I was hoping someone might be able to help me understand how fonts work in PDFs.
Sometimes when I create a PDF in InDesign, I get a warning message "only fonts with appropriate permission bits will be enabled". (Having said that, I've been PDFing old files like mad to get it to happen, and can't reproduce the warning message...)
Can someone explain what this message means? Does it relate to ill-gotten fonts, because as far as I know, I only have purchased fonts (including ones that come with applications) on my system. Does this message mean that some fonts in my PDFs may appear differently on other people's systems? I was under the impression that all fonts are embedded in a PDF.
Finally, what does this mean for free fonts, like from dafont.com - do they have appropriate permission bits? Are permission bits related to preventing illegal use of fonts?
If anyone can shed some light on this, or point me in the direction of some online information, I'd be most grateful.
Sorry for raving like a madman, but I'm concerned that my PDFs might not be appearing the way I intended.
Thomas Phinney, Mar 25, 2009 11:42 PM
A font creator can determine if they wish to allow their font to be
embedded into a pdf file or not. This is permission is embedded within
each font using the so called permission bits. If permission to embed a
font is not given, there is nothing you can legally to have the font
embedded within the pdf file.
There is (was?) a bug in Fontographer, which for many years was the
font creation program of choice, that defaulted the embedding
preferences to "no embedding". The result is that there are thousands
of otherwise free fonts out there that cannot be embedded into
documents. Personally, I see nothing ethically, morally, or legally
wrong in changing the embedding flag in such fonts.
Commercial fonts are another matter. Most professional foundries allow
their fonts to be embedded. Some have produced fonts that
inadvertently (because of the Fontographer bug or incompetence)
prevented embedding, and there's at least one paranoid current foundry
that intentionally sets its fonts to "no embedding". AFAIK, with PDF's
rapidly becoming the lingua franca of document exchange, that makes
their fonts completely useless.
More details on the four different embedding levels (none, readable,
editable, and installable) as well as means of changing them, can be
found with appropriate google searches. You'll find a free Microsoft
utility that can change embedding levels, but only to make it MORE
Thanks to you both for your replies. Is there any way I can check the fonts on my system to see if any of my fonts are set to "no embedding"? I use a dual core PC, but also have a G4 iMac, in case there is some software that can be used.
On Herb's advice, I've had a look on the web, and found this statement:
>"Your two possible suggestions led me to examine the settings used to create the PDF and I found that the one for "smallest size PDF" was inadvertently chosen. This led to the font not being embedded."
Can you confirm that this is correct? It seems rather silly that any PDF created for web will end up with the fonts not displaying correctly. I have a feeling that this isn't correct because I have created a lot of PDFs for my company's website and, even though I haven't viewed them on computers with a different font set, I'm sure there would have been problems with the appearance of the PDF if fonts had been substituted. Does text reflow/overset in a PDF if fonts are substituted?
The 'make pdf minimum size' is an Acrobat/Distiller option and only
one of many that people might choose. It goes right along with
high-compression terrible resolution compressed jpegs images.
You asked if there's a way to tell what the embedding attribute is for
a given font. YES!
For Windows, there's an extremely useful free Microsoft font
properties extension that shows the embedding flag for TTF and OTF
fonts. When you right-click on a font file (in explorer or in the
fonts folder) it has nine or ten additional font properties tags you
can display. Download it here:
Just to clarify, the bug in Fontographer was actually that the embedding bits were set to an illegal setting. This left Adobe in the interesting position of trying to decide what to do with fonts with bogus embedding bit settings.
Initially in Acrobat 5 I think it was they decided to not embed such fonts at all. However, starting maybe in 5.05 they treated such fonts as embeddable.
However, font vendors who either intentionally or unthinkingly set those bits to "no embedding" still yield fonts that can't easily be embdedding in PDFs.
Embedding bits are primarily present in TrueType and OpenType fonts. The ability to include them in Type 1 ("PostScript") fonts is a recent innovation.