Color profile error messages from IngramSpark Lightning Source and what to do about them

Lightning Source and IngramSpark often return error messages on submitted PDFs related to color profiles.

Here is how to fix PDFs that have error messages related to color profiles:

First: Follow the rules from regarding the original PDF:

  • Use PDF/X-1a:2001 for interiors
  • Use PDF/X-3:2002 for covers

Second: Check your PDF to see what color profiles it contains before you upload to print. Even though PDF/X-1a is supposed to get rid of all the profiles, and even if you thought you eliminated profiles in prepress, check your PDF! Use Convert Colors in AcrobatPro to examine and fix your file.

Here’s an example. This just happened to me (again) today. I’ve uploaded around 50 files to LSI/Ingram over the years. I swear they are growing more picky! I thought PDF/X-1a was the one-stop way to make the interior PDF, yet it still generated an error.

Opening the PDF in AcrobatPro, here is what the File/Properties menu shows about the settings used to create the PDF. This one was made from InDesign CS6 with the “Export” command. I chose the PDF/X-1a:2001 profile. This is what it says within the PDF:

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 9.52.38 AM

So I’m good, right? LSI didn’t think so:

“PDF CONTAINS ICC COLOR PROFILES: We request files with no color profiles assigned. Please convert all colors to grayscale for black and white images, or CMYK for color images and remove all color profiles. Saving a new PDF with the default setting of PDF/X-1a:2001 will address the issue. For best results, please correct the issue(s) listed. You may refer to the File Creation Guide for further instructions on creating a compliant PDF.”

Here’s what the “Convert Colors” dialogue revealed about that PDF:

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.12.17 AM

The upper right hand corner (when you hit the blue button) reveals the color spaces (profiles if you will) within the PDF. Apparently “DeviceCMYK” was not digestible to the Ingram print robot. Note that there is nothing but black ink in this document (100K).

Here is how I filled in the Convert Colors dialogue box:

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.13.14 AM

You must convert to a grayscale profile for the interior. I chose Dot Gain 10%. See Bookbuilder’s Almanac Volume 1 for a detailed discussion of the results of the various grayscale conversions on your file. There are some articles out on the web about LSI accepting Gracol profiles for color. This was the case, but apparently no longer. I’ve been submitting Gracol-6 files for the past year or so without errors. Not anymore!

Here is the link to the Adobe page about all you can do with the Convert Colors dialogue:

Color conversion and ink managment in Acrobat

And here’s another interesting bit of information:

Scrubbing all profiles at the start

This page dated May 11, 2017. Stay tuned.

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