Tuesday August 09, 2016

Thinking outside the page box: a guide to PDF page boxes

Topics: PDF, PitStop Pro

Did you know that the page dimensions of a PDF file could be expressed by 5 different and purposeful measurements?

Depending on how a PDF file is generated, it may or may not include all 5 sizes and depending on the workflow, certain page boxes must be defined.

Let’s begin by defining all 5 page boxes

Media Box

In general terms, this is the overall size of a PDF file, for example: Letter, A4, Tabloid, etc. For the purposes of prepress production, a Media Box can represent the final size of the print media and so it would typically be larger than the size of a finished product. In addition to the “live” area, a Media Box can encompass bleed elements, crop and/or registration marks, slug-lines, control strips or any other relevant data. The other 4 page box measurements can be equal to but not larger than the Media Box.

Trim Box

This area simply represents the final, trimmed product size. Proper Trim Box definition is essential for page positioning within impositions or other forms of output that require a finished page size.

Bleed Box

When objects are intended to bleed during the design process, they typically extend past the page edge by a certain value determined by a print vendor based on the capability of their equipment. Objects can be extended 1/8", 1/4" or 3mm for example. This space, beyond the Trim Box is defined as the Bleed Box within the PDF file.

Read more about bleed in the article "why you should have bleed in a PDF file".

Crop Box

For prepress use, the Crop Box is often unnecessary, as it defines the visible area of a PDF file. Adobe Acrobat most commonly uses the Crop Box for printing and screen display. If a Crop Box is defined, page objects may appear to be cropped to these dimensions even if other page boxes are larger.

Art Box

Also infrequently used in a prepress environment, the Art Box defines a page’s meaningful content area.

Where to find PDF page box information in Pitstop Pro

PitStop View Tool

Open a PDF file and click the “Show Page Boxes” button to view the various page boxes, which are identified by the colors listed with the definitions above. This option provides the user with a visual reference of page boxes.

As a side note: football in Belgium is soccer.

PitStop Inspector

Expose the PitStop Inspector, click the “Position” category and click one of the last two options for either “Page Box Overview” or “Edit Page Boxes”. Either option now provides the user with physical dimensions for each defined page box. Edit Page Boxes allows for manual editing, enabling and/or disabling of page boxes.

Page box overview

Edit page boxes

PitStop Preflight Regular Reports

Click the “Page Boxes” Bookmark of a PitStop Regular Preflight Report to view Page Box details of a PDF file. This information mirrors that of the Page Box Overview in the PitStop Inspector.

You can also build a new Action List using the “Gather Page Boxes” Action to retrieve the same page box details as found in a PitStop Preflight Regular Report. When running this Action List, the PitStop Navigator will be empty, however click the “Actions” menu in the upper right > Show Report…

Master PDF page boxes with PitStop Pro

Understanding Page Box dimensions is of great value when preparing files for further processing and/or output, as processing results can sometimes be unexpected when Page Boxes are not set correctly. PitStop Pro is the tool you need to fix all page box issues.

Learn more about PitStop Pro and get a free trial

For questions, visit the Enfocus Portal: http://www.enfocus.com/supportportal or visit the Enfocus Community at: http://forum.enfocus.com/

About Jeffrey Philips

Jeff Phillips is a Senior Product Specialist for Enfocus, providing support to a global audience including on-site trainings, on-line webinars and much more.

He’s also become known as the famous “voice” featured in the most recent Enfocus video tutorials.  Prior to joining Enfocus, Phillips was renowned throughout the United States for promoting best practices and industry standards within the Graphic Arts and Commercial Newspaper industries, all the while an active advocate of Enfocus solutions.

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