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How to Save on Printing Costs by Creating a Print-Ready PDF

SEC Reporting
An open book
5 min read
Vincent Patane
Vice President of Operations, Corporate Issuer Solutions
Published: September 1, 2020
Last Updated: August 16, 2023

This is a guest post from Vincent Patane, Vice President, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

As more companies look to manage their investor communications and SEC filings with a self-service platform, creating a print-ready document in some of those systems remains a challenge. Companies are faced with the choice of “printing as is,” which can mean wide margins, inconsistent fonts, and other formatting issues—which, in turn, may lead to additional print costs—or spending substantial amounts of time and money traditionally typesetting the document after it has been filed. 

A Practical Guide to Creating Print-Ready Documents with Workiva

In fact, by following a few simple guidelines, it is possible to generate a print-ready PDF out of the Workiva platform. Is this the right option for you? I’ll review your other choices later. First, let’s explore what’s involved in creating your print-ready document directly with Workiva.

Download checklist here



In order to make your document look professional and, more importantly, easy to read, you should use a limited number of fonts consistently. Using multiple fonts can be a distraction and complicate the information. Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana are the most used fonts and translate well both for printing and filing. Make sure that your fonts are also used consistently for heads, subheads, and body copy throughout the document.

When setting up your document, you need to decide how you want the copy to align. The two most common alignments in typography are “fully justified,” where the copy aligns on both the left and the right margins, and “ragged right,” which means your copy is aligned along the left margin but not along the right. Choose one, and stick with it.

Pay close attention to the format of your tables, especially in terms of spacing, formatting of percentages, column alignment, row alignment, line items (any labels in a financial table), and dot leaders (the dots that follow labels in financial tables). These should be used consistently throughout. A quick look at your print-ready PDF will help you identify and fix any issues.

For the SEC filing version of your document, you can use low-resolution JPG, PNG, and GIF files. However, for your printed document, graphics must be at least 300 dpi. To avoid double work, we recommend that you always supply graphics that are at least that resolution. Otherwise, they will need to be provided separately to your financial printer for insertion, adding time and cost to production.

It is important to note that Workiva will automatically convert colors to RGB. However, documents are printed using four-color processing (also referred to as CMYK). Prior to printing, make sure you select the four-color process option in Workiva. Review your PDF for color variations, and fix any inconsistencies before sending the file to your financial printer. 

Print panel in the Workiva platform

Most fonts offer at least two kinds of dashes: an en dash (–), which is the width of a lowercase “n,” and an em dash (—), which is the width of a lowercase “m.” These should not be confused with the hyphen (-), which isn’t a dash at all. It’s a punctuation mark. Be careful to use dashes consistently.

We recommend you keep it simple. The standard page size for documents in the U.S. is 8.5 x 11 inches with a professional published margin of .688 left and right, and .594 top and bottom. If you would like to use a larger margin, it should not exceed 1 inch. Setting correct margins from the outset means you won’t print—or pay for—the printing of additional pages caused by excessively wide margins.

To create a professional-looking document, it’s always best to single space your document and avoid widows and orphans. A widow occurs when the last line in a paragraph falls on to the beginning of the following page or column and is therefore separated from the rest of the text. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph appearing by itself at the bottom of a page or column and is therefore separated from the rest of the text.

A subscript or superscript is a character that is set slightly below or above the normal line of type, respectively. It is usually smaller than the rest of the text. Subscripts appear at or below the baseline, while superscripts are above. You will typically see these associated with footnotes. Make sure subscripts and superscripts are the same font and size throughout.

I can’t stress this enough. Print a PDF early and often to check the formatting is correct. What you see on the PDF—not what you see on screen—is how the printed book will look. The time to make corrections is while you are still in the Workiva platform. Otherwise, your printer will have to spend time cleaning up your PDF in a PDF editor, which will add time and cost to your project.

If this feels like more work than you have the time or resources to spend or if your company’s documents include a high degree of design and customization, then you may prefer to engage a financial printer to take care of the print preparation for you. Through the Broadridge partnership with Workiva and our integrated platforms, we can easily design, format, print, and mail your documents. (You can even submit documents to Broadridge from the Workiva platform.)

As a third alternative, our team at Broadridge can go into your Workiva document on your behalf and fix the document. While this is not as efficient as taking care of the formatting at the outset, it can be helpful when you are facing a hard deadline and the PDF doesn’t look right.

In summary, getting your document as near to perfect as you possibly can while in the Workiva platform can save you money, but it will also require some investment in time. I recommend that you consider the options available to you and choose the one that will best fit your resource allocation, budget, and timeline. As always, my team is available to help guide you through this decision. 

About the Author
Vincent Patane Headshot
Vincent Patane

Vice President of Operations, Corporate Issuer Solutions

Vincent Patane, Vice President of Operations, Corporate Issuer Solutions, joined Broadridge in September 2019. Vincent has over 20 years of financial print experience with specific expertise in SEC compliance, capital markets transactions, and XBRL filing. Before joining Broadridge, he was the Chief Operations Officer for Alacrity Solutions. He previously served in various leadership roles at Bowne and DFIN.

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