22 Replies Latest reply on Jul 29, 2017 12:49 AM by Bernd Alheit

    Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)


      I recently switched from Adobe CS6 to Adobe CC. I typeset a journal published online as pdf files and before the switch there were no problems with the files. Now that the first issue was published, I have been contacted by several readers that the files are unreadable and unprintable as the letters are all garbled, some have smileys, some squares, some simply missing letters. The browser that causes the problem (that I know of at least) is Safari. That is also the case with my mac (10.12.4): in Chrome everything appears to be well but in my desktop Safari (10.1) not, instead in my iPad it reads just fine. No problems with PCs, at least none I know of. When I download the garbled pdf on the desktop, it appears to be fine. The pdf's are published in PHP's Open Journal System, but I don't think that's the where the problem lies as it's all garbled letters also in pdfs sent via email and opened in Safari.


      I make the files in InDesign and export them with High Quality preset (tried also PDF/A, same result).


      The only difference in typesetting since updating to CC is that one particular font I've used is no longer available to me. It is not included in the Typekit so I have changed that font into Avenir Next and Avenir Next Condensed by replacing the missing font everywhere it has occurred. In trying to detect where the problem might be, I have preflighted the pdfs and apparently, for some reason I just don't get, the font-preflight says that the font name Avenir Medium is not unique (below). For some reason all occurrences of Avenir Next Medium are separate fonts. That is, all those bits that were previous in the font that is no longer available to me.


      I don't know if this is the source of the problem, but it's the only where there seems to be a problem. Is there a way to fix this?


      Or is the problem Safari-related? If it is, how could that be fixed?


      I will greatly appreciate any help you can give to me. I have struggled with this since Thursday and just haven't managed to figure it out. Perhaps I haven't been looking into the right place in trying to detect the problem.


      Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 10.07.49.png

        • 1. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

          One of the unfortunate problems of the world of PDF is that not all PDF viewers are created equal! Not all viewers fully implement the ISO PDF specification. Shortcuts are taken and the type (pun intended) of problem you have experienced occurs. In terms of what is causing the problem, unless you can post a sample of such a problematic PDF file, it would be difficult to pinpoint what is actually occurring. Assuming that you are exporting directly from InDesign using the High Quality Print preset for which all fonts are embedded, in theory, this problem should not occur. You mentioned that the PDF files are published in PHP's Open Journal System. Is it possible that the PHP Open Journal System does some “processing” of the PDF files that you provide? If so, we would need to know what they are doing to the files.


          Post a sample (before and after any post-processing) and maybe we can assist.


                    - Dov

          • 2. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
            mariav71328388 Level 1

            Many thanks for your reply. I have since discovered that the problem is not only Safari-related, but occurs also in Firefox. And in both cases when the file is opened directly with the browser. Here is a couple of pages of one pdf and a screenshot of what it looks like. I don't think it has to do with PHP as the text is garbled also when sent as an email attachment. And yes, the pdf has been directly exported from InDesign with High Quality preset.


            I am very grateful for your help. Here is an image of what the text looks like, and also two pictures of the pdf preflight report. I was unable to figure out how to send the actual pdf-file. Sorry about that.



            Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 17.54.57.png

            Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 18.25.43.png


            Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 18.26.33.png

            • 3. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
              Karl Heinz Kremer Adobe Community Professional

              We need the actual PDF files, and not just screen shots. You cannot upload PDF files to the Adobe forums. If you want to share a file, you would have to use a file repository that allows you to share files. One such example is Adobe's Document Cloud. You can find instructions about how to share files with the Document Cloud here: Share Documents via Adobe's Document Cloud - KHKonsulting LLC

              • 4. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                mariav71328388 Level 1

                Thank you for this. Here is a link to one of the pdf-files. All behave the same way.


                • 5. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                  mariav71328388 Level 1

                  Sorry, the link didn't seem to work. Here is a new one: Shared Files - Acrobat.com

                  • 6. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                    Karl Heinz Kremer Adobe Community Professional

                    I cannot reproduce the problems you are describing in Safari or Firefox. I also cannot see the list of potential font problems you've posted as a screen shot when I run the same Preflight profile. Maybe Dov has an idea about what's going on.

                    • 7. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                      Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

                      I've downloaded the PDF file in question. This is the file with embedded fonts from the Whitney and Minion Pro font families.




                      (1)     I could not get the failure that was described in any situation in which Adobe Reader or Acrobat was installed and used for viewing within a browser or otherwise.


                      (2)     Carefully examining the PDF file in the latest update to Acrobat DC Pro (including its enhanced Preflight capabilities), there were no issues whatsoever with the PDF file in terms of the fonts, how they were embedded, or anything else. All preflight tests passed assuming you want your text to be in rich RGB=(0,0,0) black, set to overprint (which is meaningless in RGB) — but that would not be the source of the anomalies you are seeing. (In other words, the preflight warnings you see are irrelevant to the problem!)


                      (3)     Based on the screen shot you provided, it looks like the issue only occurs with the text formatted with Minion Pro.


                      (4)     Agree that the PHP thing is irrelevant.


                      OK, the real question is exactly what is displaying the PDF when the problem is seen? Are the PDF files being displayed by Adobe Reader / Acrobat within the browser window or by something else? In the case of MacOS, the problem might be that Safari is using the MacOS Preview program to display the PDF file. How do have your system setup to handle PDF files? What “owns” the .PDF file suffix on the desktop and within the browser?


                                - Dov

                      • 8. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                        mariav71328388 Level 1

                        I have been away from my computer for a couple of days and I apologise for not replying to your helpful mail sooner.


                        The pdf is opened in the browser when the problem is seen. I have been reported both on problems with Firefox and Safari. My colleague in France who has been having problems with the file report the following: "on the Acrobat Reader document downloaded on my PC, that I opened using Adobe first and it happened as well when I used the Firefox browser, opening the PDF doc from the website", the website here means the Open Journal System operated by the PKP. My colleague here in Finland reported of the problem opening the file with Safari using the Preview. Both also reported that the same problem occurs when sending the pdf via email and then opening the email in directly in the browser from the email. My colleague here in Finland says that once she downloads the file in her desktop, it works just fine. When she opens the file in her PC, it displays just as it should. So the problem doesn't occur in every browser.


                        I myself have been able to catch the issue, too, by opening the file from the OJS website and in email, but only with Safari. If I use Chrome and open the files in the OJS website, they display just fine. I have today played with the files and I assume the problem lies with the fonts after all. I copied the text from one InDesign file to Word, put it all into TNR font and then created a new file with InDesign, made new paragraph styles from scratch and made two copies of it. In the first file I made the paragraph styles using Whitney and Minion Pro, the same fonts I used originally when I worked with the CS6 package, then exported the INDD-file into PDF, sent it to myself and opened it with Safari: the letters were all garbled. In the second copy I used Adobe Caslon Pro and Avenir Next and faced no problems with the fonts when I opened the file in Safari.


                        I have since removed Whitney from my Font book, downloaded it again, uninstalled both InDesign and Acrobat, installed them again (and restarted my computer again), but the result is the same: Whitney+MinionPro garbles the text, Avenir+Adobe Caslon Pro don't. I also tried Avenir+Minion with a garbled result. If a link to an INDD-file would be of use, please let me know.


                        The solution of creating a completely new file and placing the already typeset texts anew is a very time-consuming and unpractical solution, as the journal issue has already been published. Also, replacing the original fonts with e.g. the new pair will result into altered page layout. I would therefore be forever grateful if you could help me in arriving at a solution that would sort out the problem without any massive operations. I am very alone with the problem and therefore appreciate any help you can provide me with. Thank you.


                        • 9. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                          Karl Heinz Kremer Adobe Community Professional

                          Exactly what version of Safari and Mac OS X are you using? What version of Firefox on what OS version shows the problem?

                          • 10. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                            mariav71328388 Level 1

                            I use Safari 10.1 (12603. and my Mac OS X is version 10.12.4. My colleague has the same Safari version and also El Capitan, but version 10.11.6. Both or our displays show garbled characters when opening the files with the browser (also those downloaded in PKP's Open Journal System). After downloading on the desktop, no problems of any kind. Only when viewed in the browser.


                            Our colleague in France who has encountered the same problem with Firefox has Windows 10. Unfortunately he is not available at the moment for more specifics. Also, his friends in Belgium have reported the same problem, but I didn't receive further information for the browsers or their versions. So I guess it's not only Mac. In my Mac it works well with Chrome.


                            Thank you very much for looking into this. I appreciate it greatly. And hope that the source of the problem will be found and fixed. I'm the copyeditor of several journals which use more or less the same fonts and which I have originally made with CS6. The problem appears only in files I've first created in Indesign CS6 AND in files created in CC which use Minion Pro (from the Typekit) and/or Whitney (a local font).

                            • 11. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                              Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee



                              What is totally unclear from your posts is exactly what is displaying the PDF content in the browsers you are referring to.


                              Based on what you have told us, when you actually download the PDF files and view them in Acrobat / Reader, there is no problem. But when the same PDF is viewed in browsers, the characters of certain fonts are “garbled.”


                              Unfortunately, by default, even if you have Acrobat or Reader installed, unless you are viewing the PDF via Internet Explorer, you are unlikely to be viewing the PDF with anything other than the browser's own PDF renderer.


                              You can find the set of instructions as to how to force Safari and (sometimes) Firefox to display PDF using Adobe technology assuming you have either Acrobat or Reader installed at Display PDF in browser Adobe Acrobat DC, Acrobat Reader DC .


                              Unfortunately, you have no such options for either Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browsers at this time.


                              Try these instructions and advise whether your problem is solved for Safari. For users that don't have either Acrobat or Reader (DC version), there is nothing we can further do to assist. The problem is absolutely not with the PDF files themselves per our analysis provided in earlier postings in this thread!


                                        - Dov


                              1 person found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                mariav71328388 Level 1

                                Hi Dov and Karl,

                                I'm back at my desk and continue to have the same problem.


                                I ended up preparing a new InDesign file with CC thinking that perhaps the problem was there after all, this time using Avenir Next Condensed and Adobe Caslon Pro, but the problem with the pdfs remains the same.


                                When opening the pdf in Safari (on my iMac Adobe Reader version 17.009.20044 as the default), I end up looking at garbled fonts. The same goes with my newer iPad (10.3.1), but not with the older one (10.11.1).


                                No problems with Chrome nor when the files are downloaded from Safari to the desktop. After that viewing also in Safari works well.


                                I have since found the same problem when viewing some other journals published as pdf-files, but the garbling has not been as massive as with the ones I have produced. I have also discovered that the same problem occurs when opening older pdf-files made with the CS6 package, but not to the extent as the CC ones.


                                I'm convinced this has something to do with the fonts, but I just cannot get to the problem. Here is a link to one of the articles where the text is all garbled when opened in Safari (my iMac): View of Diversity and elite religiosity in modern China


                                Is there anything I could do so that you could help me with this? Thank you, again.

                                • 13. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                  Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

                                  What still isn't clear from your posting is exactly what you are using to view the PDF files when they show the wrong characters.


                                  Just because you have Acrobat Reader installed on your system, it doesn't mean that Safari will use Acrobat Reader to display the PDF file. Unless you follow the directions I provided in my April 23 posting, you will be using Apple's native PDF renderer. The same is true in iOS, where unless you send the PDF file to Acrobat Reader, it will display with Apple's native PDF renderer.


                                  As with the other file you previously provided, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the PDF file or the fonts inside of same.


                                            - Dov

                                  • 14. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                    mariav71328388 Level 1

                                    Thanks Dov. I did follow the instructions and have selelcted Adobe Reader in the Plugins in the preferences. The only difference to the instructions page is that I don't have the option Allow Always available for me, only Ask, Off and On. The present selection is Ask. In addition to the Adobe Reader plugin (version 17.009.20044) and Adobe AAMDetect (version


                                    I don't know how to change the settings on my newer iPad.


                                    It's a relief as such that there is nothing wrong with the pdf files although I find it a little bit hard to believe. I have tested various files with various fonts but the result seems to be the same.


                                    Here is one of the files:

                                    Shared Files - Acrobat.com


                                    This is how it appears in Safari:


                                    And in my newer iPad:



                                    Here is another file (Avenir Next Condensed and Caslon Pro):

                                    Shared Files - Acrobat.com


                                    The display in Safari (iMac):




                                    And on iPad:


                                    In the second example the problem appears in the name of the author (Adobe Caslon Pro, small caps), in the first paragraph in text which ought to be italicised and where there should be index numbers in small caps pointing to reference numbers. Also, the numbers throughout the page appear to be regular whereas they should be properly displayed as small caps. I haven't used a character style in making any of these.


                                    Am I perhaps doing something wrong already in InDesign?

                                    • 15. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                      Bernd Alheit Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      What happens when you view the documents in Acrobat Reader?

                                      • 16. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                        mariav71328388 Level 1

                                        Thanks you Bernd for participating in this discussion.


                                        No problems when opened in Chrome, nor when opening in Reader or Acrobat or any browser after downloading on the desktop. Problems reported only when displaying/opening the file from the website where the pdf-files are in the newest versions of Safari and apparently also some versions of Firefox. Not solely a mac-related issue.


                                        Yesterday I tested some other journals published in the same PKP Open Journal System portal and opened various files. Some pdf files display the same issue with the same browsers as in the case of my files. I first thought the problem had to do with switching from CS6 to CC and converting old files to the new version, but it's not that as the text is garbled also in files created in CS6 and which have displayed earlier (e.g. El Capitan, older Safari versions).


                                        To investigate this further, I opened one of the problem files in Safari. After scrolling up and down and looking for the pattern of the display problems (has to do with at least italics, boldface, small caps, diacritics, ligatures), the file actually displayed correctly, first one page, then eventually all of it. It took several minutes though. This was the case with most of the files, but not all. One of the smallest one (132 kb) still displays garbled text, but a majority gradually displays alright after plenty of scrolling.


                                        I talked with the Apple support today and look forward to hearing their view on this.


                                        There is somewhere a problem, no doubt, but where, I don't get it. I'm wondering whether this could somehow have something to do with the fact that I have not used character styles for e.g. italics or small caps, but instead operated with paragraph styles and forced paragraph styles when InDesign has not converted the styles from Word. I don't know.

                                        • 17. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

                                          I have downloaded all the files you have pointed us to.


                                          I have validated the files and can assure you that there are absolutely no issues with the PDF files and/or the fonts embedded in them.


                                          Use of paragraph styles or character styles, while strongly recommended in InDesign in terms of providing best practice and discipline for purposes of ease of editing, has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the generated PDF!


                                          I have opened the PDF files you provided on MacOS under Safari with the Acrobat plug-in enabled and saw no anomalies whatsoever,


                                          Similarly, I opened the PDF files on my iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Pro, using both the built-in Apple Preview PDF renderer and Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS and saw no anomalies whatsoever.


                                          We certainly believe that you are encountering problems and viewing the PDF files with the anomalies you describe. However, we have not been able to duplicate any of those visual anomalies with either Adobe or even Apple software with these files.


                                                    - Dov

                                          • 18. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)

                                            I was encountering what I thought was the same problem as the original post. I had pdf exported from InDesign CC, and some of the text was garbled when the pdf was displayed in Safari, though not when the pdf was displayed in Preview, Reader, or Chrome.


                                            The pattern in Safari was follows: letters in Arno Pro Light Display were correct, but numbers (proportional lining with various alternates on, when in InDesign CC) would display as what looked like Courier; SBL Hebrew displayed correctly; and Kuentsler 480 displayed as what looked like Arial except for numbers--the numbers were replaced by blanks.


                                            Then something very odd happened--if I just left the browser window open with the pdf in it, the incorrectly rendered text updated, page by page, to be correctly rendered. Now, several minutes later, it all looks correct.


                                            The problem is reproducible for me: when I reload the page (https://www.glossahouse.com/genesis1-11), the text is garbled in the way described above, but then it gradually fills in with the correct rendering.

                                            • 19. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                              mariav71328388 Level 1

                                              This is exactly my experience, too. But with different fonts: Minion Pro gets all garbled, as does e.g. some versions of Adobe Caslon Pro (e.g. small caps, italics). After scrolling the garbled pdf up and down for a couple of minutes, the letters eventually (in a random page order) display just as they should. I'm convinced it has to do with fonts + browser + InDesign + Acrobat. There is somewhere something that doesn't fit.


                                              I have checked with a colleague whose pdf-files (on the same journal porter where my journals are) also get garbled (italics, ligatures and small caps) the programme she has prepared the files: InDesign & Acrobat, but much earlier versions. These are garbled also only when viewed with Safari's newest browser version. But it's not altogether a Safari-related problem as I have been told that the problem occurs also with PC and Firefox, but I don't know which version.


                                              I've been in contact with Apple support. They recorded the procedure and how it displays, but haven't heard back from them yet.

                                              • 20. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                                mariav71328388 Level 1

                                                I opened your file first with Chrome: no problem whatsoever, with Safari: it garbles just as you describe. And then, after a while, displays as it should. Exactly my experience with my files.

                                                • 21. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                                  Greg Lowitz

                                                  I'm having a similar PDF-rendering issue. In my case, I'm seeing (in Safari) that the header portion of our PDF isn't rendering correctly at the top of the page when viewing a PDF in the browser window. However, if I download the document and/or view it in a different PDF interpreter, it looks fine, so I don't think the PDF is broken. This is version 1.7, but I tried it with earlier versions may as far back as 1.4 and see the same issue. I was also able to duplicate this on my iPhone using Safari as well. I did a quick test on the desktop with Chrome under the same situation and do not see the problem.


                                                  Now, what's really strange is that if the internet connection is just a tiny bit slow for whatever reason or there is a slight delay connecting to the server (even just a split second), I can see it download correctly for about a second -- and then suddenly, the correct-looking fonts get all wacky. Once I even saw the weird colored characters like shown above. Although my situation is related to previewing PDFs from BOX, however, I don't believe this is a Box-issue per-se, it really feels like something broke in how Safari interprets PDFs. I never had this problem until fairly recently (although I can't trace it do a particular update that I recall). See example here. To duplicate the issue, you CANNOT be logged into Box, otherwise the native Box PDF interpreter will render it correctly. It's only when you're viewing the document in preview mode using whatever rendering engine is used when not logged in (maybe something native in Safari?). Here's a link to an example file with the problem (a different file than what's shown below, but it happens on every file we make).


                                                  To summarize how to try and repeat this issue:


                                                  1) Use a MAC running a latest version of Mac OS and Safari (Mine at the time of the test was 10.1.1 Safari and OS X 10.12.5.

                                                  2) Click on the blue link below. It should take you to a preview of the PDF (which you can also download later by clicking the download button to compare the file). If you happen to be a BOX user, make sure your a truly LOGGED OUT of your Box account -- because if you are logged in, it will take you into your Box account directly, and open up their PDF viewer, which renders it correctly.

                                                  3) Pay attention to the logo and the text (font) next to the QR code...and see if it looks weird (thin font all bunched up together). Note that the text next to the QR Code should be the same bold font used elsewhere in the text body which renders OK.


                                                  4) Also, try it a few times and see if it looks OK at first as it's opening up in the browser, and then suddenly it changes before your eyes to this weird look....and it stays that way. Again, downloading the actual PDF is OK. Works fine and looks OK in Acrobat and Apple Preview.


                                                  This issue is really making me nuts. Never seen it until recently. Something's broken somewhere, or tickling a mismatch between the PDF itself and that latest Safari browsers. I have not tested with Firefox, but Chrome seems OK on a quick sanity check.


                                                  I welcome any feedback on whether you're able to reproduce this experience. I've tried it on a few different MACs and all show the same issue, so it's not my computer per-se. Thanks in advance for any ideas.





                                                  • 22. Re: Characters all garbled in pdf (Safari-related?)
                                                    Bernd Alheit Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                    The file looks OK in Acrobat Reader DC and Adobe Acrobat DC.