How to set resolution for Illustrator & save as PDF

Written by matt durrant
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How to set resolution for Illustrator & save as PDF
Images in exported PDFs can be downsampled to reduce their resolution. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based graphics program for Windows and Mac OS X. It supports exporting images in Portable Document Format (PDF), preserving fonts, images, and layouts from the original document even when not viewed in Illustrator. PDF files can be viewed by anyone with the Adobe Reader software.

Bitmap images used in Illustrator documents are exported in PDFs at full resolution by default. For a smaller file size, you can use downsampling to reduce the resolution of images used in the exported PDF.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    Setting resolution and saving a PDF in Illustrator

  1. 1

    Open the document you want to export as a PDF in Adobe Illustrator. Click "File" from the menu, and then "Save As." The Save As window will appear.

  2. 2

    Type a filename for the exported PDF in the box next to "Save As." Select a location to save the file, and then select "Adobe PDF (*.PDF)" from the drop-down box next to "Format."

  3. 3

    Click "Save" and the PDF options window will appear. Click "Compression" in the left-hand pane to display the compression and downsampling options.

  4. 4

    Choose an interpolation method in the drop-down box beneath "Colour Bitmap Images" to reduce the resolution of images in the exported file. You can choose from "Average Downsampling," "Subsampling," and "Bicubic Downsampling." For best results, choose "Bicubic Downsampling."

  5. 5

    Enter the desired downsampling resolution in the box to the left of "ppi." For example, enter 72.

  6. 6

    Enter the minimum resolution for images to be downsized in the file in the box next to "for images above." For example, to resize all images above 300 ppi down to 72 ppi, the settings should read "72 ppi for images above 300 ppi."

  7. 7

    Repeat Steps 4 to 6 for "Grayscale Bitmap Images" and "Monochrome Bitmap Images" in the same window. Click "Save PDF."

Tips and warnings

  • "Average Downsampling" replaces areas of the image with an averaged colour taken from the pixels in each area.
  • "Subsampling" replaces areas of the image with the colour of the pixel in the centre of each area.
  • "Bicubic Downsampling" is slower but smoother and more precise than the other methods, using a weighted average for pixel colour.
  • Don't use downsampling if you plan to print the PDF in high quality.

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