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Embedded Fonts

PDF stands for Portable Document Format and one of the most important elements of its portability is the fact that a PDF carries its own fonts. Generally, every PC and Mac will have a set of common fonts, so when we create a word document in Arial font we can be reasonably sure that the recipient has the same font. Issues start occurring however when we start using more exciting fonts or use the extended character set.

Fonts A font is simply a list of numbers from 1 to 256 which have an assigned pattern. When you press the letter ‘a’ the computer actually sees the number 97, a capital ‘A’ is number 65. The font is the additional information that turns the ‘a’ into different character designs of ‘a’. It does not stop there; some fonts like Wingdings actually show small graphics for each character, so ‘q’ in Wingdings is a very nice shaded tick box. Most fonts are also Vector images, which means you can expand or shrink them (font size) as much as you like

Extended Character Set A normal keyboard has the a-z, 0-9 and other keys like space and punctuation, but then you have the shift key which changes them all, for simplicity let’s say there are 100, but there are 256 different number options. For PC users, you can run a program called Character Map, Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools / Character Map; this will show you all the options. The issue with these characters is they are less consistent across the fonts, so even if two users have an ‘Arial’ type font, the extended characters might not match, instead you might just see a square where the character should be.

Fonts in PDFs If a PDF is saved without its Fonts, any text in the PDF will have the correct font name assigned to it. The PDF will look perfect on the computer it was created on, because that computer must have the required fonts. When the PDF is moved to a different computer (or printer) it might or might not have the correct fonts, if it does fine, if not it will try to match another font – and suddenly the PDF will change: lines will over run, text might run into images and you might see odd characters or boxes where the original text was. The most common statement with PDFs is “It looks fine on my computer” – it would – you have all the fonts.

The Solution – Embed All Fonts The solution is easy; you can embed all the fonts with the PDF. If you make this choice ALL required fonts will be embedded into your PDF – you don’'t have to select any. This also has very little effect on the size of a PDF, a decent JPG image can easily be 1MB, and a font is only around 200 KB. One other way of getting around this, is to not have any fonts at all, just graphics. Many graphic packages have a ‘convert to curves’ option. This is a one way ticket that allows you to convert all fonts to graphics, this will guarantee correct output, but the downside is that the objects are not text – so you can edit them with a text editor.

How do I embed fonts?

1. Create your PDF as normal (File> Print > choose a Printer e.g. Adobe PDF> Select Printing Properties)
2. Go to Adobe PDF Settings tab > Default Settings> Select Standard > Edit
3. Go to Fonts tab > tick Embed all fonts, Save and finish converting format to PDF

If you are using MS Word

1. While converting your Word document to PDF select following settings (File>Print > choose your PDF driver > Select Printing Properties> Advanced> TrueType Fonts: "Download as Softfont")