How do I make Acrobat show nonprinting characters?
October 17, 2007 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Adobe Acrobat question: Is it possible to show nonprinting (invisible, hidden) characters? How?

I have searched Google high and low and tried every search term on the very-unhelpful Acrobat Help feature. I want to see paragraph marks, spacing, tabs, etc. I am using Acrobat 8 Standard edition. I hate using my question on this but it is driving me CRAZY!
posted by fiercecupcake to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
No. There are shouldn't be paragraph or tab characters in most PDFs. PDF does not store a stream of text like a word processor. It stores coordinates of objects, so a tabbed line would be stored as commands like this:
at 4,5 write "column1"
at 4,20 write "column2"
(Not the actual commands of course.)
posted by grouse at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2007

Oh, crap.

Okay, I have a pretty limited understanding of these things, but -- when I am editing them, I can put in spaces or carriage returns. Does it just store them as coordinates?

Crap crap. It would make it so much easier for me to proof.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:51 AM on October 17, 2007

As far as I can tell, PDFs don't store paragraph break characters or anything of the sort. In fact, they seem to store paragraph text as a set of lines at best; in other words, if you have a narrow column of text, you can expect a whole lot of superfluous line break characters.

I often have to repurpose PDF print content for the web, and this is my single biggest pet peeve. At best you might be able to distinguish, say, em-spaces vs. en-spaces vs. normal spaces. (em-dashes and en-dashes definitely do translate.) Tab characters are unlikely, and if the layout person uses paragraph styles to set indents (as they should!) you won't even see tab characters in the original layout file, let alone the PDF.
posted by chrominance at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2007

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