Is Helvetica a Type 1 font in Acrobat and Reader DC? Is it being removed in 2023?

New Here ,
Mar 10, 2021 Mar 10, 2021

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My company publishes many forms, and all of the form fields currently use Helvetica. I use Helvetica since it's my understanding this is a base font in Reader so I don't have to embed it in the form which keeps the file size down and so the user sees the font I want them to see. The Helvetica on my system right now is a Type 1 font.

 

With Type 1 support ending in 2023, will there be a new version of Helvetica in Acrobat DC and Acrobat Reader DC?  If not, what will the base fonts be in 2023 so I can choose something else? Is Helvetica already something other than Type-1 in Acrobat DC and Acrobat Reader DC?

 

Thanks 

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Adobe Employee , Mar 10, 2021 Mar 10, 2021
To clear up a misconception, Acrobat is absolutely not ending support of Type 1 fonts. Type 1 fonts are an integral part of both the PDF and PostScript specifications. Thus, the 2023 announcement doesn't affect Acrobat (or Reader)!!! Note however, that the Helvetica Type 1 (or any other format for that matter) font family is not bundled with either Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat (and hasn't been since Acrobat 4 many years ago). If Adobe Reader or Acrobat encounters a reference to an unembedded ...

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Adobe Employee ,
Mar 10, 2021 Mar 10, 2021

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To clear up a misconception, Acrobat is absolutely not ending support of Type 1 fonts. Type 1 fonts are an integral part of both the PDF and PostScript specifications. Thus, the 2023 announcement doesn't affect Acrobat (or Reader)!!!

 

Note however, that the Helvetica Type 1 (or any other format for that matter) font family is not bundled with either Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat (and hasn't been since Acrobat 4 many years ago). If Adobe Reader or Acrobat encounters a reference to an unembedded Helvetica font in a PDF file and if there is no Helvetica of any format installed on one's system (MacOS has a TrueType version of the Helvetica font family bundled with the operating system), the system Arial font (same font metrics including character widths, slightly different design) is automatically used as a substitute.

 

A similar situation exists with Times Roman. The system Times New Roman fonts (same font metrics, slightly different design) are used in lieu of Times Roman.

 

A further note. Although Microsoft has discontinued support of Type 1 fonts in Microsoft Office on Windows, no announcement has been made by Microsoft vis-a-vis any elimination of Type 1 font support in Windows. Likewise, Apple has made no such announcement.

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Mar 11, 2021 Mar 11, 2021

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Thanks Dov, I didn't expect anyone would reply and certainly not this quickly. Just so I'm clear on it, in 2023:

 

  • PDFs previously created using type 1 fonts for text will continue to display the type 1 fonts as normal in Acrobat and Reader.
  • Helvetica type 1 on my computer will no longer be available to create or edit documents in apps such as InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I won't be able to use it to style paragraphs or write new text.
  • However, when I use Acrobat to add form fields, my Helvetica Type 1 will still be a choice when setting the form field font in the text field properties window. Meaning I won't have to change all of my form fields in every form to a different font by 2023. (This is my main concern regarding type 1 no longer being supported.)
  • Reader does not have built-in fonts, so I don't need to choose one based on this to keep the file size down. (I've come across "base-14", "standard 14", and "safe" fonts a few times, although the latest information I found was from 2016 so maybe these aren't available anymore.)

 

Thanks for your help with this!

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Mar 11, 2021 Mar 11, 2021

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A bit of explanation about Helvetica in form fields is in order, as it has a special "magic".

 

When originally designed form fields could use Helvetica (and a few other faces like Times Roman), in type 1 format. These were not embedded, and COULD NOT BE embedded. Fonts just had to work with these forms. And PDF readers always have, whether or not they actually have Helvetica. Typically, they will use Arial or some other substitute font, but still not embedded!

 

Later, PDF forms were changed to allow other fonts. The fonts are embeded, and MUST BE embedded. The magic position of Helvetica remains, and you will notice it is at the top of the forms list in Acrobat's form editor. There are significant advantages to making forms with these (non-embedded) fonts which look like Helvetica, and I generally recommend using these fonts if you can. It might be better if the original PDF design had called this "Generic Magic Sans Serif" rather than "Helvetica". Too late now!

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Adobe Employee ,
Mar 13, 2021 Mar 13, 2021

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@jonh4806236 

 

You should be fine.

 

One thing to note, however, is that Helvetica is a fine font to use as long as you don't need characters outside of the Western Latin character set. As such, Arial would probably be a much better choice if you have the possibility of use of Eastern European, Cyrillic, Arabic, Farsi, or Hebrew character sets for example.

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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