12 Replies Latest reply: Dec 19, 2008 9:28 AM by Buko. RSS

    Keeping text crisp in a PDF export

      Hi all, I'm self-taught in InDesign, so forgive me if the question is basic. I created a document and exported it to PDF using the "press quality" setting. When I print from the PDF, it looks like the text has been converted to little dots rather than vector-style. I tried outlining the text and exporting it, but the same thing happened. Can anyone tell me how to make a PDF without loosing the vector-crisp text?
      As a side note, I am using a font that won't embed in PDF format. Will outlining the text fix this problem?
      I am using InDesign CS3 on a mac.

      Thank you in advance for your help!
        • 1. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
          Tony Morse Community Member
          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.
          • 2. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
            Community Member
            I do not have any transparency going on. It is simply black text on a white background.

            I've had this issue before too. I don't understand why the font would be converted to another format. I don't see any options pertaining to this in the PDF settings.
            • 3. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
              Community Member
              what kind of printer?

              and how are you printing it?

              some printers won't print PDFs so you have to print them as image. If you do this you loose your vector type.

              and if you can't embed the type in the PDF the person viewing said PDF on their computer will not see the font unless they have it to.
              • 4. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                Community Member
                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?
                • 5. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                  Michael Gianino Community Member
                  Is the text black? It could be that it isn't 100% black, and is creating a halftone pattern to simulate dark gray.
                  • 6. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                    Klаus Community Member
                    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.

                    Klaus
                    • 7. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                      Mr. Met Community Member
                      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.
                      • 8. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                        Community Member
                        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.
                        • 9. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                          Mr. Met Community Member
                          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
                          • 10. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                            BobLevine CommunityMVP
                            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.

                            Bob
                            • 11. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                              Mr. Met Community Member
                              Black prints black on my two laser printers. Newsprint is another beast. And nowadays they print cmyk even though they still sell 1C, 2C ads.

                              Edit: I see Bob was referring to screen display, not printing.
                              • 12. Re: Keeping text crisp in a PDF export
                                Community Member
                                If you must use print as image to get your PDF to print from your Brother, that is your problem. A friend had a Lexmark that would only print PDFs this way. It was also supposed to be a Postscript printer. the fonts always looked bitmappy.