The Ghent Workgroup (GWG) today releases a new specification to cater to the growing small format digital print segment. The new specification provides standardized guidelines for PDF file creation and quality control for the segment and has already been adopted by leading preflight vendors to enable rapid acceptance in today’s workflows.

In a recent Ghent Workgroup survey, digital print was identified as a key area missing good guidelines for the usage of PDF”, says Elli Cloots, Vice-Chair at the Ghent Workgroup and Senior Product Marketing Manager at EFI. The small format digital print segment is similar to traditional commercial print, but the methodologies and equipment used are different enough to require specific guidelines. “Having this new specification helps significantly to improve standardization, and thus the possibility for automation, in this growing segment”, continues Ms. Cloots.

The digital print specification is released under the umbrella of the Ghent Workgroup’s 2015 specifications, as it builds on the same principles. The specification describes the rules PDF files used for digital print should follow. Software and hardware vendors can then use the specification to finetune file creation and quality control in their workflows and output devices.

Due to the nature of digital print, the specification is significantly different from what is used in other segments such as offset printing or packaging. Rules focusing on overprint problems for example, have been significantly relaxed because the output devices in this market can handle those problems natively. The specification also sees relaxed image resolution checks, due to the nature of the work often printed in digital. Other requirements remain of paramount importance. These include PDF/X-4 compliance, basic PDF file integrity verification, ensuring overprinting white objects don’t disappear, all the way up to avoiding color shifts when using the wrong transparency blending color space. And of course, companies can always add additional requirements on top of what the Ghent Workgroup already suggests, but now there is a good set of base rules to build on.


The specification and application settings built from it, are available from the Ghent Workgroup web site. As is everything else created by the workgroup, they are available for free. To see which applications are compatible already, and download application settings, visit the Ghent Workgroup’s application settings page: If you are interested in reading the technical specification document, this too is available for free from the GWG site: