PDF display problems
January 25, 2012 6:15 PM   Subscribe

PDFs created in Word opening strangely on recipient's computer. Help?

I regularly create PDFs in word that I have to email to constituents. These are made from templates in MS Word 2007, while using the "save as PDF" option.

Every once in a while, one will write back to me saying the text is completely illegible an blocky. Many who reported this problem have Macs, but I am not sure if it is a mac specific problem. The PDFs always look fine from my end at work, but out of curiosity I opened it on my Mac at home. In Preview, the text of the PDF looks like this and this. So, the footer text is displaying, but the body text is not.

What gives and how do I fix it? I feel like a total dummy, I always thought a PDF gave you a very clear view of what anyone viewing the file would see.
posted by piratebowling to Technology (7 answers total)
 
Best answer: Like you, I've found Word's PDF export to be a little flaky. I use CutePDF's free PDF print driver now.
posted by introp at 6:47 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I found the same problem with the Word 2007 PDF export. It has been a few years, but I think I narrowed it down the fonts used. If you used fonts that weren't on the end reader's computer, you'd get strange behavior. Windows machines would substitute with similar font and be readable but some of the formatting would get weird. Mac users using Preview would get seemed to not display fonts the system doesn't have like in your example. But if you opened it in Adobe Reader for Mac, it would behave like it does on Windows. You can either limit yourself to fonts you know everyone has like Arial, Verdana, etc. Or better yet, use another PDF maker. The whole purpose of the PDF format is to make the output look identical on whatever computer the user is using. Microsoft's exporter in 2007 seemed to miss that.
posted by birdherder at 6:55 PM on January 25, 2012


Response by poster: Not sure if I'll have permission to download cutePDF on a work computer, but I will definitely try the font trick and see if that works.

Thanks!
posted by piratebowling at 6:59 PM on January 25, 2012


Best answer: I came here to recommend looking at the font setting, just like birdherder said. Try finding the setting for embedding fonts into the PDF document. It will make the file sizes slightly larger, but by embedding the fonts used into the document itself, you don't have to guess at which fonts the recipients have on their computers.
posted by gemmy at 9:45 PM on January 25, 2012


Best answer: Your work IT people should be installing CutePDF on every workstation as a matter of course. It's free, and it works. In all the years I've had it installed campus-wide here (120 workstations) I've never had a single support issue with it.
posted by flabdablet at 9:49 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Try updating Adobe. I recently had a problem like this and the solution was an update.
posted by candasartan at 5:56 AM on January 26, 2012


Response by poster: I changed the font to one that was a bit more standard and approved by my organization (Verdana). Cleared it right up. Thanks!
posted by piratebowling at 10:29 AM on January 26, 2012


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