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Cannot stop Acrobat from embedding common fonts

New Here ,
Oct 15, 2016 Oct 15, 2016

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(Acrobat XI Pro): This problem comes and goes with various Acrobat updates, and mutates to different symptoms, but essentially, Acrobat insists on embedding common fonts in documents, and then not giving any means to remove them, resulting in excessive document size. The problem fonts can be seen in document properties, and preflight, but are NOT shown in 'optimize pdf'.  I have tried printing the document with all fonts on my system selected as 'never embed', and the 'rely on system fonts' check box in the print properties dialog checked or unchecked. Both of these worked at various Acrobat updates, but since the latest (11.0.18), NOTHING will remove these fonts (Arial is embedding i the document prompting this question, but different documents 'lose' different fonts)

Does anybody know how to get rid of these things?

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Acrobat SDK and JavaScript, Edit and convert PDFs

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Adobe Employee , Apr 19, 2019 Apr 19, 2019
It has been quite a while since this thread started or even had any activity. I thought it would be appropriate to provide an update from Adobe.The problem of fonts being unexpectedly embedded in a PDF file even if the joboptions explicitly requested that they not be embedded turns out to be due to the dramatic growth of some of the Windows systems fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman. For Windows 10, some of these fonts have over 4000 distinct glyph definitions supporting not only Western La...

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Adobe Employee ,
Oct 15, 2016 Oct 15, 2016

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Without having a sample original document, set of joboptions you are using, and the resultant PDF from the PDF creation as well as knowing exactly what method you are using to create the PDF file (for example, printing to the Adobe PDF PostScript printer driver instance under Windows, saving as Adobe PDF in Office, exporting PDF from InDesign, etc.), it is virtually impossible to know what is actually going on here.

Please provide more information and point us to the files.

However, one situation that could trigger such embedding is if you are using characters that are outside the standard Western Latin character set and that would likely cause problems rendering the PDF file with substitution fonts. An example would be if you used characters from Arial that are beyond the simple character sets of the original Helvetica or Arial fonts. If those particular glyphs are not embedded in the PDF file and the PDF file is viewed on a system with an older version of Arial, those characters simply won't display. Again, this is one possibility.

For the record though, not embedding fonts in a PDF file for purposes of space economy is not really recommended due to the number of problems encountered when trying to match fonts on a PDF file recipient's system with the font referenced but not embedded in a PDF file.

Again, more information and samples and we can try to assist you further.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Oct 16, 2016 Oct 16, 2016

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Thanks for the reply;

As stated in the original question, I have tried EVERY setting I can find in joboptions and elsewhere. With that said, I understand your desire to remove as much 'clutter' from the problem as possible. The following is a DropBox folder link:

Dropbox - Adobe

The folder contains three files:

1) A MS Word document containing the alpahabet upper and lower case, as well as common keyboard symbols. The text is in the Arial font, and repeated 4 times for standard, bold, italic, and bolditalic.

2) The resulting pdf created by using File-->Print-->Adobe pdf, with all default options (i.e., no additional clicks other than 'OK'

3)  A capture of the 'options' dialog box from the aforesaid pdf print process. Again, no changes to default sttings or custom joboptions are used.

As you will see, the pdf has the Arial font embedded, and it does not show up if you try to remove it with 'optimized pdf'.

I want to stress that this problem has annoyed me for YEARS now, and changes in severity and possibility of amelioration with various updates to Acrobat. Some things that have worked in SOME versions, but don't in 11.0.18, are; reprinting to pdf with various joboptions, selecting 'ALL' and copy/paste into a blank pdf which is saved [not save-as], and optimizing the resulting pdf, etc., etc....

What I would like would be a selection to simply REMOVE embedded fonts. I understand the concerns you outlined in your reply, but I look at that as another case where the developer 'saves me from myself'. You might as well make font selection unavailable at all, so someone doesn't accidentally substitue a cyrillic font in a roman font document. Let me make my own mistakes. The 'cure' is often worse than the disease!

Again, thanks for your quick reply, and sorry if I seem a little snarky....

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Adobe Employee ,
Oct 16, 2016 Oct 16, 2016

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Got your files and will look them over during the next few days.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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Adobe Employee ,
Oct 16, 2016 Oct 16, 2016

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Actually, I was so curious, that I just ran some experiments, creating PDF from your Microsoft Word document using two different methods. And I tried the same experiment on three different systems (one with Windows 7 Pro x64 and Office 2016, another with Windows 7 Pro x64 and Office 2013, and the third with Windows 10 Pro x64 with Office 2016.

In the first case, I created PDF by using the Acrobat DC Pro plug-in to Word 2016, set the joboptions to Standard (which explicitly request that none of the Arial family be embedded), and saved as Adobe PDF.

The results were are displayed in the attached file, Embedded Arial example - Dov - PDFMaker - Standard.pdf. No fonts were embedded.

In the second case, I created PDF via distillation of PostScript, printing to the Adobe PDF PostScript Printer Driver instance, a method that hasn't changed in numerous Acrobat releases, also using the Standard joboptions. I tried both with and without the Rely on system fonts only option checked and unchecked – no difference in results!

The results were are displayed in the attached file, Embedded Arial example - Dov - AdobePDF - Standard.pdf. No fonts were embedded.

Why are my results different that yours? Honestly I don't really know.

It is possible that the direct PDF export from Word via PDFMaker changed from Acrobat 11 to DC, but that wasn't what you were using anyway (although that is the recommended method of generating PDF from Office these days)!!    And as far as I know, that portion of the code did not change at all.

For printing to AdobePDF as you did, I absolutely know that this part of Acrobat did not change from Acrobat 11 to DC! And that is what is so puzzling.

I note that for your resultant PDF file, the problem is only with the regular and bold faces of Arial and not with italic and bold italic faces of Arial. I'm wondering if somehow you have either modified versions of Arial on your system or multiple, differing copies of these fonts installed that is somehow causing Distiller to not properly match the regular and bold faces with those in the list of fonts to not be embedded?

FWIW, on my primary test system, my Arial faces are as follows:

          Arial Regular          Version 5.22     774,236 bytes, 3421 glyphs

          Arial Italic               Version 5.22     557,508 bytes, 2556 glyphs

          Arial Bold               Version 5.22     750,596 bytes, 3421 glyphs

          Arial Bold Italic       Version 5.22     563,244 bytes, 2556 glyphs         

Bottom line is that on this, I am stumped.   The good news is that the issue doesn't cause rendering issues; the bad news is that the file is a bit larger than you want and not up to your expectations (I do respect that)!

If anyone else has seen this issue and can provide more input and evidence as to what's going on with the fonts, it would be most appreciated.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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Adobe Employee ,
Apr 19, 2019 Apr 19, 2019

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It has been quite a while since this thread started or even had any activity. I thought it would be appropriate to provide an update from Adobe.

The problem of fonts being unexpectedly embedded in a PDF file even if the joboptions explicitly requested that they not be embedded turns out to be due to the dramatic growth of some of the Windows systems fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman. For Windows 10, some of these fonts have over 4000 distinct glyph definitions supporting not only Western Latin characters sets, but also Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew plus extensive symbols. In the early days of Acrobat, they had less than 256 such distinct definitions. It turns out that Acrobat Distiller has a hard-coded limit of 4000 glyph definitions in a font; anything over 4000 glyph definitions forces embedding for that font (typically subsetted) in the resultant PDF file. The assumption was that such a large font was likely a font supporting an Asian language (CJK – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) and that we needed to have that font embedded. Ironically, most such CJK fonts typically have well over 16000 distinct glyph definitions.

A fix will be put into place that will likely be available with Acrobat DC (and possibly Acrobat 2017) no later than November 2019 in which that glyph limit will be raised four-fold to 16000. That should suffice for virtually all non-CJK system fonts. (It will not be retrofitted to Acrobat 11 or earlier!)

That having been said, best professional practice is to always subset-embed fonts referenced within a PDF file to avoid problems of either a font not being installed on a recipient's system or that the font installed on the recipient's system has a different glyph complement or encoding resulting in errors in file display and/or printing. In recognition of this, Adobe changed the Standard joboptions in a recent release of Acrobat DC such that all fonts are always subset-embedded. The increase in PDF file size is a very small penalty to pay for reliable text rendering on any target system.

I will be closing this thread, but if anyone has further questions or concerns with regards to this issue, please feel free to contact me via private message on these forums.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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