Can new versions of Acrobat create a PDF 1.4 File for FDA Submissions?

Every so often I will hear from a bio-pharma customer who will tell me something similar to this:

We can’t move to a newer version of Acrobat because we have to make PDF 1.4 files for agency submissions.

Put succinctly— that just isn’t true.

The PDF Version is not the same as the version of Acrobat.

Acrobat XI (and previous versions) can easily save back to previous versions.

In fact, you can set Acrobat to create files in the version you want all the time, by adjusting a few simple settings.

I’ve previously written about two related topics:

In this article, I will discuss how to:

  1. Saving and Loading PDF Settings
    1. Save out an older PDF setting to move to a new system
    2. Load a PDF setting into Acrobat
  2. Setting the default PDF Setting for:
    1. PDF Print Driver
    2. Word, Excel and PowerPoint
    3. Creating PDF from the desktop, in batch or when combining documents
  3. Tips for Setting Defaults when deploying Acrobat

Read on to learn more.

Saving and Loading PDF Settings

PDF Settings Files— also called Distiller Settings or Job Options files— are small text files which instruct Acrobat to create a PDF file using certain specifications.

This file will be named name.joboptions and is a plain text file and is compatible with Acrobat 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and probably beyond.

Below is the PDF Settings file I use to show standard settings for FDA regulatory compliance.

Right-click on the icon and choose:

  • Internet Explorer
    Save Target As . . .
  • FireFox
    Save Link As . . .

Download these FDA PDF Settings files

Save out an older PDF setting to move to a new system

The PDF Settings files are located in different locations depending on the version of Acrobat and the operating system.

Rather than list the paths for all the different combinations, here is a much simpler way to find and save a PDF Setting.

  1. Launch Acrobat
  2. Choose Advanced> Print Production> Acrobat Distiller
  3. Select the Setting you wish to copy from the menu:
    Changing an existing setting
  4. Choose Settings> Edit Adobe PDF Settings  . . .
  5. Click the Save As button and save the Settings file (name.joboptions) to a location of your choice.
  6. In Distiller, change the default settings back if you changed them.

Load a PDF Setting into Acrobat

Adding a PDF setting to your Acrobat installation is simple.

  1. Launch Acrobat
  2. Choose Advanced> Print Production> Acrobat Distiller
  3. Choose Settings> Add Adobe PDF Settings . . .
  4. Locate the name.joboptions file and click the Open button

Setting Default PDF Settings for the PDF Print Driver and Office Apps

Acrobat offers a multitude of methods for creating PDFs from Office documents:

  • Via the AdobePDF Print driver
  • Via the PDFmaker buttons installed into popular office applications
  • By combining native documents using the Combine function in Acrobat

Each approach will require some set-up to ensure that all documents created have fonts embedded.

Setting Default PDF Maker Settings for the Adobe PDF Print Driver

Follow these steps to set the Adobe PDF Print Driver to always use the Embed All setting:

  1. From any application, choose File—> Print.
    Select the Adobe PDF from the Name list.
    B)Click the Properties (may also be called Preferences on Windows Vista/7) button
    Changing Adboe PDF print driver setting
  2. Choose a PDF Setting from the Default Settings list and then Click OKSetting PDF Preferences for the PDF Print Driver

The setting will remain “sticky” for the next time you print to the AdobePDF Print Driver.

Setting a Default PDF Setting for Office PDF Makers

Acrobat installs 1-button PDF conversion toolbars and menus into popular Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, Project and Internet Explorer. The Acrobat-Office integration is called a “PDF Maker”.

Follow these steps to set an Office PDFmaker button to always use the Embed All setting. The example below is from Microsoft Word.

  1. Launch the application of your choice, but do not open a document.
  2. In your version of Office, make the following change:
    1. In Office 2003 or Office XP, Choose AdobePDF—> Change Conversion Settings
    2. In Office 2007, choose the Acrobat and click Preferences
  3. Choose a PDF Setting from the Conversion Settings list
    Choosing a PDF Setting in the Word PDF Maker
  4. Click OK

Setting a Default PDF Maker Setting for Combine or Create from Desktop in Acrobat

Besides printing to the Adobe PDF Print Driver or using the PDF Makers, there are other methods to convert native files to PDF:

  • Create or Combine Files from the desktop
  • Batch Processing
  • File—> Create PDF—> From File . . . in Acrobat
  • File—> Combine Files
  •  . . . and others

When conversion takes place using these direct methods, you need to specify the desired conversion setting in Acrobat Preferences for each application supported.

  1. In Acrobat, choose Edit—> Preferences
  2. Click on the Convert to PDF category from the list at left
  3. Click the Edit Settings button
    A) Select the Convert to PDF Category

    B) Select an application (e.g. Microsoft Office Word)
    C) Click the Edit Settings button

    Editing Preferences for PDF Settings

  4. In the Edit Settings window, change the default Conversion Setting to the desired settingSetting the PDF Setting
  5. Click OK
  6. Repeat for all applications

If you have Microsoft Office, you will need to make changes in the Convert To section for all of these applications:

  • Microsoft Office Word
  • Microsoft Office Excel
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint

Tips for Setting Default PDF Settings during Deployment

IT Professionals are concerned with pushing out Acrobat installations that meet the needs of their users.

Using Adobe’s free Acrobat 9 Customization Wizard, you can set preferences and behaviors for user installations of Acrobat, including the PDF Settings deployed and set as defaults for users.

  1. Download and start the Acrobat 9 Customization Wizard
  2. Choose File—> Open and locate the Acrobat MSI file
  3. Choose the Distiller category on the left
  4. Click the ADD button to import your PDF Setting
    Adding your setting
  5. Set the imported setting as the default:
    A)Choose your Setting from the list
    B)Click the Set as Default button
    Changing the default
  6. The default setting will have a red outline:
    Default setting in red

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