Fully embedding fonts in PDF

Community Beginner ,
Dec 05, 2014 Dec 05, 2014

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Hi,

I had a piece of information but I can't seem to find it anymore so I have to ask ...

This is about understanding limitations of fully embedding fonts in a PDF (from Indesign Server). Actually it's about one limitation in particular. I know fonts with licensing issues or fonts that are marked "embedded not allowed" will not be embedded. Also, there is a threshold that I need to set.

So, I recall reading somewhere that Indesign will not fully embed "standard" fonts. Is that correct and what is this standard fonts category?

Oh, reading through some posts, I noticed lots of people and experts ask why does one need fully embedded fonts. That's a good question and I don't know the root reason but in my case it seems that some regulatory agencies (in the life sciences/pharma domain) require PDFs with fully embedded fonts.

Many thanks

Cristian

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Dec 06, 2014 Dec 06, 2014

On behalf of Adobe:

(1)     For both InDesign “PDF export” (including InDesign Server) and Illustrator “save as PDF” functions, most but not all of the .joboptions file font embedding options are totally and utterly ignored. The options that are ignored are the Embed all fonts, Embed OpenType fonts, Always embed, and Never embed. Those options are observed by Distiller and the PDFMaker components of Acrobat.

(2)     These applications will attempt to embed all fonts referenced by the document, reg

...

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Mentor ,
Dec 05, 2014 Dec 05, 2014

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You may be mixing some memories.

The Standard PDF .joboptions setting does not embed common fonts.

InDesign's Export ignores these this attribute. (Other means of pdf creation will honor the "not embed")

I recall reading somewhere that you can force a full Embed without subset if you set the threshold to 0. InDesign will allow 0 in the subset minimum, Distiller requires 1-100 as input.

Distiller shown

Distiller Std Set.JPGYou

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 05, 2014 Dec 05, 2014

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Thanks Daniel!

If you're suggesting I mixed "standard fonts" with "standard options", the answer is 'no'. I am not saying my memories don't have bad sectors, just not that one. I am pretty sure I recall reading about "standard fonts". I actually never saw the options above. But maybe you did answer my question ...

And to clarify I am talking about Indesign Server and associated Javascript APIs. I posted the question on this forum assuming the functionality would be generic. And yes, I do use the threshold at 0 if I want full embedding   

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LEGEND ,
Dec 05, 2014 Dec 05, 2014

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There are 14 fonts with a special status: Helvetica (regular, oblique, bold, bold oblique), Courier (ditto), Times (roman, italic, bold, bold italic), Symbol and Zapf Dingbats. (These privileges do not extend as some believe to similarly named fonts). These fonts never need to be embedded because they can always be shown. But they can be embedded, assuming you own them.

There is a separate problem with embedding entire fonts: most fonts now CANNOT be fully embedded. I think this is true of all OpenType fonts but cannot confirm it. Some agencies indeed have unhelpful requirements which cannot necessarily be satisfied.

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Dec 06, 2014 Dec 06, 2014

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On behalf of Adobe:

(1)     For both InDesign “PDF export” (including InDesign Server) and Illustrator “save as PDF” functions, most but not all of the .joboptions file font embedding options are totally and utterly ignored. The options that are ignored are the Embed all fonts, Embed OpenType fonts, Always embed, and Never embed. Those options are observed by Distiller and the PDFMaker components of Acrobat.

(2)     These applications will attempt to embed all fonts referenced by the document, regardless of the settings of the .joboptions file. The only reason why a font would not be embedded in a PDF file would be if (a) the font was unavailable (i.e., not installed on the system) or (b) the font's embedding permissions do not permit embedding for at least preview and print privileges. Thus, if you use the so-called Standard .joboptions (strongly not recommended for any graphic arts purposes), even the base 14 fonts (four faces each of Helvetica, Times, and Courier along with Symbol and ITC Zapf Dingbats will be embedded if your document references them.

(3)     The subset threshold value of 0 (zero) may effectively cause all the glyphs of a font to be embedded in some, but not all cases. This will work for many if not most Type 1 fonts and some smaller TrueType and OpenType CFF fonts. Note that embedding all glyphs in a font is not the same as embedding a full font. For OpenType and TrueType fonts, InDesign and Illustrator never embed all the tables of the font. Such unembedded tables include those used for pair kerning, advanced OpenType features (such as ligatures, alternate representations, contextual alternates, small caps, old style figures, etc.), and extended metrics.

(4)     There are plenty of bubbameissas out there with regards to the benefits or liabilities of either fully embedding or subset embedding fonts. What is true is that: (a) Acrobat never uses the embedded font for text editing - you must have the font installed on the system in order to do such edits. (b) Subset embedding or not is totally irrelevant to what a RIP does when rendering text, either for PostScript or direct PDF RIPs. Neither subset or full embedding is any more reliable than the other and the specifications of PostScript and PDF do not permit the RIP to replace the embedded font with a font with a similar name - urban legend notwithstanding!!!! (c) Third party plug-ins to Acrobat or applications that claim to allow you to edit PDF files with embedded fonts may be illegally letting you do so if the embedding permissions do not permit embedding for editable embedding or installable embedding - most fonts do not provide such embedding permissions and since the fonts are missing metric information, such editing may be somewhat lacking in quality or features.

(5)     In fact some very non-tech-savvy organizations have posted requirements for full embedding of fonts in submitted PDF files (I have personally seen one such requirement by some international bureaucracy). They can post such bone-headed requirements based on limited understanding of PDF and PDF workflows, but that doesn't mean that anybody actually provides such PDF files. If in fact you run into such requirements, I would appreciate it if references to same can be forwarded to my attention by private message on these forums.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 06, 2014 Dec 06, 2014

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Dov - can you define "bubbameissas" please!

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Dec 06, 2014 Dec 06, 2014

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DerekC1000 wrote:

Dov - can you define "bubbameissas" please!

Yiddish for “grandmother's tales” somewhat akin to unsubstantiated urban legends perpetuated over the years. Somewhat difficult to really translate.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 06, 2014 Dec 06, 2014

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Thanks. I couldn't find it via Google. The things you learn on this forum are amazing!

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 08, 2014 Dec 08, 2014

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@Dov, thanks for the clarifications!

Just want to make sure I got it right.

On (2) you are referring on embedding in general, not necessarily full/all glyphs/subset.  So, when you say "even the base 14 fonts  ... will be embedded ...", you don't necessarily mean all glyphs/full ...

On (3) you mention that " threshold value of 0 may effectively cause all the glyphs of a font to be embedded in some, but not all cases ... This will work for many if not most Type 1 fonts and some smaller TrueType and OpenType CFF fonts".

Is there a way for me to tell which fonts (or why) will not have all their glyphs embedded in the context of exporting to PDF from Indesign Server and a threshold of 0 ? (i.e. of course, this excludes the licensing issues or physical presence of fonts)

-Cristian

p.s. I am trying to do some testing but my Server version 10 expired and the only CC server version I have is 9, not compatible with the CC client v 10. And I have a feeling the IDML format might explain some of issues I see with font embedding ...

p.s. 2 I am not sure what agencies ask for this as I don't deal with them directly (as a customer). I heard they are in Europe.  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 08, 2014 Dec 08, 2014

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If you are exporting PDF, then all fonts are embedded. The only thing you can control is subsetting, based on percentage used value.


If you are writing Postscript and Distilling, then you can control embedding. In the postscript, it's complete, none or subset. In Distiller, you can control specific fonts to be always or never embedded.


If you are exporting, this is a moot point.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 08, 2014 Dec 08, 2014

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PDFs should alway be created via Export PDF, not with printing and Distiller, avoid it as it needs postscript. Postscript does neither support color management nor transparency, that's why you should avoid Distiller, Postscript and EPS.

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Dec 09, 2014 Dec 09, 2014

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To reinforce Willi's response, Adobe most strongly recommends against any PDF creation from InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop via distillation of PostScript! The PostScript generated by these programs is optimized for direct printing, not creation of a PDF file. The resultant PDF file loses all live transparency as well as color management.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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New Here ,
Jul 18, 2016 Jul 18, 2016

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Hi Dov,

How to change the

Fully embedding fonts in pdfExportPresets

Fully embedding fonts in PDF

Can you share how to change using via javascript.

hi team,

Please share sample code.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 18, 2016 Jul 18, 2016

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The JS API lets you control subsetting via .subsetFontsBelow, but you wouldn't be able to embed a font that doesn't allow embedding via the GUI or scripting.

Here are the PDFExportPreference parameters:

InDesign ExtendScript API (10.0)

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Dec 09, 2014 Dec 09, 2014

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curela wrote:

@Dov, thanks for the clarifications!

Just want to make sure I got it right.

On (2) you are referring on embedding in general, not necessarily full/all glyphs/subset.  So, when you say "even the base 14 fonts  ... will be embedded ...", you don't necessarily mean all glyphs/full ...

On (3) you mention that " threshold value of 0 may effectively cause all the glyphs of a font to be embedded in some, but not all cases ... This will work for many if not most Type 1 fonts and some smaller TrueType and OpenType CFF fonts".

Is there a way for me to tell which fonts (or why) will not have all their glyphs embedded in the context of exporting to PDF from Indesign Server and a threshold of 0 ? (i.e. of course, this excludes the licensing issues or physical presence of fonts)

-Cristian

p.s. I am trying to do some testing but my Server version 10 expired and the only CC server version I have is 9, not compatible with the CC client v 10. And I have a feeling the IDML format might explain some of issues I see with font embedding ...

p.s. 2 I am not sure what agencies ask for this as I don't deal with them directly (as a customer). I heard they are in Europe. 

With regards to (2), you are correct that I don't mean all glyphs.

With regards to (3), there is no guaranteed method of determining this.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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New Here ,
Sep 26, 2017 Sep 26, 2017

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Dov,

I have read your response

I am a small publisher who has submitted and printed successfully PDF files with a demand printing house.  Now I am adding another printer/retailer.  When I submit my PDFX-1s (SWOP) file to them for validation, they respond that they are unable to process files with the following issue: "FONTS CONTAIN MISSING GLYPHS OR ARE NOT FULLY EMBEDDED IN THE PDF*: We require that all fonts be embedded, with no missing glyphs. Please submit a new file with all fonts properly embedded. Saving a file using the default PDF/X-1a:2001 setting will eliminate this issue. You may refer to the File Creation Guide for further instructions on creating a compliant PDF."

Question, do they have a problem or is there something I am missing (or miss-using) in Acrobat Pro?  I am running on version 11.0.13.

Thanks in advance for your anticipated help.

Rex Krueger

[personal information removed per policy - https://forums.adobe.com/docs/DOC-3731]

[This is an open forum, not Adobe support, please do not post personal information]

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 27, 2017 Sep 27, 2017

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FONTS CONTAIN MISSING GLYPHS OR ARE NOT FULLY EMBEDDED IN THE PDF*

If the printer is not allowing subsetting than you can set Subset fonts when... to 0%. The default is 100%.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.46.55 AM.png

In Acrobat's Document Properties you should see the difference:

0%

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.49.01 AM.png

The default 100%:

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 10.49.24 AM.png

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 07, 2014 Dec 07, 2014

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One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned is the subtle difference between "embed all fonts" and "fully embed fonts." It's important for output that every font used in the file be embedded with a subset to cover the used glyphs or be installed previously in the exact same version on the output device. I suspect many places that write a spec for fully embedded fonts don't understand the difference and really mean embed all fonts.

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LEGEND ,
Sep 27, 2017 Sep 27, 2017

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It's worth using the preflight in Acrobat Pro to validate the file you sent them As PDF/X-1a Does it pass, or give the same error?

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New Here ,
Sep 27, 2017 Sep 27, 2017

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Please forgive the typo in my original post.  The file format I used and got the error message was a PDFX-1a (SWOP).

I have since tried it with PDFX-1a and get the same error message.  I have also used the Acrobat Pro Preflight Fixups 1. Embed Fonts and 2. Embed Fonts (even if text is invisible).  I get the same error message: "FONTS CONTAIN MISSING GLYPHS OR ARE NOT FULLY EMBEDDED IN THE PDF*: We require that all fonts be embedded, with no missing glyphs. Please submit a new file with all fonts properly embedded. Saving a file using the default PDF/X-1a:2001 setting will eliminate this issue. You may refer to the File Creation Guide for further instructions on creating a compliant PDF."  With the following additional  statement "We are unable to process files with this issue.  Please correct this issue and upload new files."

Do I need to go to InDesign or the latest version of Acrobat Pro?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 28, 2017 Sep 28, 2017

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Set Advanced>Subset fonts when percent of characters used is less than to 0%

There's nothing in the PDF/X standard that requires the entire font to be embedded

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 28, 2017 Sep 28, 2017

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See Dov's #4 (3)

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Sep 28, 2017 Sep 28, 2017

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I assume this “error message” about Fonts contain missing glyphs or are not fully embedded in the PDF is not coming from Acrobat Preflight, correct?

To be very clear, absolutely no internationally-recognized PDF standard, whether it be PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, PDF/X-4, PDF/A ,etc., require embedded fonts to be fully embedded, i.e., the full font, not just the glyphs referenced in text within the PDF file, are embedded. Furthermore, absolutely no Adobe product including our layout, design, PDF manipulation, and PDF rendering products requires that fonts be “fully embedded” as opposed to “subset embedded.” In terms of RIP operations, having the full font embedded buys absolutely nothing in terms of output reliability and quality.

There is only one case in which a fully-embedded font is necessary. That is the case in which you create a PDF form and use a non-base 14 font for the form fields. In that particular case, Acrobat will embed the full font (noting of course that you can only specify fonts for forms fields that allow editable embedding in their embedding privileges).

Note that embedding a full font does not enable one to edit text in a PDF file using that embedded font. Acrobat always requires that any font involved with PDF text editing be installed on the user's system (this is due to both technical and legal issues).

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 28, 2017 Sep 28, 2017

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So Dov, in Acrobat PDF forms we should always select a system font for the text entry fields – right?

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Sep 28, 2017 Sep 28, 2017

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I did not say that. But if you use a non-system font (i.e., Helvetica/Arial, Times/Times New Roman, Courier/Courier New), you must first check that its embedding privileges are either installable or editable embedding.

Note that InDesign's interface to Acrobat Forms does not directly allow for choice of font for fields.

Also note that to force the embedding if editing in Acrobat, make sure to try filling a forms field before saving. That will force the font embedding on the forms creation system.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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