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Most likely culprit is transparency. Do you have any transparent objects on top of the text, or a drop shadow that overlaps the text?
As for the font, it depends on the font itself. Many, but not all, fonts will outline even if they won't embed. But depending on the project you may need to check the font's usage and license agreement to see if you are legally allowed to do this.
Ah! I never even thought of it being a printer problem. The printer I am using is a Brother brand laser printer (HL217OW). It seems silly to make a laser printer that doesn't print PDFs, but perhaps that's the case.
I thought I could fix the problem by opening the PDF in photoshop and converting it into a high-quality jpeg, but that didn't work either. Are there no solutions besides using a better printer?
Laura, to rule out any printing issues, choose another font one that would be embedded when you export to PDF. When the printing result is fine then, then you can be sure that the original font was (at least part of) the problem.
If the printing result is still poor, open your PDF in Acrobat and have a close look at the type, using the magnifier. If the type looks fine, then your printer and/or your way of printing ;-) seems to be the problem.
What are your output options when you go to print? Should be "Composite Leave Unchanged". I have a brother HL-2040 and I get a nice crisp black from ID. Same with my KM BizHub.
Hmmmexport to Press PDF and printing gives me washed out looking text on the brother and barely acceptable quality to my KM BizHub. My guess is a setting in Acrobat.
Edit: Figured it out on my end. If you export and it looks good in Acrobat when you come in close, then check in the advanced pane (command P>advanced) and make sure your output is 300 dpi. I have a custom 150 setting for sign shops that somehow got stuck as my default. Hence rasterized weak looking text. Changing back to Acrobat default (300) solved the problem.
I'm using the InDesign swatch labelled "black" for all my text. I assume that's as black as it gets - unless I should use "registration" instead. It prints absolutely clear when I print straight out of InDesign. It's only when it goes into PDF format that it prints spotty.
I've now realized that when I open the PDF in photoshop, the text is actually a very dark gray, indicating that it's being converted somewhere along the line, probably in the PDF process.
But I don't see any settings in the PDF process that would account for changing the color of the text.
Just to clarify, I'm using the "Adobe PDF presets" setting straight from InDesign. Is that the best way to do this? I also tried opening Acrobat Distiller directly, but that didn't make any difference in the output, and seemed more awkward to use.
Richard - the output is set to at least 300 dpi under the compression menu. I didn't see any output settings under the other menus.
Print from acrobat, not photoshop. Photoshop is printing a cmyk black I suspect.
Never ever use registration for a color for anything other than custom crop marks.
Here's two screen shots. One for ID export and Acrobat.
Export settings and print settings in Acrobat
Black is no where near as black as it gets. Look at a newspaper, it's
dark gray. What you're seeing is perfectly normal.
You should have InDesign set to display blacks accurately. The only
reason the preference is there for rich black is because some users
raised quite a ruckus when CS was introduced and showed it accurately
but they weren't used to it.