Author Help with PDF Files
In a nutshell, here are the key points to create a good, compliant PDF file:
  • Embed ALL fonts (subsetting or not, it doesn't matter)
  • NO bookmarks
  • NO form fields
  • NO hyperlinks
  • NO page numbering
  • PDF version 1.4 (acrobat 5) or higher

Why is there all this concern about GOOD PDF file submissions?
In an effort to have published papers available to the public quicker, and to ensure that PDF files are universally viewable by everyone, across all platforms, a set of PDF standards has been implemented. Although PDF files are suppose to be inherently platform independent, in reality this is not the case. The single biggest problem is the availability of the fonts used to create the PDF file versus the fonts available on the local machine used to view the file. The simplest solution is to embed and subset ALL fonts used to create a document, within that document. Then, and only then, does the PDF file become truly platform independent. There are, of course, other parameters which the PDF file must meet in order to be a good PDF, and ensure a good viewing and printing experience for the viewing public.

What's the single biggest problem in making your PDF file?
In a nutshell: FONT EMBEDDING. The most crucial part of making a good PDF, is making sure that EVERY font used in your document is embedded and subsetted. The problem with almost every distiller (PDF creation program) is that it will NOT (by default) embed "base 14" fonts, and many times won't embed system fonts, UNLESS you specifically tell it to do so. But that's not all, the fonts that you want to embed, must reside on the system that you are using to create your PDF file.

Because, there are so many different ways to create a PDF file, it's nearly impossible to provide authors with the proper setup instructions for every possible environment and distiller. Below are setup instructions for two of the more common distillers (Acrobat and Ghostscript/Ghostview).

In summary:
  • Check your distiller (PDF creation tool) for settings where you can indicate to "always embed all fonts".
  • You may need to specifically tell your distiller to embed "base 14" and/or "system fonts".
  • Make sure the fonts you are using in your source document reside on the machine you are using to create your PDF file.
  • If you cannot get a font to embed, it could be corrupted on your system, or it could be a "licensed" font that does not allow embedding - try using a different font.

How can you check if all your fonts are embedded?
The simplest way to confirm if ALL your fonts are embedded is to view your PDF file with Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have Acrobat Reader installed on your system, go to the bottom of this page and click on the "Get Acrobat Reader" icon. This free software is available for virtually every platform. Once installed, start the program and open your PDF file. Then choose File > Properties and click on the Fonts tab. From here you can confirm that each font used in your file is embedded & subsetted. After each font name, it should show "embedded". If it does not, then your file is NOT compliant.

Adobe Distiller® Settings for a good PDF:
If you have Adobe Distiller® installed on your machine, and would like to create a good PDF file, you can download the PDF settings file that will allow you to automatically set Adobe Distiller® to produce a good PDF file. This zip file contains instructions on job option file usage as well as files for job option settings for Adobe Acrobat® versions 5-XI

How do you generate a PDF file?

If you will be using Adobe Distiller or GhostScript to create your PDF file, then make sure to follow the instructions at the top of this page to properly set up your program in order to create a compliant file.

You can also link to some of the following web sites for additional help:

How can you view a PDF file?

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat® or Ghostview (GSview) installed on your system, the simplest thing to do is download Adobe Acrobat Reader® which you can link to by clicking on the icon below.

Get Acobat Reader

Where can you get Ghostscript/Ghostview?

You can find information about Ghostscript, Ghostview and GSview by clicking on the icon below.

Get GhostView

Configuring Ghostscript to Produce a good PDF File:
Download this document for details on configuring Ghostscript 9.x, for use with GhostView 5.x, to produce a good PDF File.

  • Ghostscript PS2PDF converter