1.) Creating a PDF for Print Production (Mac):
If you are using InDesign, the 'File > Adobe PDF Presets > PDF/X-1a:2001 creates a wonderful PDF directly from InDesign. For any other software, including Quark, please follow the directions below.
The first step in creating a successful PDF is creating your postscript file (.ps). PDFs can be created also by creating an EPS of your file by selecting the 'save as' function available in many programs and either saving as an EPS or exporting as an EPS and then coverting through Adobe Distiller. None of the EPS methods are fool-proof, however and many times result in font-issues within the PDF.
When Acrobat is installed on your machine (Mac), by default an 'Adobe PDF 8.0' (or 9.0 or 10.0 depending on your version) becomes available in the Print & Fax settings under System Preferences. This option is available for those of us who may not have access to a Postscript Printer. You will need to select this Printer in your settings.
With your document open, select print. The Document tab should be at the forefront. Leave the print style as default. If your document has a bleed, enter the amount generally in inches ex.: .125" for 1/8" bleed. Turn off registration so that no printer marks appear on the pdf. Click the Setup tab. The printer description should be Adobe 8.0. Set your document print size at 8.5 x 11 for magazine size (to accommodate your 1/8" bleed which adds up to .25" total). Example: if your document is 8.25" x 10.75", then set the print size at 8.5" x 11" and also select center. Change orientation accordingly for portrait or landscape. Select the Output tab. Print colors should be on Composite CMYK, Halftoning set to conventional, Resolution 1200, Frequency 100. If your product is to be printed on gloss, select Resolution 2400, Frequency 150. Under the Options tab, leave all at their defaults. If you click the Preview tab, you should be able to see your page orientation. If the blue line that represents your documents printable area falls beyond the white box, which represents your actual paper size in Distiller, you need to adjust your orientation (landscape/portrait), or maybe the page size is wrong.
Now that you've covered all the above steps, you're ready to print to file. Click the 'Printer' button at the bottom of the print dialog box. Make sure that the next dialog box that pops up says 'Printer: "Adobe PDF 8.0", then select 'PDF > Save PDF as Postscript' (select where to save your file, and name the file), then click 'Save'. This window will disappear, then on the remaining window click 'Print'.
2.) Acrobat Distiller
For several years now Adobe has provided fantastic PDF settings within the Distiller program itself. The setting we generally tell people to use is the PDF/X-1a:2001. It gives us great PDFs and will not allow a PDF to be created from your postscript file if there is anything wrong with it, such as RGB, etc.
Launch Distiller and on the main screen, you'll see a drop down menu. Select 'PDF/X-1a:2001' and then drag your postscript file into the Distiller window. Distiller should then create a PDF from your file. If the file fails, be sure to look at the log window (main program window) and see what the errors are. Many times the failure is the result of RGB files.
Once your PDF has been created, open it in Acrobat and make sure it was created to your liking. If not, check your original file and your Job Settings to confirm that there are no errors.
Thanks to Adobe.com, further assistance for creating pdf's can be found on their website at the following links.
The information provided in their ebooks (pdfs) covers both the Mac and PC platforms as well as almost all the major desktop/creative software used in the industry.