LaTeX, PDF and fonts
April 4, 2005 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I am in a mess with a large PDF document I made in LaTeX. I imported my own fonts (converted from TTF) and on screen they look great. But when I print the document, they look awful. I am very confused.

This new font I imported from a TTF file is used as a heading font. If I print the document with Mac OS X Preview, the headings are in the right font but all the characters are mushed together or spaced apart strangely. If I print it with Adobe Reader (on Windows or Mac) the font is replaced with a standard 'typewriter' font and also all smushed or spaced apart. The rest of the document looks great printed, including another two fonts I also imported from TTF using the same process. It's only having trouble printing one particular font.

But here's the catch: if there is an imported graphic (\epsfig{} in LaTeX) on a page, all the heading fonts are fine for that page only!! It's like if it sees a picture it moves the renderer into 'image mode' and renders the whole page from the screen view, which looks fine. But the next page will be back to normal crap again.

What am I doing wrong? I thought PDF was supposed to be the same on the screen and the printer. I guess I'm wrong but I don't know what I should do to fix it.
posted by neustile to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should quickly note that I've tried this on 3 different printers, all PostScript-compatible networked LaserJets.
posted by neustile at 7:00 PM on April 4, 2005

TeX's handling of fonts is pretty complex. I haven't used LaTeX in awhile, but in the past there were two ways to make TeX files cooperate better. One was to use psfonts, which substitutes the metafont fonts in TeX with normal postscript fonts. The other was to use pdftex/pdflatex to build a .pdf directly, bypassing the .dvi stage. If you haven't tried either option, they may be worth checking out.
posted by Nelson at 7:02 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: Oh sorry, I should have said 'pdftex' instead of LaTeX. Old habits die hard :) Yes, I'm using pdftex currently. I can't see how this could be LaTeX/PDFTex's fault if it looks great in the PDF Viewer-- there's some disconnect between viewer and printer that I don't get.
posted by neustile at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2005

I don't know about this specific instance, but the "mushed up" thing you describe is usually when one font is substituted for another at the printer -- the font specific kerning etc ruins it.

Is there a chance your printer is substituting the font you chose for one of its own? What's the font called? Anything common?
posted by bonaldi at 8:17 PM on April 4, 2005

Can you describe what you did to convert the truetype fonts to type 1 (presumably)? It sounds like there is a missing step there (some files are missing and the ramifications aren't felt until printing) but I'm not sure what offhand. You might check this tutorial and make sure you did everything there (it is a complex process).
posted by advil at 8:52 PM on April 4, 2005

If you're using pdftex -- do you mean pdftex or pdflatex ? --

Have you tried generating a dvi and dvipsing it, and then dumping the .ps to .pdf?

Could you have converted a "proper" font to a bitmap font? I've had the reverse happen plenty of times -- a pdf that looks terrible on the screen looks fine printed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:25 PM on April 4, 2005

Response by poster: I'm using pdflatex (the default for the OSX program TeXShop.) The font I'm having trouble with is "MyriadMM." I've followed that tutorial and many other like it when I was trying to get the fonts to work. I haven't tried going the dvi route, that's next.

I still don't get how a PDF file that looks great on screen looks crappy on a printer. If the printer doesn't have the font, doesn't the PDF file send the font along?
posted by neustile at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2005

That's an old multiple master version of Myriad. I'm guessing the MM format is the spanner in the works.
posted by D.C. at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2005

I still don't get how a PDF file that looks great on screen looks crappy on a printer.

Type 1 fonts have two parts: a bitmap version that is used for screen display, and an outline version that is used for printing. This is (I believe) for efficiency - the resolution difference between screen and printer is so great that the printed version won't look good unless it is generated from an outline, but generating the font at screen resolution from an outline can be very slow (this is not really true any more, but the system still lingers). The more common problem is the opposite - the bitmap data is missing.

My idea was that the outline data was missing, corrupted, or lost in the conversion, but I'm not sure how this could be if you followed the directions. Maybe (like D.C.) suggests there was something odd about the original truetype version that the various conversion utilities couldn't handle.
posted by advil at 4:07 PM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: This post is about to drop off the screen, but I wanted to thank everyone for your help. I still haven't gotten it but at this point I've removed my MyriadMM font from the mix and am using the default font for this instead. There's a deadline a-brewin and the last thing I need to get stuck on is font messes. I might have to come back to it one day, will start afresh, hopefully with a new start font.
posted by neustile at 6:38 PM on April 5, 2005

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