PDF/X Output Intents

ICC profiles are an important building block for color management and play an important role for describing output intents in the PDF/A, PDF/X and PDF/VT standards. The output intent specifies the intended printing process and paper type as described by a corresponding ICC profile. The profiles must be configured in the application creating the PDF/X documents. PDF/X allows only printer profiles as output intent (unlike PDF/A which also allows monitor profiles). The PDFlib Tutorial discusses the detailed requirements regarding different uses of ICC profiles as PDF/A and PDF/X output intent, for tagging images and for other purposes.

Please also see various PDFlib Cookbook topics related to ICC profile handling as well as creating PDF/X and PDF/A output.

Recommendations for selecting a PDF/X Output Intent

The PDF/X output intent should generally be specified by the print service provider who takes care of print production. If the print provider is unknown or cannot provide any recommendation regarding the output intent, you can use one of the output intent ICC profiles listed in the table below as a starting point. All profiles are linked to the primary download location at the organization which creates or maintains the profiles. In order to select a suitable profile you must know the type of printing process and paper.


CMYK PDF/X output intents for common printing processes and standards

printing process
EuropeNorth America

sheet offset printing or unknown CMYK printing process

(ISO 12647-2:2013)

(ISO 12647-2:2013)
GRACoL2006_Coated1v2.icc (CGATS TR006)

GRACoL2013_CRPC6.icc (CGATS21-2-CRPC6)


web offset printing same as for sheet offset
(see above)
SWOP2006_Coated3v2.icc (SWOP TR003)

SWOP2006_Coated5v2.icc (SWOP TR005)
gravure printing (magazine ads)PSR_*.icc (ISO 12647-4:2005)same as for web offset
(see above)
coldset web
offset printing (newspaper ads)
(ISO 12647-3:2013)

or older ISOnewspaper26v4.icc
(ISO 12647-3:2004)
same as for Europe (see left)
or older
SNAP 2007.icc (CGATS/SNAP TR002)


Additional Information and Download Sources of ICC profiles

The European Color Initiative (ECI) makes available CMYK ICC profiles for offset and gravure printing which have been created according to the ISO 12647-2:2013 standards. (Profile versions for older printing standards are also available):

An overview of US printing standards can be found at:

Adobe provides a comprehensive ICC profile package with CMYK profiles for US, European and Japanese printing standards. The package also includes several RGB profiles for display devices, but these cannot be used as PDF/X output intents since PDF/X (unlike PDF/A) allows only printer profiles as output intent. The ICC profiles in the Adobe package are also installed with many Adobe applications:

The International Color Consortium  (ICC) is the organization which develops and maintains the ICC profile format. While the ICC itself does not create profiles for public use, it maintains a registry of CMYK ICC profiles for a variety of standard printing conditions which have been submitted by organizations around the world:

GRACoL is an Idealliance committee responsible for the GRACoL and SWOP printing standards. CMYK profiles for these printing processes are available at:

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers WAN-IFRA is »the global organization of the world’s press«. They offer a CMYK profile for newspaper print according to ISO 12647-3:2013 which must be used by agencies and ad suppliers worldwide: