Top Ten Best Practices for Creating Usable PDFs

  • Top Ten Best Practices for Creating Usable PDFs

    Posted by David Cutler on February 27, 2024 at 10:09 pm

    As a follow up to my LinkedIn post about my appearance on ATG’s Morning Coffee Revu earlier today I thought I’d post my “Top Ten List” over hear to foster some discussion.

    So, without further ado here is todays Top Ten List (read in you best David Letterman voice)

    10. Use consistent file names when providing updates
    9. Flatten all of those “comments” that show as markups
    8. Include layers and use clear layer names
    7. Take the time to ensure that you line work “closes”
    6. Establish bookmarks and page labels before distributing
    5. Set the scale prior to distributing and include a “visual scale” on all pages
    4. Don’t “shift” your linework or move details to other pages when making revisions
    3. Provide both a single file with all sheets and individual files for all pages
    2. Don’t lock the PDF!
    1. Never print, stamp and scan your design documents. Friends don’t give friends (or enemies) raster PDFs!

    So, what did I miss?

    David Cutler replied 1 month, 2 weeks ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Isaac Harned

    Member
    February 28, 2024 at 8:54 am
    Points: 6,174
    Rank: UC2 Brainery Purple Belt I UC2 Brainery Purple Belt I

    I also wish they could keep their layers intact, we go through and visually separate air systems on mechanicals. Would be super handy to turn supply a different color than the exhaust without marking up the whole duct! But I think this is more of a wish list than a practice anyone thinks about.

  • Doug McLean

    Member
    February 28, 2024 at 10:03 am
    Points: 12,587
    Rank: UC2 Brainery Blue Belt II UC2 Brainery Blue Belt II

    Not sure if these count, they might be more organizationally specific.

    Add your Custom Statuses
    Make sure that any custom columns that you want are applied to the PDF.

    • David Cutler

      Member
      February 28, 2024 at 10:23 am
      Points: 23,329
      Rank: UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III

      Maybe that will be a subject for a new “Top Ten” list – “Top Ten Best Practices For Using PDFs In Your Workflows”… I wonder how many “Top Ten” lists we could come up with… πŸ™‚

  • Troy DeGroot

    Organizer
    February 28, 2024 at 1:14 pm
    Points: 20,778
    Rank: UC2 Brainery Brown Belt UC2 Brainery Advanced Brown Belt Rank

    Great list! I used to do a Letterman Top 10 blog post with each new release. I have a blog post in the works from our friend @RebeccaYu and her checklist for drawing preparation for Studio Sessions. Some of the comments here are addressed there as well. It’s in a stack of “coming soon” items that are, well, coming soon. 😜

    • David Cutler

      Member
      February 29, 2024 at 7:24 am
      Points: 23,329
      Rank: UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III

      A number of the items on the list have applications across multiple workflows. I’ve decided going forward that I’m going to set the scale and establish bookmarks before I distribute the files to our trade partners. I don’t know how many of them, if any, will even notice, but if I’m going to invest the time in polishing the file others might as well have the “improved” file available so that they don’t have to repeat the steps.

      • Troy DeGroot

        Organizer
        February 29, 2024 at 10:45 am
        Points: 20,778
        Rank: UC2 Brainery Brown Belt UC2 Brainery Advanced Brown Belt Rank

        Whether they are internal or external customers, thinking of those downstream is always the right mindset. It reduces redundant work to your internal team and might be the edge that makes external customers pick you over the next guy.

      • Doug McLean

        Member
        February 29, 2024 at 2:38 pm
        Points: 12,587
        Rank: UC2 Brainery Blue Belt II UC2 Brainery Blue Belt II

        Just a thought Dave

        You talked about working in individual pages on the MCR a little. If that’s the way you want to work, setting your Bookmarks is redundant.

        I personally prefer to work with individual sheets. If you’re working in the cloud, you’re only ever working with that one page, not an entire drawing package. Its much easier to collaborate with single sheets as well, again, you only have the one sheet open, and not the whole package.

        Just something to consider

        • David Cutler

          Member
          February 29, 2024 at 3:41 pm
          Points: 23,329
          Rank: UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III UC2 Brainery Brown Belt III

          Good point @Doug McLean on redundancy if working with individual sheets!

          My preference is to work in a single file with multiple pages. This is probably out of habit more than anything as when I started in the industry I had all of the paper pages in a 3 ring binder or full size sheets on a plan rack 🀣

          One advantage I find with having a multi-page PDF with bookmarks is that I don’t have to open another file if I need information from another sheet – I simply click on the bookmark. If there is a detail that I expect to go back to multiple times I will add a detailed “child” bookmark to get me right where I need to go with a single click. Often I will have 2 to 3 windows with the same PDF file open to different pages. One of the advantages of a multi-screen monitor setup. πŸ™‚

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