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We have a system that renders a report as a PDF, and displays it in the browser for the user. In the browser, the document always appears to display fine, but when printed on one machine, it sometimes changes some of the data in the report to seemingly random characters.

Here are some examples of the strings it inserts:

Bvhvt ul1: -!3122
Ti jqqf e!Wjb;
Nfttf ohf s!Tf swjdf

Additionally, the inter-character spacing is weird. It sometimes writes characters overlapping each other.

I noticed some repetition in the garbled text, so I typed a few of them into Google, and surprisingly got a lot of hits. Here is the string I searched for: pdf cjmp ebuf nftf up!

The Google search summaries contain the garbled text. However, when I click on those links in Google, I get perfectly readable PDF files. It's as if Google's PDF crawler has the same bug.

Has anyone figured this out? Is this an Acrobat Reader bug?

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Have you tried reading the PDFs in another viewer (such as sumatra)? or printing/creating them with a different method (Cutepdf, pdfcreator, openoffice, etc)? –  MaQleod Aug 11 '11 at 22:34
@MaQleod - it's not readily reproducible. Opening the same report again and printing it a second time seems to print it just fine. Also, on other computers it doesn't seem to happen. I don't have the option to open the report in a different viewer because the PDF is streamed from a report server and opened in Internet Explorer. –  Scott Whitlock Aug 12 '11 at 15:47

3 Answers 3

I also suffered from that problem from time to time. As comments indicate it is not easily reproducible.

However, I notice that, in my system, it almost always happened when a print job was given and I closed Adobe Reader before the print job actually started. Although figures and other geometrical aspects were kept OK, the text was gobbledygook (with boxes, copyright signs and extended ASCII characters, and so forth) in most parts of the document.

A solution, besides the one you pointed out, is to not close Adobe Reader, at least until the printing has finished.

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One fix which overcomes lots of Acrobat printing problems is to "Print as Image". As shown in the link, you can select that at print time, under the "advanced" button. Unfortunately it can also mean that the print jobs become significantly larger (this is printer and job dependent).

Another thing you can do is to try a different PDF reader (e.g. Foxit or CutePDF) but organisational readers may make this impossible.

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The problem (and a solution) are described in this blog post.

TL;DR is “print as image.”

Specifically as outlined in the post:

Today, after reprinting the same PDF several times, and getting garbage out each time, I clicked “print”, and started looking around in the print window that opens for my HP 7260 printer. When I print PDFs, I get an “Advanced” button in the bottom left corner of the print window that I can click on. There are a bunch of “greyed-out” postscript options in this window, but there is also a check box that says “Print as image”. I decided to check this box and click “OK”, which closes the advanced printing options window, then I clicked “OK” to send the PDF to the printer. I think doing this causes the entire document to be sent to the printer as “raster graphics”, rather than as PCL containing a mix of graphics and ASCII text.

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Link only answers are ghastly, abhorrent, and other kinds of nasty. Please, pretty please, quote the relevant parts of that link to avoid link rot (i.e. the site disappearing from the web) –  Doktoro Reichard Nov 6 '13 at 19:44

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