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Outline fonts in PDF (I know, I know!)

Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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I am having a tedious argument with an 'expert' who is making what to me are nonsensical claims about PDF. While I don't consider my PDF knowledge lacking, I rarely stray into the fog of standards, color conversion, etc. at the complex end of things, so I am not sure of a few things.

 

First, he claims that "All Word save as PDF actions outline the text." To me, this is sheer nonsense; I just exported several pages using different Word/MS Office modes and can't even find a "convert to outlines" option. Comments?

 

Also, while casting around for information, I came across this "blogspert" post:
https://updf.com/edit-pdf/pdf-to-outline/

 

Is it just me, or is this almost complete nonsense? especially for a 2024 post?


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋
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Community Expert , May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

- Anyone who claims something like that is no "PDF expert", to be polite.

- That article is pure nonsense. Each one of the sentences in the first paragraph is totally wrong, so I didn't bother reading further.

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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- Anyone who claims something like that is no "PDF expert", to be polite.

- That article is pure nonsense. Each one of the sentences in the first paragraph is totally wrong, so I didn't bother reading further.

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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If you really want to outline the text in your PDF file (which you shouldn't do, as it's very inconsiderate for the viewer, since they won't be able to scale it properly any longer, or search it, export it, etc.), there's a built-in Preflight command that will do it in seconds for you. The entire process described in that article is totally unnecessary.

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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Oh, I need no advice on that point. The entire business of outlining fonts at any level, other than to make them editable graphic elements in Illustrator, is at very best a decade out of date. Over in InDesign we frequently get newer users who are trying to comply with printer demands to submit outlined PDFs; the universal solution is "Find a new printer."

 

But the whole amateur-publishing, EPUB, Kindle, kitchen-table crowd has it in their rusty toolbox and insists on its value in "fixing the crappy output of those apps." I was just surprised to read this particular bit of nonsense, since I haven't seen a way to get outlined output from Word in... generations.


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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The fault in such cases is usually with the viewer application, which can't handle PDF files correctly. So they convert them to images ("outline" them) so that they at least show up half-decently on those low-res e-Ink screens. There's no other real reason to do it, though.

And we here also advise people to switch printers when they get such requests from them. A printer shop that can't handle PDF files is not to be trusted.

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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Yep and yep. Over in InDesign, there's a post a day where someone's created an elaborate interactive PDF that just won't work on their iPhone or their boss's browser. It's surprising how many, even among well-experienced designers and Adobe users, don't realize that PDF is a sloppy, erratically-implemented standard outside of the Adobe loop. I don't remember the last time I read a "PDF is crap!" post that didn't trace directly to using either third-party tools or viewers. But Foxit and Chrome's failings are the sins of Adobe, of course. 🙂


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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Thanks for the confirmation; I am *just* unsure enough of advanced PDF topics to have wanted to make sure I wasn't stepping in my own ignorance.

 

The authority in question is over in the KDP forums and is generous with his expertise, all of which seems to have been derived from pre-2010 versions of Adobe and other software. This is a world where "everyone knows you have to outline your PDFs to get around how crappy they are." Sigh.

 

(Also a world where InDesign is either "overkill" or "not good for anything." Sigh and sigh again.)


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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This wasn't true before 2010, either. In fact, it goes against the very core idea of PDF files where the text is vector-based so it can be displayed properly on any device, independent of screen resolution, monitor size and font availability.

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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I know that as well; I've been around the publishing and printing game since, well, not quite hand-carved lead type, but close. But until maybe 2010  — maybe earlier — there were still printers, RIPs and processes that worked better/at all with outlined fonts, especially if the printer didn't share the same faces etc. It was a bad practice even then but not as completely avoidable as today.

 

But then, I can't think of many apps/platforms/processes that are buried in more mountains of outdated info, misunderstanding and flat-out BS than PDF. Even among people who should know better. It's an uphill slog.


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024

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In French we call this kind of article "un tissu de conneries".
I'll leave you to find the translation, otherwise my post would be censored. 😉

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