Recently I was investigating the use of PDF files when sending artwork to print (at a print shop or house.) Historically I was having trouble ensuring consistent quality and functionality from the PDF, ie, elements within the artwork would not print properly or would not print at all (even though they were visible on screen in the PDF). Working mostly in Adobe InDesign, I was exporting to PDF for digital printing; for traditional offset printing, I was still sending the InDesign file, fonts and included images to the printer.
After a particularly troublesome file (the cover of an Annual Report for a London charity), I did some rather extensive online research into the matter. The solution to my PDF’ing woes? PDF/X-1a! Yes, indeed, when exporting to PDF from Adobe InDesign CS2, the best option for quality printing is PDF/X-1a. Whether it is a simple two colour business card or a double-sided full colour fold out map, you can still use the PDF/X-1a for your output. Here’s a great site from which to read further: learn more about PDF to print production at Pass4Press.