Bad PDF's: Me or Them?
October 5, 2006 10:27 PM   Subscribe

PDF question: Is it me or the author?

Lately, I've been seeing the error message "Cannot find or create the font xxx" pop up when loading a PDF.

I thought the whole point of the PDF file format was to distribute documents without requiring external files.

Is my machine screwy, or are the document designers dropping the ball?
posted by Marky to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Try downloading Foxit Reader. Much quicker than Acrobat, and seems to work flawlessly.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:37 PM on October 5, 2006

Including fonts in PDFs is optional. But that's not actually related to the problem you're having.

This page would seem to contain the answer to your question, though the actual explanation is gibberish to me.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:27 PM on October 5, 2006

Fonts contained in PDFs have to be found on your computer in order to display, unless they have been specially embedded.

Say your system has only fonts A, B, and C installed. A PDF file created from a document using font B will display just fine, but one created using font G will not. The author can get around that by choosing to embed (include) the font definition for G in the document, making it readable on everyone's system. Advantage: wider legibility. Disadvantage: size.

In truth, your system probably has a few hundred different fonts on board, but the same principle applies.
posted by yclipse at 3:52 AM on October 6, 2006

yclipse's point was driven home to me recently when I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the Chinese .pdf files I created wouldn't work on other machines.

posted by RavinDave at 4:49 AM on October 6, 2006

If it's only lately, figure out what has changed.

Are you getting these PDFs from the creator of the PDFs? Can you report this error to that creator? Maybe the person making the PDFs has changed the "embed fonts?" setting and has no idea this is happening. There is such as option available directly through Distiller and through apps such as Word that can save as PDF when Acrobat is installed.

Are you reading PDFs in a language you weren't reading before? Have you deleted fonts from your machine or changed machines? Maybe you need to install (or reinstall) a font or two.
posted by pracowity at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2006

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