How can I find a mystery font in my document?
April 11, 2011 8:41 AM   Subscribe

How can I kill a mystery font showing up in my Word to PDF conversion? When I compile a PDF from this Word document, a font I did not use shows up in the font list in Acrobat. I have tried everything to hunt it and eliminate it, but with no success.

So I have created a document in Word that is 81 pages long. I am using one font, with some bold and italic text. When I create a pdf from the document, I find that Word is sticking the Arial MT font somewhere in there.

I am not using headers, page numbers, or anything of the sort.

I've tried playing around with different documents, and if I create a small test document, it does not do this, so it is not just word or acrobat sticking this in every one.

I have tried selecting the whole document and changing the font, but that does not eliminate it. When I select all text, the font box at the top of the screen goes white, to indicate multiple formatting. When I drag and select text, it stays on my font for about three pages and then whites out. Targeting certain areas with the drag does not help.

I have tried all I can think of to find this rogue. I have tried searching for the font, but if you have a more advanced procedure for that, I am willing to try. Please help me eliminate it! (Just for background, I am trying to upload the pdf with fonts embedded, and the mystery font is not getting embedded, thus causing an error.)

I saw that another user was having the same exact problem here on metafilter but I tried the solutions named in that post and nothing worked (save to rtf and back, print to pdf).

Thanks very much!
posted by bobbyno to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Are there any charts, graphs, or figures in the document that could contain that font?
posted by procrastination at 8:56 AM on April 11, 2011

Have you tried just outputting that Word document to the PDF printer driver?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 AM on April 11, 2011

Try taking a look at the Style Manager, looking only at the styles that are "in use in this document."
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2011

I've had some luck with this in Word by using Find and Replace.

Once you open Find, leave the search field blank and click the More button. Click Format -> Font. Select the font that you're looking for, and click Find.

Once you find it, you should be able to apply the other style. If Word refuses to apply a new style, cut the chunk out, paste it to Notepad (plain text) and then copy and paste it back into the Word doc, and you should be able to apply the proper style.
posted by mattybonez at 9:18 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you need to know what the font is, this may help. I don't know what methods you've tried to identify it, but WhatTheFont is one option. Export it as a PDF so that you can get the rogue font on screen, screen capture it using PrintScreen (I'm not going to assume a certain level of computer skill, so here's a tutorial just in case), and the upload the image to WhatTheFont. I've had decent luck with it in the past. Pretty sure their forums are free to sign up for, which might also be a good place to go for help with identification.
posted by codacorolla at 9:46 AM on April 11, 2011

What font are the page numbers in?
posted by MuffinMan at 12:47 PM on April 11, 2011

I run into this sometimes working with InDesign docs if I've copied-and-pasted images out of a Word document. It's the same type of error - when I try to print, it fails and lists some font I've never heard of as the culprit. My general procedure is:

1. Print in sections until I can pinpoint which page/s of the document are causing the error. (In your case, this would mean exporting smaller sections at a time to pdf.)

2. When I find the page, try deleting all images (inserted pdfs count too) - if it prints, that's it.

3. If you bring the image into Photoshop (or GIMP) and flatten and resave, that should fix it.

Of course, if your document has absolutely no images or inserted files of any kind, then this won't be much help.
posted by ella wren at 3:45 PM on April 11, 2011

This might be fixed with "store fonts in document" or something like that. I think PDF creators will eliminate/munge fonts that they don't think are standard.
posted by gjc at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2011

It could be that you're using a glyph that's not in your chosen font (maybe something that's been put in by autocorrect - for example a dash, fraction, ellipsis, quote ... ) - Word does seem to use Arial as a fall-back sometimes.

If that's the case, your two options are getting rid of the character, or changing it to a font that includes the glyph and won't screw up your conversion.
posted by monkey closet at 12:58 AM on April 12, 2011

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