Recommended settings for PDF/VT Output


A PDF/VT file is a PDF file that has been optimized for use with variable data. When processing a PDF/VT file, all of the static content in the document (such as a background PDF image) will be downloaded only one time. It is then cached and applied automatically to all of the data records that are processed during the merge. This results in faster merge times, smaller file sizes, and faster printing times as well.


To produce PDF/VT output that Adobe Acrobat can verify complies with the PDF/VT-1 Standard, and is produced in the fastest possible manner, please select the following settings:


1a) CC 2019 and above: Choose the Create PDF/VT action in the Merge section.
Note: If you are running CC 2018 or an earlier version of InDesign, choose Print: PDF, as shown below.

1b) When ready, click the Start button. If prompted, select the database and then continue. 


2a) Confirm the Base Job Name and indicate the number of Page Sets per Job you prefer (the default is set to All, which means all pages will be placed into a single PDF output file - see the Page Sets per Job section for more details about this feature). 

2b) CC 2019 and above: Select PDF/VT from the Format dropdown menu.

Note: If you are running CC 2018 or an earlier version of InDesign, on the Options panel select the Enable PDF/VT Caching option and also select the Include Metadata option (place a check in each of these check boxes).

NOTE FOR EFI FIERY USERS: On some EFI Fiery systems (especially where you wish to utilize the Fiery FreeForm feature), please use the PDF/VT without metadata option instead (or for CC 2018 and earlier, un-check the Include Metadata checkbox). Customers have reported that the FreeForm feature is not available for PDF files that are created in standard PDF/VT format. Removing the PDF/VT metadata appears to resolve these issues.





2c) VDP Optimizer: For best performance, select Document Pages Only for the VDP Optimizer setting.


2d) On the Post-Processing panel, choose the settings you prefer (default setting is Leave in Folder). For best performance, when prompted to save the PDF file please save this to a location on your local disk, NOT on a Server volume. If you must transfer the PDF to a hot folder on a server volume, you can do so manually after the job has been created, or you may use the Post-Processing option Copy to Specified Folder instead. This option creates a local copy of the PDF, and then copies it to the specified folder when it is finished.

2e) When ready, click Continue.



3a) Select an available PDF Export preset, such as [High Quality Print]

3b) Choose the PDF/X-4:2010 Standard (this is required to ensure conforming PDF/VT output).

3c) From the panels, customize any of the default settings as you prefer. NOTE: Do not select Create Tagged PDF (do not place a check in this check box) because this feature is not compatible with PDF/VT output. 

3d) When ready, click Export and when prompted, choose a destination for the output file.


Your PDF/VT file will be created and stored in the selected destination. If you followed the steps in this document, you can be sure that you have created a fully conforming PDF/VT file produced using the fastest possible combination of settings. Please see below for a few more performance suggestions.


Note on Metadata Option: When you create a PDF/VT file with embedded Metadata, this ensures that a conforming PDF/VT file will be created. In fact, the Metadata option is required on some systems, such as those by Creo. However, customers have reported that other systems (such as those by EFI) may run slightly faster if you turn the Metadata option off. In the specific case of EFI Fiery systems, customers have also reported that omitting the metadata from the PDF is required in order to access certain FreeForm features on the DFE. To turn the PDF/VT metadata option off, for CC2019 and newer systems you select PDF/VT without metadata from the Format dropdown menu. On CC 2018 and earlier systems, you un-check the Include Metadata checkbox. Note that you may wish to experiment with the Metadata option to determine if there is any performance improvement to be gained.

Note on Standard PDF: There is an option under the Format dropdown menu on the PDF Driver window named Standard PDF. This option will create a standard (non-optimized) PDF file. This can sometimes be desired if you are printing one PDF file for each record, for eaxmple. However, we never recommend using the Standard PDF setting for print output because the content is not cached, and will result in a very large output file and slow overall processing. So for PDF files that you intend to print, always select one of the PDF/VT options as described above.


If you wish to verify that the PDF file you produced does in fact conform to PDF/VT standards, you can do so using Adobe Acrobat DC, as described below. Note: The instructions provided here are for Acrobat DC 2018.

1) Open the PDF file with Acrobat DC

2) From the Tools tab, select the PDF Standards option

3) Click on the Preflight option on the right window panel

4) This opens the Preflight window.

5) Open the PDF/VT Compliance entry in the list

[If you don't see PDF/VT Compliance listed, click the dropdown menu at the top of the
window just below the window title and select "PDF Standards" to show more options. ]

6) Click on the option for Verify Compliance with PDF/VT-1.

7) Click the Analyze button.

If the file is a valid PDF/VT file, the report will indicate No problems found.