How To: Fix Adobe InDesign to PDF Character Conversion Problem

33
Back to the Blog

If you are a graphic designer and frequently convert Adobe Illustrator and InDesign files to PDF’s, you have probably encountered issue with the “i” and “l” characters rendering too thick. If you are using PDF’s for client presentations, this can be a major problem that potentially could compromise the acceptance of an otherwise great design.

Here is an example of the problem. If you look closely at the “I” characters you can see that they are slightly bolder than they should be.

Thick Characters

This problem only happens after the font has been converted to outlines and exported to a PDF. If you print the PDF everything appears as normal. Also, sometimes if you zoom in or out, it goes away. It is quite strange, and something I can’t figure out why Adobe hasn’t fixed already.

In the past, when this had been particularly obvious in a client presentation, I would usually call the client to give them reassurance that when the design was printed, everything would be fine. Regardless, it always created a somewhat awkward situation.

Fortunately, I was recently sent a fix by one of my Twitter followers, and since I discovered that so many people were experiencing the same problem, I thought it would be beneficial to share it.

The Bold Character Fix

This fix came courtesy of an article written by ArminVit from the Speak Up archives. You can check out his original post here.

To fix this, is quite simple, so here we go.

Open up your original logo (or other design) file in Adobe Illustrator. Select the “i” or “l” character that appeared thick/bold in the PDF using the direct selection tool. Using the pen tool, create two additional anchor points exactly at the halfway point of each character (making a total of 6), as pictured below. Do this one by one for each character affected. Save the file, and transfer the design to Adobe InDesign, and the problem will be fixed. When you export to a PDF this time all characters display correctly. That’s it!

character fix

This fix is only really viable when a relatively small number of characters are involved, like in a logo design. However, at least it is something, and it works!

correct characters

Thank You Twitter Followers

Thank you to all my Twitter followers who responded when I first tweeted about this problem a few days ago, including @gmsdesigns, @supervee, @JemappelleLowe, @isaacalves, @marnieb, and @krush_design.

An extra special thanks to James Reeve for tweeting me the link to the to the original article providing the fix. You can check out his rather awesome portfolio here.

Have you experienced this problem before? If so, how did you go about correcting it?

Please leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed. Thank you!


  • Pingback: Tweets that mention How To: Fix Adobe InDesign to PDF Character Conversion Problem | Logobird, Logo design -- Topsy.com()

  • http://designluv.com Marnie B

    Awesome idea to post this. And you’re welcome! I’m glad I replied, or I probably would have missed out on this fix entirely.

    It’s amazing that something so simple that really has no effect on the way the design looks whatsoever can affect it once it’s exported to PDF.

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Thanks Marnie, hopefully there are a few more people out there who will find this post helpful.

      I know I had to search high and low to find the solution!

  • http://designluv.com Marnie B

    Awesome idea to post this. And you’re welcome! I’m glad I replied, or I probably would have missed out on this fix entirely.

    It’s amazing that something so simple that really has no effect on the way the design looks whatsoever can affect it once it’s exported to PDF.

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Thanks Marnie, hopefully there are a few more people out there who will find this post helpful.

      I know I had to search high and low to find the solution!

  • http://www.gmsuchy.com gerry suchy

    Duane,

    Thanks for the mention and the fix. This needs to be filed in the amazing but true archive. I agree, why doesn’t Adobe know about this.

    Take Care

    Gerry

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Gerry, Adobe knows about it, for some reason they just wont fix it. Which makes it even more amazing but true!

  • http://www.gmsuchy.com gerry suchy

    Duane,

    Thanks for the mention and the fix. This needs to be filed in the amazing but true archive. I agree, why doesn’t Adobe know about this.

    Take Care

    Gerry

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Gerry, Adobe knows about it, for some reason they just wont fix it. Which makes it even more amazing but true!

  • http://www.veronicawong.ca Veronica

    This solution works well for logos or display type, but not when you have an entire document of text :(

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Veronica, I agree there are some pretty big limitations to this fix (or more of a workaround really). Not sure what you would have to do if you had a whole document of text!

      BTW, I hope that Lost poster is plastered on your wall somewhere :)

  • http://www.veronicawong.ca Veronica

    This solution works well for logos or display type, but not when you have an entire document of text :(

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Veronica, I agree there are some pretty big limitations to this fix (or more of a workaround really). Not sure what you would have to do if you had a whole document of text!

      BTW, I hope that Lost poster is plastered on your wall somewhere :)

  • http://www.gmsuchy.com gerry suchy

    Just wanted to add my recommendation for the Alex Mathers book. “10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives” This is well worth every dollar and would easily become one of those go to reference books on the shelf if it were only in print. And how often do you get a money back guarantee on a book. A must have in my opinion.

    Gerry

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Gerry, The “10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives” ebook is an excellent product, packed full of valuable information.
      Thanks for supporting it!

  • http://www.gmsuchy.com gerry suchy

    Just wanted to add my recommendation for the Alex Mathers book. “10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives” This is well worth every dollar and would easily become one of those go to reference books on the shelf if it were only in print. And how often do you get a money back guarantee on a book. A must have in my opinion.

    Gerry

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Gerry, The “10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives” ebook is an excellent product, packed full of valuable information.
      Thanks for supporting it!

  • http://www.grandciel.com Kristin Maija Peterson

    I have not run into to this problem before, but if I do and I’m sure I will (unless Adobe fixes the problem first) I’m prepared. Such a simple quick fix too that saves face during client presentations.

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Krisitin, glad to hear you found the post useful. I am sure you will encounter it sooner or later, and hopefully now you will be prepared!

  • http://www.grandciel.com Kristin Maija Peterson

    I have not run into to this problem before, but if I do and I’m sure I will (unless Adobe fixes the problem first) I’m prepared. Such a simple quick fix too that saves face during client presentations.

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      Hi Krisitin, glad to hear you found the post useful. I am sure you will encounter it sooner or later, and hopefully now you will be prepared!

  • http://jamesreeve.info James Reeve

    Cheers for the shout out Duane.

    I prefer your much simpler tutorial to follow. Will now use this instead 😉

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      No problem James. Thanks for pointing out this workaround to me! Saved me many headaches:)

  • http://jamesreeve.info James Reeve

    Cheers for the shout out Duane.

    I prefer your much simpler tutorial to follow. Will now use this instead 😉

    • http://www.logobird.com.au Duane Kinsey

      No problem James. Thanks for pointing out this workaround to me! Saved me many headaches:)

  • http://logotomizado.blogspot.com Alejandro Rodríguez-Juele

    I’ve had this very problem for years and never thought of asking for help. I simply explained to my clients that it was a sort of optical trick that didn’t show in print. Anyway, coming from an image professional this sounded (to me at least) like an excuse.
    I’m both surprised and grateful for such a simple solution. You’re right in saying that blogs are a great tool for a designer!

  • Sharon

    I’ve been wishing Adobe would fix this problem for years, to the point of wondering if it was an intentional part of the programing. Sick of explaining that it looks odd but will print fine, I rarely email pdf’s as proofs or attachments and have had to stick with jpgs. Many advertisers want pdf’s now and I hate to send them out that way. I’m truly grateful for the fix. Just used it and it worked great! Works on hyphens, too. THANK YOU!!

  • http://twitter.com/bsarich Brennan Sarich

    Just wanted to point out this works for AI files to pdf, but not vector files transported into indesign documents.  That doesn’t matter to everyone, but it did for me during one project.  =P

  • Jamie

    Guys, I know this is old, but the issue still exists, so is still very relevant and I have some additional information, so others may find this helpful. The issue is caused by the “enhance thin lines” feature in adobe reader. It can be turned off by going to preferences > Page display, but this is an unacceptable work-a-round in my view so we “all” need to pressure Adobe to fix this. The problem occurs with any 4 point polygon (not just outlined text). Also, simply adding one more point to the polygon fixes the issue. That’s why the above solution works, but it doesn’t have to be two extra points and they don’t have to be in any particular place. Another fix, (make a second copy of your work if you need to) converting your text to outlines as complete words, lines or paragraphs before rendering to pdf rather than individual characters also does the trick.

    • Jennifer

      First, a shout out and thank you to Duane for this awesome and simple fix to this font headache that I’ve encountered a few times when working with finicky fonts. I’m so glad there are people like you out there to share this info to designers and others who are pulling their hair out over how to solve a problem that shouldn’t be. And to Jamie, I tried the one point only method and it worked equally well. This was helpful for having several i’s in an image that were thickening. Cheers to your time and research on this.

  • Sudhaker Jain

    Try Kernel for PDF file repair tool to fix corrupt PDF documents, The software available with three scanning mode, which modes recover PDF file and fix any type of errors. First you have try demo version of this tool then purchase full version.

  • MJ Tijhof

    If you have a whole page of text simply select the whole text > go to Object > path > add anchor points. Works for most standard fonts.

  • Rick Drew

    Just did a print job – and it printed that way. Not happy at all.

Back to the Blog