Why You Need to Embed Your Fonts in PDFs and How to Do it

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PDFs are the preferred file format for most, if not all, professional print providers. A PDF can be set up to give your printing company all of the pertinent information they need to effectively print your design project while avoiding problems and delays. Some of the most frequent issues print providers encounter with customer files are regarding fonts. Corrupted fonts, incompatible fonts, or fonts that are missing altogether are issues that can easily be avoided by embedding your fonts into your PDFs.

Why PDFs are the preferred file format for printing

Most file formats you use to print at home or in your office are not designed to include all of the information that a professional print provider would need. For example, Microsoft Word prints by using the information in the file that you are working with as well as information stored on your computer, such as font and color settings. If you were to send that file to a printer, they would not have the same information that your computer has. When you save a file as a PDF, you are essentially packaging all of the components of your design into a single file. Think font information, color information, and any other settings you have used. This ensures that whoever is viewing your file on their own device is able to view it as you intended.

Why you need to embed your fonts in PDFs

Designers often use programs such as Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator, both of which will create a reference to the fonts you use, but neither stores them in the file itself. When the software needs font information, it is able to locate it on your computer where it originally pulled it from. When that file is being read on a different computer, it won’t know where to locate that font information, if the computer even has it. When this happens, the font will be replaced with another, completely changing the look of your design. 

When you create a PDF version of your design file, a copy of each necessary font is added to the PDF file itself. This process is known as embedding. Regardless of where this PDF is opened, whether it is on your computer, a friend’s computer, or your print provider’s computer, all of the correct fonts will be there and will render properly. By embedding your fonts in your PDF, you will avoid any issues regarding fonts that may lead to altering the look of your design.

How to embed your fonts in a PDF

Once you have converted your file to a PDF, you will want to check whether or not all of the fonts are embedded in your PDF file.

  • Open your PDF file
  • Click File > Document Properties
  • Click on the Fonts Tab to display the list of all fonts
  • All fonts are either Type 1 or TrueType fonts

All fonts should show as “Embedded Subset.”

If the above is not true for your PDF file, you will have to follow the below instructions to properly embed your fonts in your PDF.

Embedding fonts in Adobe programs

When it comes to embedding fonts, you are able to embed the entire font or just a subset of the characters used in the file. Subsetting ensures that your fonts and font metrics are used when it comes time to print by creating a custom font name. For example, your version of a font, not your print provider’s version, can always be used by the provider for both viewing and printing the PDF file. When a font cannot be embedded because of the font vendor’s settings, and someone that opens or prints the PDF does not have access to the original font, a Multiple Master typeface is temporarily substituted–AdobeSerifMM for a missing serif font, and AdobeSansMM for a missing sans serif font.

Pro tip: a font can only be embedded if it contains a setting by the font vendor that permits it to be embedded.

If you are using Adobe Acrobat, you can embed your fonts by going into the PDF settings and adjusting as follows:

  • Click File > Print
  • Click Adobe PDF
  • Click the Properties button to the right of the Printer Name text box
  • Select the tab Adobe PDF Settings
  • Edit the Default Settings
  • Click Fonts 
  • For Subset embedded fonts when percent of characters used is less than: Set the percentage to 100%
  • Select the Embed all Fonts option
    • For Embedding, select the folder with the fonts you want to embed from the drop-down list
    • Make sure the fonts you need to embed are in the Always Embed box and not in the Never Embed box

For a video tutorial on how to embed fonts into your PDF, click here.

Pro tip: Send your PDF to a friend or family member and view it on their computer to ensure your design is rendering as intended.

Printing with Printivity

We recommend that you save your final file as a flattened PDF to avoid any issues during the printing process. While PDFs are the preferred file format, we also accept file formats of DOC, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIFF, AL, PSD, PUB, and PPT. 
Download product-specific templates directly from Printivity.com before you start your design. Once you’re ready to order, or if you have any questions during the ordering process, contact our expert customer service department at 1-877-649-5463.

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