LaTeX + pdf = employment fail?
August 18, 2009 9:30 AM   Subscribe

LaTeX + pdf = employment fail? I am looking for a job and have been using LaTeX to generate my resume and cover-letter. At a recent job interview I was told that they weren't able to print my resume. It looked fine on their computer but when they printed it, it was as if most of the document had been whited-out: a couple of phrases appeared approximately where they should but, most of it was just missing.

Are all of the resumes I've emailed screwed up or special unix snowflakes? I have been using texlive on ubunutu to generate a dvi of my resume and cover letter and then dvipdf to create the pdf. The laser printer they were using didn't appear to support postscript, and by clicking on the 'print as image' box in windows I was able to get the resume to print out fine...
posted by geos to Technology (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
is there some way of configuring things so that the resulting files are not special snowflakes... I get the sense that this would happen on any non-postscript based laser printer.
posted by geos at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2009


Huh. I used pdflatex to directly generate PDFs for my resume and at least as far as I know there weren't any problems with them.
posted by kmz at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2009


I use pdflatex as well. Is there a reason you're going through dvi? I've never had good luck with that.
posted by demiurge at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2009


Yes, use pdflatex.
posted by grouse at 9:42 AM on August 18, 2009


As a last resort, get hold of a Mac or a Windows machine with a PDF virtual printer installed, view your file in a PDF viewer that renders it properly, and then print it out into a 2nd file. The PDF content in that 2nd file will probably have round-tripped between being PDF and pure PostScript enough times to clear out any of the wonky bits.
posted by XMLicious at 9:46 AM on August 18, 2009


Could you maybe post a link to your .tex file and your output ?

Thirding pdflatex, although I use xelatex these days for opentype goodness.
posted by stereo at 9:48 AM on August 18, 2009


pdflatex chokes on some pstricks stuff i use in other documents.... so i don't have things set up that way.

Why would it render correctly on the screen but not print out?
posted by geos at 9:50 AM on August 18, 2009


or I should say, not print out on their printer.

what freaks me out is that I checked whether it rendered correctly on windows (on the screen) beforehand and printed out the document (on a postscript based printer though) and it looked fine.
posted by geos at 10:01 AM on August 18, 2009


PDFs are not as universally portable as some people believe, because it is possible for them to have fonts embedded inside them or not. You are going to want to make sure that when you generate a PDF for electronic transmission, 100% of everything is embedded inside them. But, most PDFs that are generated the "correct" way do not do this.

PDF "printers" generally do embed everything.

Even after that, a PDF might still look slightly different from one machine to another. Plus, some PDFs are jacked up in weird subtle ways, sometimes deliberate. For example, they will display correctly but if you try to copy any text out, you get random characters, because some weird, copy-defying font is being used where the character being displayed is what the author intended but to the computer it's a hash mark or something.
posted by yesno at 10:05 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is your dvipdf one that converts dvi natively to pdf, or is it essentially a wrapper for dvips+ps2pdf? I've found some distros name different tools the same thing. You're more likely to have repeatable results if Ghostscript (ps2pdf) is involved.
posted by scruss at 10:05 AM on August 18, 2009


It's a font problem of some sort. In the past, I've had the best luck with TeX and PDFs by using basic postscript fonts like Times. (Although you miss out on the old-school charm of Computer Modern Roman. I always smiled when I reviewed an engineer's resume in CMR.)
posted by Nelson at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2009


Is your dvipdf one that converts dvi natively to pdf, or is it essentially a wrapper for dvips+ps2pdf?

hmm... dvipdf on ubuntu is a wrapper for dvips + ps2pdf. as I said before, I use pstricks pretty heavily in other documents so I need ghostscript for them.

i could try using pdflatex on the non-pstricks stuff but now I'm really paranoid, if a pdf can render fine on the screen and print out... but just not print out on some printers it's hard to have much confidence. and then there's the alternative of generating .doc files in openoffice...[shudder].
posted by geos at 10:12 AM on August 18, 2009


I've run into this problem with lots of forms that I've needed to print. From my side of things, you have to choose the "Print As Image" option in the print dialog, which is unreasonable to ask of someone looking at your resume.

$10 says it works if they do that. Also might give you a vector to search for the problem.
posted by disillusioned at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2009


I've run into this problem with lots of forms that I've needed to print. From my side of things, you have to choose the "Print As Image" option in the print dialog, which is unreasonable to ask of someone looking at your resume.

yes, I was able to get it to print from the interviewers computer by using "Print as Image" but that clearly = employment fail.

it's hard to troubleshoot as it rendered fine on another windows machine and printed fine on another printer.
posted by geos at 10:36 AM on August 18, 2009


What font are you using? CMR or something else?
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:06 AM on August 18, 2009


Another thing — if you've got Adobe Reader, you can check what fonts are embedded in a PDF. Open up the PDF, select "Properties" from the "File" menu, and then look at the list of fonts under the "Fonts" tab. (Most likely, you can do this in other PDF readers, but I'm not familiar enough with any others to say how.)

My hunch is that yesno is right and that one way or another this is a font embedding problem. To be perfectly safe, you want to see every font you used in the document listed under the "Fonts" tab, indicating that they've all been embedded. (It may tell you that a subset of the font has been embedded. That's okay, it just means that only the characters that are actually necessary were embedded.) Less that that, and you're at the mercy of whatever your recipient has installed — which is normally safe for standard fonts like Times, but occasionally makes trouble.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:20 AM on August 18, 2009


What font are you using? CMR or something else?

yeah, i'm using the default which is probably CMR...

My hunch is that yesno is right and that one way or another this is a font embedding problem. To be perfectly safe, you want to see every font you used in the document listed under the "Fonts" tab, indicating that they've all been embedded.

how do i change the embedding? it says that all of the fonts, mostly CMR, have "Type 1C, Embedded subset"
posted by geos at 12:20 PM on August 18, 2009


Your embedding sounds OK to me if all the fonts are embedded. An embedded subset is (supposed to be) adequate: the distilling program has worked out which characters it needs to render the page correctly. Subsetting improves compactness and often preserves the licensing intent of the font owner.

This page looks worth a read.
posted by galaksit at 1:43 PM on August 18, 2009


I always attach a plain ole ASCII text file in addition to the fancier one. Maybe this goes over better in certain fields? I am in software development. In every interview I've done where the interviewer printed out the resumé, it was the .txt version; when I have had to interview people, that is the one I print for my own reference.

I think the pretty one is great for getting HR's attention and impressing the hiring manager, but if they are printing it out, probably don't care so much how sexy it is.

YMMV depending on the field though.
posted by cj_ at 3:12 PM on August 18, 2009


Heh. What better way to impress employers than with your ability to troubleshoot their computers?
posted by pwnguin at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2009


Yeah, it looks like I was wrong. If every size of CMR that you used is embedded, then font embedding isn't the problem. ("Embedded subset" is fine, like galaksit said. And "Type 1C" just describes what sort of font CMR is; it's what you ought to see there, you can't change it, and there's no reason to want to.)

So I'm back to being stumped.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:35 PM on August 18, 2009


Anything pstricks can do, pdf/tikz can do, too (I think). And: no problem using pdflatex.
posted by funkbrain at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2009


that's pgf/tikz...
posted by funkbrain at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2009


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