PDF Optimization

The USD School of Law website has limited space on the campus web server and tends to exceed the allotted space five to six times a year. This is mainly due to the posting of overly large PDF files. In order to avoid this overage, law school web content managers should follow this tip sheet on optimizing PDF files before posting to the web.

Before uploading any PDF to the website, always consider whether the information is better posted as an HTML web page instead of a PDF. Contact the Communications Office for help to determine which format is best.

Where to Begin?

In many cases, content managers may not have access to the original document, just the posted PDF file. Many of these PDFs are saved with settings that are inappropriate for the website. To optimize these existing files, always work from the PDF version currently posted online.

Minimize the Number of Fonts

The more font families that are used in a document, the larger the file. Keep font selections to a minimum by using only university-approved fonts:

  • Serif: Berkeley and Garamond
  • Sans-serif: Myriad and Arial

Use Appropriate Image Types

Graphics saved as bitmaps (.bmp) or jpegs (.jpg, .jpeg) can become pixelated (blurry) when compressing PDFs. For help optimizing web images before including them in a document, please send the image to the Communications Office.

Use RGB instead of CMYK

If the use of color is necessary, use the RGB (red, green, blue) color channel for images and documents instead of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). CMYK requires one more data channel than RGB. Images and files can easily be converted to RGB in photo manipulation programs such as Photoshop or in Adobe Acrobat. This step alone can reduce your file to 1/3 of its original size.

  • In Acrobat, go to Edit > Preflight… > PDF Fixups. Click on “Convert to RGB” then click the “Analyze and Fix” button.
  • In Photoshop, to convert your images to RGB before inserting them into a document, go to Image > Mode, then choose RGB from the options.

Convert to Grayscale

If color is not required, convert the entire PDF document to grayscale.  Even if the document only has text, its file size can still be reduced if it is converted to grayscale.

  • In Acrobat, go to Edit > Preflight… > PDF Fixups. Click on “Convert to Grayscale” then click the “Analyze and Fix” button.
  • In Photoshop, to convert your images to grayscale before inserting them into a document, go to Image -> Mode, then choose Grayscale from the options. A window will pop up asking you to discard color information. Click “Discard.”

Saving Changes

After following the instructions above to optimize your PDF, make sure to properly save the file:

  • Select File > Save As (not just Save), then force the program to replace the existing document before posting. This will remove the change history associated with the original document, helping make the file size smaller.

Questions?

Contact the Communications Office if you have further questions or need assistance.

Contact:

Office of Communications
Guadalupe Hall, Room 201
Phone: (619) 260-4207
Email Office of Communications