Embedding Fonts in PDFs using Acrobat Distiller

One of the main benefits of saving your document as a PDF is that it will appear the same on each person's computer when they view your document. They don't need to have the same program on their computer as you used to create the document. They don't even need to have the same fonts loaded on your computer because in most cases you can embed the actual fonts that your document uses into the PDF itself. Anyone with a copy of the free Acrobat reader can view your document the way you intended it to look.

One method of converting your document into a PDF is to use Acrobat distiller. The option for selecting which fonts to embed in your document is found in the Job Options screen which can be accessed via the option within the Settings menu of Acrobat distiller. Before you select this option you need to first look at the Job Options drop down box that appears at the top of the distiller screen and select the job type that you either want to update or use as a basis for the new job type that you intend to create.

Accessing the Job Options screen via the menu

You can then get to the font setup screen by clicking on the font tab at the top of the Job Options screen. This screen gives you the option of either embedding all fonts or only some (usually you can rely on at least some fonts being commonly available and therefore you should only need to embed all fonts in rare circumstances). You also get an option of embedding only a subset of any fonts where less than a set percentage of characters of that font are used in your document. Setting these options as shown below will make for minimizing the space taken up in your file by embedded fonts.

The Job Options Font screen

Finally, the main portion of this screen is made up of lists of fonts that are available to be embedded (several different lists selectable from a drop down box). A list of fonts that should always be embedded (that you can add to by selecting from the first list and then clicking on the >> button) and another similar list of fonts that should never be embedded. It is also possible for you to attempt to add fonts not listed to either of these lists using the Add Name button but in this instance you need to be prepared to have your request rejected if the font that you select is not allowed to be embedded (if this happens check if there is a similar font that is able to be embedded as you might be able to convert the text to use that font without noticeably affecting the appearance of the document - eg. by substituting Dolphin for Dauphin). You can also remove fonts from these lists by selecting the font and clicking the Remove button.

The final step in setting up which fonts should (and shouldn't be embedded) is to click on the Save As button and then either select to overwrite the existing job definition or create a new one with a different name.

Once you have created a definition that embeds specific fonts you can use it to create documents with those fonts embedded by selecting the appropriate Job Options from the drop down box on the distiller screen before you select Open from the File menu in order to select the postscript file that you wish to convert to a PDF.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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