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Exporting interactive pdf (form) with fully embedded font

Community Beginner ,
Aug 30, 2021 Aug 30, 2021

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Hi there,

 

I´m creating a pdf form from InDesign.

As soon I export it as an "Adobe PDF (interactive) (*.pdf)" the required fonts won´t be embedded fully but only a subset of them. When using it on another computer without that font available, typing in the form gives you a completely different font as a result.

 

If I use "Adobe PDF (print) (*.pdf)" it works as configured: With Font-Subset setting configured to 0% the font is fully embedded, but this setting is not available for the "interactive" export.

 

As a workaround, I changed the font for all text fields before exporting from InDesign. Afterward I changed it back to the desired font in Acrobat. As soon I save the PDF with at least one character typed in such a field, the font gets embedded fully automatically.

The problem wiht this is, that it only works if the font is not used anywhere else in the document when exporting. So if you need the same font for a fixed piece of text (not an interactive form field) somewhere in the document but for a form field as well, I´m stuck.

 

As the font in one case is of an Barcode-type (Code 39), it is crucial this works. It is not to be expected that this font will be available on the computers the form will be used at. Due to IT regulations at the company the font will also not be made available on these.

 

  • So is this a bug?
  • Why can´t the/all font(s) set to be embedded for interactive, but just for print pdf?
  • As InDesign is (in my opinion) the way more accurate and professional application for creating forms, why is there a difference to embedding fonts in Acrobat?
  • Is there already a way to embed the entire font easily that I maybe just don´t know of, maybe by help of a different tool?

 

(Just to clarify in advance, as the font can be embedded in Acrobat it seems obvious that the required permissions for embedding are available.)

 

Any help is highly appreciated, thanks.

 

André

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 30, 2021 Aug 30, 2021

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I would strongly recommend not to use other fonts for form fields than standard fonts. Fonts used in form fields must be complete available to all users who edit the forms:

 

  1.  Use the standard Acrobat fonts which are installed with all Acrobat Apps. This needs no embedding and it reduces the file size and the form will be compatible with all Acrobat versions and even some other readers.
  2. If you use it only local, as in a company you can additionally use the corporate fonts which are always available on any computer where this form is used.
  3. If you use some fance font and you want to use exactly this font you have to embedd it completely which has following problems:
    • The PDF file size may increase dramatically, depends on the size of the font.
    • Many fonts have tags which will hinder you to embedd the font complete and some even partially.
    • Some licences do not permit embedding, even if this is technically possible. Some do not permit embedding fonts for editing, which is necessary for forms. You could get letters from those fonts founderies with a high bill or from their attorneys with their fees if you use these fonts for forms.

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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Thanks for your reply.

 

All understood and mostly known.

The file size doesn´t really matter in this case (i. e. +3 to 4 MB when the Barcode-font is fully embedded by Acrobat is absolutely fine).

So if the font is licenced and got the coressponding permissions, I don´t see a problem using it.

But I get your point: "Be carefull and check the license properly."

 

Editing and filling a form is two very different things.

I don´t agree, that a user must have a font to be installed to fill in a form.

A form must always provide anything it needs to be filled by itself and should never rely on anything special to be installed additionally.

Basically the benefit of PDFs is to look exactly the same on any system. Why should this not apply to PDF forms?

 

As I wrote, the barcode font can´t be distributed for other (not licensing) reasons in the company.

There are also different locations of the company with their own restictions.

In an ideal world at least our normal corporate text-fonts would be available on all computers using the form - but in reallity they are not.

 

  • How can I create a barcode from the input filled in a form field inside a PDF?
  • Why is full font embedding possible in Acrobat and in InDesign using the PDF (print) export, but not using the PDF (interactive) export?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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quote

Editing and filling a form is two very different things.

By @André5E12

 

They are two forms of editing a PDF.

 

quote

I don´t agree, that a user must have a font to be installed to fill in a form.

 

Over the past 5+ years, Adobe and other font manufacturers have adjusted the way fonts are handled. Software has become more capable of "policing" the use of fonts.

 

Users have always needed to have the fonts on their system to do any type of editing, including filling in form fields and editing the actual content.

 

Viewing a PDF, however, only requires that the font be embedded into the PDF. And when it's not embedded, Acrobat uses one of their standards fonts that's installed with all versions of Acrobat, such as their versions of Helvetica and Times New Roman, IIRC. These are specially designed by Adobe to be swapable with the original font and still maintain the readability of the text content.

 

These are the same fonts you see in a form field's font dialogue. Therefore, folks above are recommending to stick with the default fonts in the form field's Properties dialogue. They work. Seamlessly.

 

quote

A form must always provide anything it needs to be filled by itself and should never rely on anything special to be installed additionally.

Basically the benefit of PDFs is to look exactly the same on any system. Why should this not apply to PDF forms?

 

Question: how could it be possible to include enough characters of a font to accommodate all of the glyphs in the world's languages? Or even just Latin-based European languages?

 

Example, take the diaeresis over a lowercase i, as in “naïve”. Can you guarantee that the diaeresis ï is available in your embedded font? How about any of the other several dozen accented characters in European languages? Or Cyrillic? Or Armenian? Chinese, Japanese, Korean?

 

It's not practical for us forms designers to ensure that the worlds' glyphs are available.

 

Search these forums for comments by retired Adobe engineer Dov Issacs and memorize what he says. He spoke innumberable times about how fonts work, both in regular documents and forms.

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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Hi Bevi,

If you have a form field in Acrobat, and select a specific font for that form field (not one of the standard Acrobat fonts), and then save the PDF form, the font selected is fully embedded in PDF (provided the font allows embedding, and most do. If the font is not embeddable, Acrobat will display a warning at this stage).

This means that anyone opening that PDF with Adobe Reader will be able to type into that form field and the font they will be typing with is the one the original designer chose. This will work even if the end user does not have that font installed on their system.

For instance, in the attached PDF, I've assigned the font Barbedor to the text field. You probably don't have this font? But I believe that anyone that downloads the PDF and edits the form will find that they are using Barbedor because it is fully embedded in the PDF.

This only works if the font is assigned in Acrobat (or with FormMagic, which comes to the same thing). If the font is assigned in InDesign, the font is not embedded.

Am I wrong about this?

Ariel

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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For instance, in the attached PDF, I've assigned the font Barbedor to the text field. You probably don't have this font? But I believe that anyone that downloads the PDF and edits the form will find that they are using Barbedor because it is fully embedded in the PDF.


By @TᴀW

 

In fact I tried this one and compared it to a font preview of  "Barbedor" I found on the web and they don´t look alike.

I doesn´t look like it has been embedded and used for the form input.

I´ve attached a screenshot with the font preview I found showing your demo-PDF and the properties window as well. The yellow marked area doesn´t show "... (Embedded)".

 

Usually I find an additional information about an embedded font behind it´s name.

Please compare the screenshot of another pdf form I´ve attached.

  • "Eingebettete Untergruppe" = Embedded Subset
  • "Eingebettet" = Embedded

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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Same here.

And since you're talking about fonts for form fields, give us a form field to fill in. Use a font that is very distinctive from ordinary fonts, like a script or decorative font.

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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Hi,

 

I´ve read about fonts in PDF from Dov Issacs and others here and elsewhere.

And yes, you can find many explanations why you should not use it like that (embed a font for beeing used inside a form).

And yes, it is easier just to go the safe way and use default fonts etc.

Absolutely no doubt about that!

 

But unfortunately what I´m triying to do doesn´t match that.

I´m not trying to make impossible things work. I just want an available feature (fully embedded font) to work seamlessly across two applications (Acrobat/InDesign) of the same manufacturer (Adobe). It is almost irrelevant or up to my creativity what I want to achieve by using a feature of a program - isn´t it? So what is wrong about that? 

 

However, if this would be absolutely against any principle of PDF, why is it possible at all to embedd an entire font? If the general idea would be, that the generic font is always available on the machine editing it, you would never need to embed more than a subset (exactly the characters used in the document) and that would also be true for print not only forms.

 

The arguments about making sure each and any character is included is one more kind of a "finding reasons" thing - if you know what I mean:

It is very unelikely, that you will use the same form for such many different languages as you suggest.

 

As a conclusion this all suggest PDF forms are not to be used as any kind of form document.

Why? Because:

  • Any form need to be filled by a user, with at least requirements as possible
  • Forms should always look the same, no matter where you open them. This is esspecially true when it comes to tight space for several fields and another font would make the input not to fit the field.
  • Users in many cases are not tech-expierenced or won´t have the rights (IT-wise) and will strugle to install fonts.

 

So at last, I was just trying to make best use of the available features of Acrobat/PDF and was wondering, why I just couldn´t get it running the same way via InDesign.

Obviously, creating a document/PDF/form via InDesign is indeed much more comfortable, acurate and professional as straight from Acrobat.

 

As I may not be capable to solve the problem, I´m basically left with the following options:

 

  1. Export from InDesign as PDF (interactive) + replace any fonts in form-fields that are not used in another text with a dummy-font and backwards in Acrobat (effort OK) + remove any form-fields that are using fonts used in another text an recreate that field manually from scratch in Acrobat (effort hight and needs to be redone after evere change in InDesign)
  2.  Giving the Script mentioned by TaW another run.
  3.  Move away from from PDF for this. Possibly switching to some kind of CSS controlled Web-form. There are no problems with embedding fonts on the server for this. However the idea of having a simple file-based document is done than. Changes to the document can only be done by developers then.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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quote

I just want an available feature (fully embedded font) to work seamlessly across two applications (Acrobat/InDesign) of the same manufacturer (Adobe). It is almost irrelevant or up to my creativity what I want to achieve by using a feature of a program - isn´t it? So what is wrong about that? 

By @André5E12

 

You're forgetting that the font itself can be by another company, not Adobe. Even fonts from https://fonts.adobe.com/  are mostly from other manufacturers.

 

Embedding is controlled mainly by the font owner's copyright and restrictions about the use of the font.

 

It's not so easy!

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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Yes, but fonts are standardised. So this doesn´t really compare to each other.

 

It´s like saying an *.jpg image can´t be rotated in one but the other application and the reason why you should not rotate an image is, because it may be created by a different company.

 

Did I already mention that our company does have the full rights for the font in question - I think I did.

To clarify: It is a full "copy licence" that even allows us to implement this font in software and freely distribute it. And it´s true, you don´t get this for free - it is fact the most expensive option from this font creator.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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Editing and filling a font is NOT a different thing. As long as a font can be used to write text in a final PDF it is editing. If you have the font installed both is not a problem. If not, you have to embed it. If someone is editing the font with the edit document tools or with the form fields makes legally no difference.

When you write, that document size is not an issue you are not aware how huge fonts can be. We are not talking about T1 fonts with 255 glyphs, nowadays fonts can exceed to thousands of glyphs which can increase the file size immense. When you add the styles it will have to embedd several fonts, for each style one.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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Yes, you´r absolutely right - from a technical perspective!

 

And yes, fonts can be larger than the ones I´m using here.

But in this case I´m using some and in a style that are small enough.

 

What I meant by the difference of edit/fill was mainly referring to the user.

This is a common mistake beeing made: Creating and discussing requirements and functions of software purely from the technical side.

The user doesn´t care and in some cases even don´t know about fonts. They just want "the thing" to work.

Why not pushing such demand and let some clever developers find solutions - just dreaming.

 

Afterall, I haven´t seen any reply so far that would help to get my problem solved.

It works from Acrobat, but not from InDesign.

Just persuading me not to use that feature simply won´t solve the problem or change the requirement unfortunately.

 

As written I think I´m stuck with either creating all the form-fields in Acrobat instead, generating a lot of work if anything needs to be changes later on, or change to another technology like Web-form with CSS that has other major disadvanteges...

 

Just to make it clear: I´m not "fighting" against good arguments and it is understood, that you should avoid what I´m trying to do whenever you can.

But if this is the best opportunity with all the disadvanteges in mind...

Sometimes it is better to get something running in a not ideal way in opposite to not beeing able to create it at all.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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I don't know why Adobe's implementation of applying a font to a form field in InDesign doesn't work as it does in Acrobat with regards embedding. It is a little strange.

I have a commercial add-on called FormMagic for InDesign which allows you to specify the font for fields easily (without using the small dropdown in the Buttons and Forms panel) -- in the same way that you apply a font to any text in InDesign.

Then, with a single click in Acrobat, all the font info and formatting is recreated in Acrobat, so fonts are embedded properly using Acrobat's own mechanism to do so.

It's free for short forms, so you may want to see if it solves your problem:  https://www.id-extras.com/products/formmagic/

Ariel

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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Thanks.

 

I tried using the script but it doesn´t help me out of the situation.

No font can be embedded this way.

The colour of one text is even (wrongly) changed.

 

Beside this, even the free version forces me to register an eMail address for promotion purposes and doesn´t execute otherwise.

So I can not recommend this one. However, it was worth trying.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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Hi Andre,

If the font has embedded permissions, it will indeed be embedded this way.

The color is preserved 100%, but of course, as you know, only RGB colours can be used for interactive PDF forms, so if you try to use CMYK, it will be converted by InDesign.

You can opt out of any emails as soon as you receive the first one.

I'll be happy to help if you're not managing to get it to work.

The software is being used around the world, including by insurance companies and government offices worldwide.

Thanks for trying it out!

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 01, 2021 Sep 01, 2021

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I will give it one more try and will let you know...

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 02, 2021 Sep 02, 2021

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So unfortunately this didn´t worked for me.

  1.  I did run the Script in InDesign: <Run script.jpg>
  2.  I saved it as an interactive PDF: <Save interactive.jpg>
  3.  The form-fields lost their formatting and content as expectet, the PDF only shows an embedded subset font for the text used outside the form-fields: <No input.jpg>
  4.  Typing in some test-content reveals the lost formatting, the used (not embedded) fonts will now appear in the properties window: <With Input.jpg>
  5.  I run the script in Acrobat as well: <Applying FormMagic.jpg>
  6.  As a result, the original content and format of the form-fields is restored now (just the blue color is converted wrongly from CMYK to RGB), but the fonts are still not embedded (and Arial is now replaced by Helvetica although beeing available on this PC): <Result.jpg>

 

So I can confirm the plugin restores lost formatting and content of form-fields from InDesign to Acrobat.

But unfortunately it does not force either of the applications to (fully) embed the used fonts.

 

Thanks anyway. There may be (other) situations where this might be helpful...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 02, 2021 Sep 02, 2021

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@André5E12 @Bevi Chagnon - PubCom 

Ok, here's a clearer attempt (and I agree that that screenshot did not look like Barbedor).

The font in this PDF is a free one called "Orange Juice". I've used it for the text field in the attached PDF. The blue rectangle is an editable text field in this PDF, so if you open the PDF with Adobe Reader, you should be able to type with the font Orange Juice. I'm also attaching a screenshot that shows what the font looks like.

Interested to see if this works. As far as I know, it does. You should have full access to Orange Juice in this text field even though it is not installed on your system.

OrangeJuice.PNG

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 02, 2021 Sep 02, 2021

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This seemed to work. Now it also shows "embeded" next to the font in the properties window.

(see attached screenshot)

 

What did the trick?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 03, 2021 Sep 03, 2021

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LATEST

Not sure what went wrong with Barbedor, I'd have to do it again carefully.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 03, 2021 Sep 03, 2021

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Ok OK, Ariel. You win...again! <grin>

Always impressed with your knowledge and scripts.

Is this done with your Forms Magic plug-in? If so, please post the link to it here.

 

Some questions about this theory:

  • Yes, I was able to type, but that particular font has a limited character set, 300+ or so. The website doesn't give a detailed look at the entire character set. So a user with a gylph outside the font's character set will find the form field revert to one of Acrobat's standard fonts for that glyph.
  • If a font with a larger glyph set is used, then, of course, the PDF's file size increases tremendously.  Does your script always embed the entire glyph set? Or could it be subsetted, such as by Unicode codepoint range / languages?
  • Using Orange Juice as a model, how does this embedding affect the font manufacturer's copyright and pricing? See https://www.brittneymurphydesign.com/downloads/orange-juice/  Murphy Design sets the price at $5 for a desktop font, but that doesn't include the cost of embedding rights. Quoted from her website:
    • "Unless you need to embed the font in an application, website, electronic publication, editable pdfs, or use it on a server, the desktop license will work great for you."
  • So that means we'll need an EPUB or other digital document license, which is becoming a standard practice in the font industry. Her fee: $5, but it's for each PDF that has the font embedded, rather than a one-time fee covering all PDFs you'll ever make.
  • What's murky is what happens when a form PDF with her embedded font gets distributed to many people (as happens with forms). Will the fee then be $5 per PDF form, or per person who fills out the form?

 

All of this reminds me to use open source fonts and bypass this copyright and embedding stuff.

 

Thanks, Ariel!

 

 

Bevi Chagnon | Designer & Technologist for Accessible InDesign + PDFs |
Books & Classes | PubCom

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 03, 2021 Sep 03, 2021

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Glad this test worked, I was beginning to wonder!

In fact, this was done without FormMagic. I opened the font field properties in Acrobat and (having installed Orange Juice previously) selected it for that field, and saved the file.

FormMagic works in the same way through scripting, so you get to choose the font in InDesign, and then a single click in Acrobat will reapply all your fonts and formatting. The end result is identical to setting the properties in Acrobat.

If this font is selected in InDesign, though (in the Buttons and Forms panel), then as the OP opined initially, it is not embedded, and that is strange.

As far as I know, Acrobat always embeds the entire font. No option for choosing a subset.

And as for the legal/licensing aspects, I have no idea. It may be an issue. On the other hand, fonts have an "embeddability" setting that the designer can set to one of a number of options (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2015/07/06/document-font-embedding-demystified/). Acrobat respects that setting and won't let you embed a font in a field if the font doesn't allow it. For a designer to enable embedding in the font itself  but to forbid it in the license agreement is something of a contradiction, and I don't know what the legal or ethical position would be there.

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