ETD Guide/Students/Preparing a PDF document

A popular page representation scheme, a published de facto standard developed by Adobe is the Portable Document Format, PDF. Adobe provides the Acrobat Reader free of charge (and promised it into the foreseeable future), which will read current as well as previous versions of PDF. It is downloadable at Adobe also provides tools for creating, annotating, and manipulating PDF documents, through its own word processing software, printer drivers, and distilling from PostScript. The whole suite is called Adobe Acrobat and is actually available with version 5. Adobe’s Acrobat software, installed on a Windows or Macintosh platform allows most suitable documents to be converted to PDF in moments. From word processors such as Word, WordPerfect, and Framemaker, each document portion can be “printed” to the Distiller printer driver, yielding a PDF file. The Distiller converts PostScript files to PDF files. Acrobat software allows multiple PDF files to be assembled into larger PDF files by inserting documents or deleting pages in an existing PDF file.

It is also possible to produce PDF documents on UNIX systems. However, the latest version of Acrobat Distiller that was available for certain UNIX platforms such as Solaris or HP-UX was version 3.1. Authors writing in LaTeX can use ghostscript to produce PDF files. But in order to obtain readable PDF documents, issues of used fonts, used conversion scripts, etc. have to be considered.

To avoid problems for future readers, authors should embed all fonts in their documents (when that is allowed). Otherwise, software displaying or printing PDF content will attempt to find a similar font and extrapolate from it, which may cause serious problems.

Similarly, authors should use so-called “outline” fonts as opposed to bitmap fonts, so that display and printing can proceed to scale characters as required. Thus, when using TeX or LaTeX, the bitmap fonts commonly found in a standard installation should not be used.


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Last modified on 18 June 2009, at 05:01