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InDesign and Mathtype

New Here ,
Aug 29, 2023 Aug 29, 2023

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I would like to report a compatibility issue between InDesign and MathType. For about 2 months, I have been experiencing a situation where, when I insert mathematical formulas created with MathType into InDesign, the formulas are displayed correctly. However, when I export the project in PDF format, some formulas are no longer displayed correctly. For example, certain letters/symbols/numbers disappear, leaving a blank space, or other symbols are displayed incorrectly.

Every time I export the same project to PDF (even if no changes have been made), different formulas are missing. Formulas that were displayed correctly in the first export are no longer accurate, and formulas that were incorrect in the first export are displayed correctly in the second... randomly.

I have tried working with both older and newer versions of InDesign and MathType, but the issue persists

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Community Expert ,
Aug 29, 2023 Aug 29, 2023

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quote

...when I insert mathematical formulas created with MathType into InDesign, the formulas are displayed correctly. However, when I export the project in PDF format, some formulas are no longer displayed correctly.

By @alessandrop27417790

 

From your description, I suspect that the problem is related to the fonts. When glyphs are dropped or switched, that's usually because the correct Unicode glyphs and Unicode/OpenType fonts weren't used.

 

  1. Which fonts were used in MathType to create the formulas. Do you know if Unicode/OpenType fonts were used for all glyphs in your formula?
     
  2. In MathType, which glyphs were used for the formula's elements. Can you confirm that the correct Unicode glyphs for your formula? You can view the Unicode codepoint chart for Math at https://www.unicode.org/charts/  Scroll to the section for Mathmatical Symbols.
     
  3. When the file was exported from MathType, which method was used to create the PDF and was the option checked to embed the fonts. From MathType, did you select File / Export-Save as PDF, or File / Print to PDF? And in the setting dialog, did you check an option to embed all your fonts?  Do not copy/paste from a program into InDesign: instead, always import the graphic correctly with File / Place.

 

One core requirement for both accessibility and the exchange of information from one program to another is that fonts must be Unicode/OpenType fonts, and they must contain the specific Unicode glyphs you need for your forumlas.

 

We used MathType in our shop long ago, but dropped it because of quirks like those described above. The former owners of MathType hadn't updated their programming to Unicode glyphs and fonts. I don't know if the new owners https://demo.wiris.com/mathtype/en/  have done that, but I suspect not because this Wikipedia page states that MathType uses Times New Roman and Symbol, which may be old TrueType versions (missing many symbols) or Unicode/OpenType versions.

 

You might want to check with Wiris directly and check which fonts and font technology they use: are all of the fonts and glyphs Unicode?

 

Also, if possible, see if MathType lets you control which font and glyph is used. In our shop, we never use the traditional Symbol font installed on Macs and Windows computers because they are old TrueType (usually) and don't use the correct glyph (and hence, is usually missing when exported) or are unreliable in terms of glyph codepoints. Instead, we use Segoe UI Symbol (comes with Microsoft Windows and Office) and Noto Math and Symbols (https://fonts.google.com/noto/specimen/Noto+Sans+Symbols?query=noto+, and  https://fonts.google.com/noto/specimen/Noto+Sans+Math?query=noto+ )

 

Summary: the problem most likely is with the fonts, glyphs, how the file was made from MathType, and how the file was imported/placed into InDesign.  By the time the PDF is created, it's very late in the workflow; there either isn't a problem or the problem was built into the PDF.

 

Let us know what you discover and if you need any further help.

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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New Here ,
Aug 30, 2023 Aug 30, 2023

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Good morning, thank you for your response.

When you decided to no longer use MathType, what programs did you replace it with? Are they compatible with Word and/or InDesign?

Unfortunately, I doubt that in our case it's a font-related issue: if it were a font problem, the skipped formulas would always be those containing that specific symbol/letter/number in that particular position, right? In our case, the same formula sometimes skips and sometimes displays correctly in the PDF.

The Word file containing the MathType formulas and text is imported into InDesign correctly (not copied and pasted), the formulas are linked .EPS files and display correctly. During the export from InDesign to PDF, all text fonts, formulas, and images are embedded. The PDF indicates that all fonts are embedded.

For the formulas, the Palatino Linotype OpenType font was used, and the Symbol TrueType font was used for Greek letters and mathematical symbols. We have been using Palatino Linotype, Symbol, and 3 or 4 other fonts for formulas for years, and they have never given us any issues.

Now we will try replacing the Symbol TrueType with Segoe UI Symbol or another newer font as suggested, thank you!

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Community Expert ,
Aug 30, 2023 Aug 30, 2023

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@alessandrop27417790, you describe an excellent workflow.

 

But industry requirements change over time, especially with fonts. Old PostScript and TrueType fonts (both non-Unicode varieties) are 23 years out-of-date with current technology standards which require Unicode (also known as OpenType). So swapping a good Unicode font for Symbol TrueType is wise. Here's a blog about how this affects documents and readability. https://www.pubcom.com/blog/2013_12-03/unicode-accessibility.html

 

And make sure to choose the right glyph from the Unicode font, not a look-alike. Although look-alikes might visually appear OK, they are misinterpreted by machine technologies such as screen readers. For math, consider these situations:

  • Lowercase x is the letter x, not a glyph that is understood to mean multiplication.
  • Unicode 00D7 is the multiplication sign ×.
  • Capital Sigma Σ is a Greek language letter.
  • Summation for STEM is Unicode 2212 .

 

Also try exporting in different formats. EPS is an old format, but it should still work perfectly to capture the formula and retain the fonts as it moves from MathType to InDesign to PDF.

 

However, and this is a very important "however," MathType's encoding of the EPS file might not be embedding the fonts or carrying all of the visual data in the formula. Depends on what utility was used to export to your file format. Suggestions:

  • Try exporting from MathType in various file formats.
  • If there's the option to Save As or Export to PDF, try that. This will make a PDF file that will act like a graphic in your InDesign layout and export (usually) seamlessly to the document's PDF. In the dialogue box, check any options to embed fonts.

 

Your post triggered my memory. Why did we stop using MathType? Because of the same problems you're having: controlling the formula by using Unicode fonts, embedding the fonts correctly in the file, and unreliable results in the final PDF. We are in the accessibility industry and their workflow just wasn't working well enough.

 

We have our authors/clients use MS Word's equation editor, but still have the author control the fonts and use only Unicode versions. Export each equation as a PDF (see blog https://www.pubcom.com/blog/tutorials/ms-office/export-pdf/index.shtml ), and import each PDF as an individual graphic into the InDesign layout. And then we add written Alt-Text to complete the accessibility of the graphical formula.

 

FYI, Calibri and Cambria Math are good fonts to use, both Unicode with many math/STEM glyphs. And Microsoft has just released a family of new fonts (Unicode, of course) that look promising. See their article at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2021/04/28/beyond-calibri-finding-microsofts-next...  Note that Aptos is also included in the family. These are "cloud" fonts from MS so they are available only in MS applications, not in InDesign. Blick!

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 23, 2023 Nov 23, 2023

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Hi, Alessandro!

 

Did you find a solution to this bug? My team is suffering from this same issue.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 23, 2023 Nov 23, 2023

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