can get better quality.  I am still using Word 2003 and save as the standard *.DOC rather than as the 2007 *.DOCX tpe (via the add-on file type converter).

I have unpacked the Word document that you attached at the start of this question.  (A *.docx file is just a "zipped" archive containing all the XML layout files used to display the file when opened, and can be renamed as a *.ZIP file and Unzipped with WinZip.)

Taking the first image (family under a tree), it is 280 x 187 pixels and 96 dpi.  Does that match up with the original image you inserted?  If not, could you supply the original?  In fact, it would be great to have all 6 originals if that would be possible.
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BillDLCommented:
Incidentally, and not being totally familiar with PDF conversion from Word 2007, what settings are offered with regard to quality of PDF eg. dots per inch, etc?
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Ray PaseurCommented:
Regarding this, "The main reason I went the PDF route as opposed to an online album route, was to make it more difficult to have my products stolen."  Why not add a watermark to a highly-compressed JPG copy of the public-facing images?  That appears to be the industry-standard way to handle image theft.

Regarding this. "the album approach whereby a password would be required..." That makes perfect sense and is in use by most of the industry-standard stock image web sites.  The client buys a royalty-free license and gets a password from the site.  The password has an expiration date.  Each client has her own password.  It's a fairly simple design pattern.  You do not need to do anything unnatural like changing passwords all the time.  You just add password and expiry columns to the client record and let your site authentication check these fields.

Regarding this, "the reaction to the clarity in the PDFs..." I get it completely.  In even a wonderful web site, if one part of the site looks shoddy or unprofessional, it's a big turn off.  There are studies about this sort of thing.  Besides, the "purists" already have several books about posing, lighting, corrective posing, etc.  It least I do.  Your audience would seem to be the novice photographer and you can bet they will be distracted by all kinds of things that you and I would consider irrelevant.

I looked at http://www.photoebooks4u.com/sampleposes/index.html but I am not sure what I am supposed to be looking at?  I know that the information is valuable at several levels.

As far as PDF quality goes, you can make exceptionally high quality PDF files (I use 600DPI images) with text and images arrayed in exquisite detail.  It is the industry standard for high-publishing, from the captured photograph to the coffee-table art book, to the poster that is blown up to the size of a bus stop.  Of course, the essential ingredient for large, high-quality images is "image information" and once this is lost in a compression algorithm it cannot be recovered.  And if detailed image information is included, the image quality is preserved but the file size can be very large.  Publishing always considers the balance between quality and size.  Increasingly I favor quality over size because people (especially my contract printers) have fast internet connections.

Suggest you noodle around this web site for some ideas.  They sell books and also PDF e-books, with the same content, at a lower price.  And since they are still doing it after several years they have apparently come up with a satisfactory method of minimizing the risk of theft.
http://www.sitepoint.com/books/phpmysql4/

I don't make PDF files from Word; I make them from imaging programs like Photoshop.  You can import text into Photoshop images.  If you want to preserve quality of images, that approach (or using InDesign) might be the best way to go.
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BillDLCommented:
If watermarking your images sounds like a huge job, a command line program named ImageMagick makes a batch job incredibly easy to do:
http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/annotating/#wmark_text
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photoman11Author Commented:
Thank you for all your suggestions. Watermarking was not the primary issue because I have several automated applications that could do that. My concerns, although related, are somewhat contradictory I know...

1. The final PDF document contains images and text, and even if all the images have watermarks (the document already displays a copyright indication), that provide as much protection for the document as can reasonably be expected
2. Although larger files would produce higher-quality, I've gotten feedback from customers complaining about BOTH the quality, as well as how large the current zip files are.

Regarding the comments that Ray made on albums and password accessibility, can you point me in the direction where I could access this kind of capability, or at least find out more about it and what would be involved?

I guess I was just hoping to find out if there was some alternative to what I was doing which would produce larger quality documents, smaller file sizes, and not take me any longer to do it.

Thanks again to everybody.

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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
<produce larger quality documents, smaller file sizes, and not take me any longer to do it>
Any two of these could be doable, but doing all three obviously presents a lot of challenges...
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photoman11Author Commented:
You mean there is a way to produce larger quality documents with smaller file sizes?
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
Yes, again, as I said twice before, ...use a dedicated Desktop Publishing program...

Then you can load all your images into one document.
You can adjust the quality (and by default, the size) of each image individually or adjust the quality of the final "Composite" image.
With some practice, you can use the enhancement/sharpening tools to increase the perceptible "quality" of the image without changing the size of the file much.

But again, your resistance to learning new, more powerful, ...more professional tools because they have a "learning curve" is a hindrance here...

I'll say it one more time, and I'll leave this up to you...
;-)

    A professional Photographer should be using Professional image manipulation tools...

If file size is really as big of an issue as you state, then offer customers different resolutions (High, Med, Low) and they can select the File Size/Image quality that they want themselves.

This way you are not trying to find some magical Resolution/File size trade-off that all of your customers will be happy with.

JeffCoachman
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photoman11Author Commented:
Thanks Jeff. You bring up valid points. I guess all have to start looking into desktop publishing.
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Jeffrey CoachmanCommented:
;-)
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BillDLCommented:
Thank you photoman11.
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