Lowering the File Size of Your PDF

If you are a creator and you are interested in selling PDF versions of your books and comics, here is a tip about formatting your PDF file:

    Lower the file size.

File size is important when your talking about a digital product. If it’s too big, then it becomes a hassle for your customer to download, save, and transfer to devices. It’s also less convenient for you when you store your files, transfer to devices for testing, or upload to your online store. The smaller you can get your file without compromising quality, the better.

The good news is that your pages don’t have to be too big to look good on digital devices. The iPad screen is 1024×768 pixels, which is not too large of a resolution.

I see this problem a lot, both as a consumer of digital books, and as a comic creator and manager of this website. I handle lots of digital files and PDFs.

You should easily be able to make the file size of your PDF to around 200-300 kb per page, or even smaller. My 24 page full color comic issues come in around 2-3 MB. I was able to create a 100 page full color comic at only 9 MB. So you can see why I get frustrated when I buy a 50 page digital comic and have to download a 80 MB file.

There is no real standard in the industry right now, but here are a few tips based on my personal opinions. Take them as you will. In my experience, these tips help to make comics that look beautiful on the iPad while taking up minimal space.

Tips for Lowering the File Size of PDF Files

    1. Save each page as an image. Lower the resolution of each page to around 1000-1500 pixels on its longest side. For my comics with a page size of 7″x10.5″, I lowered the resolution to 100 dpi. That made each page 700×1050 pixels, which is just large enough for an iPad screen. Use these images to create your PDF in your favorite application.

    2. If you have Photoshop, use the “Save For Web” option instead of the usual “Save As” command. This will lower the file size even more.

    3. Use a pro PDF-making application like Acrobat or InDesign. Using something like Word tends to make bloated PDF files.

    4. Sometimes, you don’t need to save each page as an image first. Some programs let you work with and place high-res files and then let you specify the image size when exporting a PDF.

    5. If you have an existing PDF file, you can use Adobe Acrobat’s Optimize feature to decrease the file size.

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