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Help with acrobat file creation?
Am on a pc, designer uses a mac. ack!?

 7:56 pm on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I need to put a pdf-format newsletter on a website for downloading. The designer of the newsletter just sent it to me and it's:
1. made on a mac
2. made from an illustrator file but it's two pages
3. uses some "exotic" fonts that I don't have (maybe just because I'm on a pc

What's the best strategy here?
For one thing, shouldn't they use "standard" fonts?



 8:12 pm on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

My understanding is that you can "embed" fonts in Acrobat regardless of platform. Although Illustrator files are the same as pdf (different extensions, same technology), the deigner may get better results by turning the fonts into paths, or else opening the document in Acrobat and converting and embedding the document from there.

Ok, I looked it up:

From Adobe [adobe.com]:
PDF is a universal file format that preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it.

Sounds like your designer screwed up somewhere.


 8:30 pm on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes, part of it is because the designer didn't realize thta she should incorporate the fonts when they're not standard ones, but I don't think she knows how best to create files for the web. The downloadable newsltetter weighs 600k+!
My understanding is that you can "embed" fonts in Acrobat regardless of platform.

Yes, but incorporated fonts weigh down the file, and since this is supposed to be downloadable, I don't think it's a good idea - this file uses about 8 different fonts! I'm thinking that regardless of the platform, it's probably better to use "standard" fonts such as arial or whatever the mac equivalent is. Can anyone help with this question?
the deigner may get better results by turning the fonts into paths

That would definitely be a good idea if the goal is to be sure the file looks the same everywhere; on the other hand, the file size will go wwaaaaay up!


 10:56 pm on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

You're on the right track. This is the internet and you're trying to convey information, not create artwork. Your main problem is that your newsletter is created by a "designer". That it's on a Mac makes no difference at all. I use a mac and create everything I need from brochures to websites including pdf's and newsletters. The solution is to treat it as a newsletter. Just about everyone has times, arial, verdana, etc. You can still have a clear format with a sense of design and make it a smaller file. I send out a monthly newsletter and try to keep it to one page. There are many threads here about useabilty on the net. I suggest you tell your designer what you need and ask them to create the newsletter from your parameters not theirs.


 11:50 pm on Apr 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ummm.... explain to the designer that the file size needs to come in at 50k or LESS. 2-3 fonts maximum, and use COMMON fonts like Arial, Times, etc. as suggested above. Images not over 144dpi resolution (72dpi is better).

That should shrink the file size considerably. If the designer can't do that, find a new designer.

Your main problem is that your newsletter is created by a "designer".

Nonsense. ;) I'm a designer. I can create a small, nice looking PDF when necessary. The main problem is that the designer doesn't seem to know the web from a hole in the ground.


 12:01 am on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Totally agree with you, mivox. It also helps to explain that a 144dpi file is about 4 times as much data as a 72 dpi file, not twice as much.

Designers who haven't worked with web materials just aren't used to thinking about file size, they only think about visual impact. But if they have are willing to listen, they catch on quick.

I worked with a designer who made a living doing PowerPoint presentations and creating rather amazing animations. His first animated gif for a website was several hundred kb. I explained a few approaches and showed him my version of his test file - I made a 12 kb file which looked almost identical to his.

He's now turning our excellent work (and his PowerPoint files are getting smaller, too.)


I don't know why exactly, but I've found recently that I can get much smaller pdf's when I convert to pdf from Word - instead from a PageMaker document. The same might be true for Quark - I can't say for sure.

Because Acrobat is used for setting up files for a print house, it can contain a whole lot of information that may not be needed for a simple web download and home printer. I'm guessing that Word never sets up that kind of data in the first place.


 12:38 am on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Apologies. I didn't mean to slam designers...or anybody else. I happen to be one also. But, as has been pointed out , there is a big difference between print and web. Load time and readibility is a critical factor in this medium. Anyway, good luck to all.


 6:01 am on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Many thanks to everyone for your replies. This helps a LOT!

Two questions remain for me:

1. What are the "common" fonts a on a mac that I should tell the designer to use? I'm on a pc, so yes, it's arial, times - what about on a mac?

2. She's making a two page newsletter using illustrator, and putting the whole thing in one .ai file. Wouldn't it make more sense for her to make two illustrator files to create the pdf?

Thanks again!


 6:58 am on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a PDF on my site.
Create it with Word+Acrobat Distiller: 60k, incl. embedded font
Create it with InDesign: 180k, incl. font.

Why? InDesign splits words into single characters. file is not google searchable. So: Try creating the file via Distiller. Other apps may tend to mess up things.



 7:25 am on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's bizarre. When I make pdf via InDesign, they're highly optimized, and definitely searchable - maybe check your settings?

You can check your pdf, if you have distiller, by opening the file in Acrobat, and clicking on Tools/Consultant/Check_use_of_space or whatever it is in English (I have a French distiller now).


 3:16 pm on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

The basic Mac fonts are the same. Verdana, arial, helvetica are sans-serif. Times, Times new roman are serif.


 6:41 pm on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Arial and Times are pretty much universal... But why is she doing this in Illustrator? That is entirely the wrong program to use for creating a compact, efficient text-based page...

Pagemaker or InDesign (or Quark if that's her flavor) would be much better choices.

Or, you can create an HTML document, and open it into Acrobat, and then save it as a PDF. Not as pretty as the layout apps' output though.


 7:28 pm on Apr 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

Many thanks again for all your answers! You've confirmed a few things that I was thinking, and taught me more. :)


 2:00 am on Apr 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

ok sounds like the problem is solved?

Couple of things. Illustrator is ok for pdf as long as the designer saves text as outlines, for non standard fonts, or as above by using standard fonts like Arial.

The designer will have to save each page as a seperate PDF file from "save as" under illustrator.

Open acrobat and add pages and interactivity there.

Thats all i do and i have made hundreds of pdf's.


 5:59 am on Apr 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

save each page as a seperate PDF file from "save as" under illustrator.
Isn't that a lot less efficient than Distiller? I mean, you have *very* few options for adjusting the compression, etc. In my experience, save as produces much bigger files than Distiller - but then, maybe I just don't know how to use Illustrator well enough! Also, saving text as paths makes for a pretty hefty file-size increase!

Thanks for confirming the one-page-per-file question. I really can't figure out how this designer made a two-page acrobat file from an Illustrator file that includes both pages side-by-side!


 5:08 pm on Apr 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

Additional question: is an .indd (Indesign) file cross-platfrom? If I make an Indesign template file with styles and all, will someone on a mac be able to open it in Indesign and have the template & styles all set up as I want them?


 6:27 pm on Apr 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've never had to use an Indesign file from a PC, but I know a psd (Photoshop) file can be opened with Photoshop on either Mac or PC, so I'd assume the same for InDesign (assuming the designer has all the fonts you specify!).


 7:22 pm on Apr 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi, I'm not a moderator or anything but to be honest I think its so much simpler than you guys think.

All I do when i save print stuff for the web is (Save for Web in Photoshop 7,) to your optimization preferences. Then open that up in PS& and save as a PDF. Granted some quality is lost but sometimes you have no choice.

Done like this all fonts will be embedded. Okay just thought i'd give u another option.

Robert Charlton

 3:06 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

use COMMON fonts like Arial, Times, etc.

This thread is making me worry about the pdf files that I've created. Precisely because some of the fonts I like to use are not very common, I've been converting some of my marketing materials, created in Word, to pdfs, assuming that this would preserve faces regardless of what's installed on a user's machine. Have I been wrong in this assumption? I always thought that pdfs were the universal format, independent of platform or installed fonts.


 3:33 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I always thought that pdfs were the universal format, independent of platform or installed fonts.

They CAN be... if you embed the fonts in the PDF file. However, if you want a small downloadable newsletter in PDF format (as the original poster specified), you don't want to bloat the file size with frilly fonts.

You can 'partially' embed a font, so you're not stuffing the entire alphabet in there when you've only used ten letters, but by and large it's best to use common fonts and leave the embedding alone when you want small file sizes.

(Mind you, I am a font addict, and it hurts to take my own advice there, so I create text images in Photoshop when I absolutely MUST have an odd font for a word or two.)


 4:12 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Each embedded font seems to add about 10kb to the file. So one thing we can do to keep the file size reasonable is not to use a large number of fonts when we create a PDF for web use. Using lots of fonts isn't very good design in most cases, so it's not too tough a restriction.

I've been doing a bit of research on this issue, because one of my clients requires a tightly formatted newsletter. Some of this information is probably well known to many, but I thought it would be good to put the information here.

Acrobat Reader includes a few basic fonts when it's installed. Adobe calls these the Base 14 fonts. You can count on these, so they don't need to be embedded:

- Courier (Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic)
- Arial MT (Regular, Bold, Oblique, and Bold Oblique)
- Times New Roman PS MT (Roman, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic)
- Symbol
- ZapfDingbats

Notice - no Helvetica! Also notice, Arial MT not plain-old Arial. Arial MT usually comes close enough, but I've heard that there can be notceable differences. When in doubt, I embed.

So what happens if you don't embed? There are two special fonts (Adobe Sans and Adobe Serif) that Acrobat uses as substitutes when a non-embedded font is called for but not present on the user's machine. The Acrobat engine stretches or compresses one of these fonts to ensure that the text in the document does not re-flow. But it can sure make for some pretty crude looking lines of text.

Robert Charlton

 5:19 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

They CAN be... if you embed the fonts in the PDF file.

Hmmm.... How do you know when you're doing that? I've been creating my PDFs by printing in Word 97 and selecting Distiller Assistant v3.0 as the printer driver. I am guessing that my FrizQuadrata BT isn't traveling very far.

Also, while we're on the subject, how do you control page breaks in PDFs? On a two-pager I've done (in Goudy OldStyle), the page break comes late... ie, I get an extra paragraph on the first page in the PDF... but if I try to change anything, like adding a few blank lines or changing margins or increasing font size slightly, I end up shortening the first page, and there doesn't seem to be anything in between. This is all on a PC, with docs originally created in Word.


 6:09 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

is an .indd (Indesign) file cross-platfrom?

InDesign files created on a Mac can be read on a PC and vice-versa. There are some minor issues with PC fonts vs Mac fonts but for the most part this is not a big issue.

InDesign is a great program - wish I had found it a while ago :).


 11:32 am on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Don't forget that in Mac OS X, any application can print to PDF. I use this feature to take "screen shots" of web pages and have found it really helpful.

If your designer is using Mac OS X, have them Print... and then Save As PDF.... I don't know what characteristics the resulting file will have, but it's definitely quick and cheap to try.


 6:20 pm on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is all on a PC, with docs originally created in Word.

Sorry... can't be much help there. For one thing, I'm on Mac. For another, I only use Word when I absolutely have to.

I had to convert 30+ pages of oversized images and irregular formatting from Word docs to PDF on a Windows box a while ago, and the only thing I remember specifically about it was that I had to re-install Acrobat once, got the Blue Screen of Death three times, spent 10x's as long on it as I would have with InDesign and Acrobat on my Mac, and never want to use that combination of software again (Word/Acrobat/Windows) again as long as I live.


But check your Distiller preferences and see if it has any options specifically relating to font handling...

nonprof webguy

 6:30 pm on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've faced a similar problem with publications that were designed by someone who was print-oriented and not at all experienced in designing publications for distribution via the web. If possible, I suggest that when you first sit down with a graphic designer you find out whether they have experience producing for the web, and specifically producing PDFs (if that's what you intend to do) -- otherwise, you can spend so much time fixing the problems and mistakes that result and going back and forth with the designer, that it adds significantly to the cost of the project.

I learned that it is essential to communicate up-front to the designer that the product will have two distribution formats: one commercially printed version, and one computer-printer printed version.

While most graphic designers are aware of the constraints and possibilities of commercial printing, I have found few who give any thought to the the computer-printer environment's requirements. So when you can't find a designer who's Internet-savvy, you can alternatively give them some guidelines for designing a publication that will ultimately be distributed as a PDF. A short selection from my rules of thumb:

1. Most computer printers can't print to the edge of the page, so "bleeds" will get chopped off. Typical printable margins for laserwriters and inkjets range from .25 to .4 inches.

2. Pages are single-sided and have no left or right page orientation. If repeated elements such as page numbers are utilized, remember that they must consistently appear on every page -- they cannot be, say, only on the odd pages that are the "right-hand" pages in a commercially-printed publication.

3. Printers may be grayscale or color, so the publication should be readable and attractive when printed either way. Beware of putting text in colors that render too light to be readable on non-color printers. Beware also of color screens behind text that render too dark on non-color printers and make the text unreadable.

4. If the publication is likely to be printed, 300 dpi is usually good enough resolution; you are not just designing for 72 dpi screens.

There's also the excellent point made above about using standard fonts like Times and Arial when a distinctive font is not necessary. That can keep the file size down since those common fonts don't need to be embedded in the PDF.

What other advice would you give a designer about preparing products for distribution as PDFs?


 6:51 pm on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Many thanks again for everyone's comments!

As for making pdf's from Word, it totally depends on what software you're using. If it's one of the cheap progs now available, well, "you get what you pay for." If it's Acrobat, then avoid using the "buttons" that Acrobat adds to the Word menu bar, and use print, and choose acrobat. Then, if you click on properties, you can choose which setting you'd like, and even fine-tune it if you like.


 6:57 pm on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

What other advice would you give a designer about preparing products for distribution as PDFs?

Explore the distiller options. Make sure that the PDF output is set to optimize for 72 dpi images; and also that the output is not set for print. Acrobat can output files for use for printing and output files suitable for the web. The difference in file size can be an order of 400kb for print and 47kb for web.


 7:15 pm on Apr 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

When importing bitmap images into Indesign, does it matter at all what their size/format is? I mean if I import a big image and scale it down, or scale it down beforehand in photoshop, will the acrobat export be the same?


 7:35 am on Apr 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

On fonts and the Mac: OS X can read Windows fonts natively, so if they don't have the fonts you want you can just send it to them. (The fonts you mentioned *should* be installed by default, tough, but I'm not at my Mac right now to verify.)

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