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Network Working Group                                       Jacob Palme
Internet Draft                                 Stockholm University/KTH
draft-palme-int-print-03.txt                                     Sweden
Category-to-be: Informational
Expires: September 1998                                      March 1998




Making Postscript and PDF International



Status of this Memo


This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are working
documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas, and
its working groups. Note that other groups may also distribute working
documents as Internet-Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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ftp.isi.edu (US West Coast).

This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.

Copyright (C) The Internet Society 1998. All Rights Reserved.


Differences between version 02 and 03 of this document

Made the dimensions more consistent, rounded inch dimensions to 1/10
(still within ISO 216 tolerances), fixed some typos and editorial
things, added requirement for min. 20 mm left/right margin for filing
holes, added recommendation for PDF over Postscript, replaced
'Acrobat' (name of an Adobe software product) by PDF (file format
standard name), added some references, etc.


Abstract

Certain text formats, for example Postscript (MIME-Type:
application/postscript; file extension .ps) and Portable Document Format
(MIME-Type: application/pdf;  file extension .pdf) specify exactly the
page layout of the printed document. The commonly used paper format is
different in North America and the rest of the world. North America uses
the 'Letter' format, while the rest of the world mostly uses the ISO-
standard 'A4' format. This means that documents formatted on one
continent may not be easily printable on another continent. This memo
gives advice on how to produce documents which are equally well
printable with the Letter and the A4 formats. By using the advice in
this document, you can put up a document on the Internet, which
recipients can print without problem both in and outside North America.

A very short summary of the advice in this document: If you are using
U.S. Letter paper format, ensure that both the left and right margins
are at least 21 mm (0.8 in). If you are using A4 paper format, ensure
that both the top and bottom margins are at least 33 mm (1.3 in).

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Two methods for printing on different paper formats
   2.1 Method 1: Use wider margins
   2.2 Method 2: Print with reduced size
3. References
4. Author's Address


1.    Introduction

Certain text formats, for example Postscript (MIME-Type:
application/postscript; file extension .ps) and Portable Document Format
(MIME-Type: application/pdf;  file extension .pdf) specify exactly the
page layout of the printed document. The commonly used paper format is
different in North America and the rest of the world. North America uses
the 'Letter' format, while the rest of the world uses the 'A4' format.

The North American Letter format is 216 x 279 mm (8.5 x 11 in) while the
ISO standardised A4 format is 210 x 297 mm (8.3 x 11.7 in). The Letter
format is thus 6 mm (0.2 inches) wider, while the A4 format is 18 mm
(0.7 inches) taller.

This means that documents formatted on one continent may not be
printable on another continent. It is oboviously desirable that
documents on the Internet are printable on all continents. This paper
gives advice on how to achieve this.

This memo is not intended for HTML documents, but the advice may be of
value also for HTML developers in case they are using fixed-size
graphics and fixed WIDTH sizes of objects in HTML documents.


2.    Three methods for printing on different paper formats

2.1   Method 1: Use wider margins

Paper format
you use when
converting
the document                                 Suggested minimal margins
to Postscript Paper
or PDF        orien-      Suggested change   Left   Right  Top    Bot-
             tation      of margins                              tom
------------  -----------  -----------------  -----  -----  -----  -----
A4           Portrait     Add 18 mm (0.7     20 mm  20 mm  33 mm  33 mm
             (upright,    inches) to the top 0.8"   0.8"   1.3"   1.3"
             vertical)    of page and bottom
                          of page margins

A4           Landscape    Add 18 mm (0.7     33 mm  33 mm  15 mm  15 mm
             (lying,      inches) to the     1.3"   1.3"   0.6"   0.6"
             horizontal)  left and right
                         margins

Letter       Portrait     Add 6 mm (0.2      20 mm  26 mm  15 mm  15 mm
             (upright,    inches) to the     0.8"   1.0"   0.6"   0.6"
             vertical)    right margins

Letter       Landscape    Add 6 mm (0.2      15 mm  15 mm  21 mm  21 mm
             (lying,      inches) to the top 0.6"   0.6"   0.8"   0.8"
             horizontal)  of page and bottom
                          of page margins

The reason why you have to add 18 respectively 6 mm to both the top and
the bottom margin is that you do not know what kind of printer the
recipient uses, and different printers feed paper in different ways,
requiring the margin to be added either at the top or the bottom of the
paper. Left and right margins on any paper format should be at least 20
mm wide to accomodate filing with ISO 838 hole punches.

Note: Ensure that also headers, footers, and page numbers are within the
suggested minimal margins. Many word processors put headers, footers and
page numbers outside the specified text margins.


2.2   Method 2: Print with reduced size

This is a method useful for the recipient of a document with the wrong
paper size: The recipient sets the printer to print with reduced size.
When the sender produces the PDF or Postscript files, the sender should
'print' with 100 % size, but when the recipient prints the PDF or
Postscript files, and if the program for printing PDF or Postscript
files allows this, the recipient should print the document with 94 % or
less of full size. Many programs for printing Postscript files do not
allow this. In that case, the recipient can convert a Postscript
document to PDF format and then print it with the PDF printing program.
This requires, however, that the recipient has the Adobe Acrobat
Distiller program, which is not freeware. Recent versions of the
freeware ghostscript can also convert to PDF format. The user may also
have to specify the paper size as the actual paper size loaded in the
printer, not the paper size specified when the document was converted to
PDF or Postscript format.

It is also possible to edit the Postscript file, and add a scale command
to it, before sending it to the printer.

Method 2 can be more difficult for the recipient, who has to manage
these settings himself. However, manufacturers of printing software may
in the future make method 2 easier by making this service automatic,
perhaps controlled by a 'shrink to fit paper size' checkbox in the
printing window and a 'default shrink to fit paper size' preference
setting.

In general, the authors of this RFC recommend PDF as the prefered
formatted document distribution format over Postscript, not only because
PDF printing programs typically feature a 'shrink to fit' option to
handle different paper sizes elegantly, but also because PDF has built-
in per page data compression, PDF files can be displayed without being
fully downloaded, PDF is more portable, PDF has a better method of
rendering fonts not available in the printer and PDF allows to embed
URLs.

2.3   Method 3: Buy paper in the A4 size

People in North America who often need to print international documents
might choose to buy paper in the A4 size. It is available in the U.S.
from many large paper distribution companies, and almost all laser
printers support it.


3.    Acknowledgements

Markus Kuhn has provided many helpful suggestions on this document.


4.    References

Writing paper and certain classes of printed matter - Trimmed sizes - A
and B series, International Standard ISO 216, International Organization
for Standardization, Geneva, 1975.

Bond Papers and Index Bristols - Common Sheet Sizes, North American
National Standard ANSI X3.151, North American National Standards
Institute, 1987

Paper - Holes for general filing purposes - Specifications,
International Standard ISO 838, International Organization for
Standardization, Geneva, 1974.

Markus Kuhn: International Standard Paper Sizes. <URL:http://www.ft.uni-
erlangen.de/~mskuhn/iso-paper.html>.

Tim Bienz, Richard Cohn, James R. Mechan: Portable Document Format
Reference Manual, Version 1.2, Adobe Systems Incorporated,
<URL:http://www.adobe.com/supportservice/devrelations/PDFS/TN/PDFSPEC.PD
F>.


5.    Author's Address

Jacob Palme                          Phone: +46-8-16 16 67
Stockholm University and KTH         Fax: +46-8-783 08 29
Electrum 230                         E-mail: jpalme@dsv.su.se
S-164 40 Kista, Sweden


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