Cascadilla Press header

FAQ: Publishing PDF files

This page list some tips that we have figured out in the course of preparing dozens of PDF files for publication, either as book masters or for CD-ROM. All answers assume that you are using the full version of Acrobat 4 to distill PostScript files to PDF format.

What should you check in a PDF file before you publish it?

1. Open the file and turn the "use local fonts" option off.
1. Make sure that the page numbers on each page of the file are correct.
2. Check under Document Info / Fonts to see which fonts are embedded.
3. Add any fonts which are not embedded, except the standard fonts like TimesNewRoman.
4. Check that standard fonts like TimesNewRoman are not embedded, except as subsets.
5. If any TrueType fonts are embedded, export the file to PostScript and redistill it.
6. Print the file with "use local fonts" still turned off. Check this printout against a hard copy proof approved by the author.

Should I select "Acrobat 3" or "Acrobat 4" compatibility?

PDF files are a bit more robust if you select Acrobat 3 compatibility. However, that will not work if you have CID fonts embedded in the file -- you must select Acrobat 4 compatibility in that case.

Should all fonts in a file be included in a PDF file?

All fonts need to be included in a PDF file for best results, except for the standard fonts that come with every copy of Acrobat Reader such as Times New Roman and Arial. Including these in the PDF file is unnecessary, makes the file larger, and can cause printing problems in some cases. You can remove particular fonts by exporting to PostScript (PS) and redistilling the file, with the fonts you want to exclude listed in the appropriate section of the job options.

Are embedded TrueType fonts in a PDF file a problem?

Yes, these can cause printing problems in some cases (such as when printing to an early Harlequin RIP or some HP LaserJet printers). Fortunately, exporting a PDF file to PostScript can convert TrueType fonts to PostScript format. When you redistill the file to PDF format, the fonts will be in PostScript format.

While most of the time this round-trip from PDF to PostScript and then back to PDF works fine, occasionally a font may change its encoding and no longer display correctly. This can sometimes be solved by exporting to PostScript from Acrobat 5 instead of Acrobat 4, and then redistilling the file into PDF using Distiller 4.

How can you embed a font in an existing PDF file which doesn't currently have the font embedded?

Export the file to PS and redistill the file, with the font you want embedded specified in the "always embed" list of the job options. The font must be identical in name to the one used in the file. If there is a slight name variation, read the next answer.

How can you exclude a font which you don't have?

This should only be an issue for the standard fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial. Any other font should be embedded in the PDF file, because you cannot guarantee that the recipient of the file will have the font. The question applies when you have put "TimesNewRomanPS-ItalicMT" into the "always exlude" list of the job options, but the file contains "TimesNewRoman,Italic". Acrobat does not know that these fonts are the same. What you have to do is change the name of the font in the PS file.

The way to do this is to export the file to PS (ASCII format), and modify the PostScript file in a word processor such as BBEdit. (MS Word will try to interpret it as a PostScript file, rather than opening it as text.) Find all occurrences of "TimesNewRoman,Italic" and change them to "TimesNewRomanPS-ItalicMT". If the font name is more like "HIHLAF+TimesNewRoman,Italic", then the font is embedded as a subset and should not be excluded. Once you are done, save the file as a text file, and redistill it to PDF.

If you have Fontographer, you can also simply make a new font with the name that you want to exclude, and then add that font to the "always exclude" list of the job options. There is a snag on the Mac, though, which is that Acrobat 4 ignores commas in font names on the Mac in the job options (though not when distilling files). So there is no way to avoid modifying the PS file and still exclude fonts with commas in their names.

When I export my PDF file to PostScript (PS) and redistill it, why does my cropping disappear?

Rotating pages and cropping pages only affects the display of the PDF file. If you export the PDF file to PostScript, pages will revert to their original uncropped and unrotated state.

Home   FAQ   Shopping cart   Order form

© 2004 Cascadilla Press, P.O. Box 440355, Somerville, MA 02144, USA
1-617-776-2370 * fax 1-617-776-2271 *