8 Replies Latest reply on Jul 12, 2015 12:30 PM by wyssmax

    A lesson for anyone who edits a PDF in Illustrator

    Sandee Cohen Adobe Community Professional

      This story has very little to do with InDesign. But considering how many InDesign users edit their PDFs in Illustrator, I thought it was important to post here.

      Part of my latest book deals with exporting snippets from ID with animation code that can be modified in a text editor. Then you can place those snippets back in ID for custom animation. It's an incredibly cool thing.

      When I opened the snippets in my text editor, I wanted those lines of code to print as text, not a pixel shot.

      So I selected the six or seven lines of text in Text Wrangler. I used the Text Wrangler’s Print to Selection command to create an Adobe PDF. So far, so good.


      But then I wanted some of the screen shots to have highlights for the text that needed changing. So I did what Dov Issacs (the Adobe pre-press print master) has warned us for twenty plus years never to do. I opened the PDF in Illustrator and put yellow and blue highlight rectangles behind the text. Saved the file as AI and placed it in ID.

      So I had clean, PostScript text in the screenshot.

      Six lines of text! What could happen? It wasn’t like I cared about the color breakdowns. Or flattening. Or any image details. And the font was fine. It was just some characters dumped on the page.

      When I sent the book to the tech reviewer, she noticed that some of the screen shots had exclamation points at the end of lines of text that she didn’t have in her exported files. I did some research.


      When I had opened the PDF in Illustrator errant exclamation points were added to the end of the code lines of text. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that could happen. But there they were!


      I don’t care where the exclamation points come from. But those points should put the fear of God in anyone who thinks “nothing bad will happen” if they edit a PDF in Illustrator.


      If my tech reviewer hadn’t caught the error, I might have had readers complaining that they added exclamation points and their codes didn’t work.


      I’m passing this on because it is a great example of why you should NEVER use Illustrator to edit a PDF.


      New characters can get added to the text.


      'Nuff said.