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I have a PDF file that looks different on other systems. The font on some systems is different. How is this possible? I thought .pdf always displays the same.

Somebody told me that if you are creating a .pdf with a special font and you open this on another system where this font is not installed, you will see something different.

Is that true and if so, how do I avoid this problem and ensure that what people see is as on my system?

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When creating a PDF you have two options:

  • Embed the font in the PDF. it will look the same everywhere, but the file will be larger.
  • Create the PDF without the font.

The last option is very useful if you create lots of similar PDFs. E.g. say you have 1000 bills. All the same structure. Same font(s). Do you embed those a 1000 times, creating 1000 larger PDF files, or do you create 1000 smaller PDFs files and leave one copy of the font installed on the computer.

The second option is often done with standard fonts, where it is reasonably safe to assume that the recipient also has that font on his or her computer.

If you use a non-standard special font then the recipient can not properly use your PDF. T Font software is relative smart and will substitute a different font for it, but it will not look the same.

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Thank you, good to know. Just another question - if people embed the font in the pdf, is this font a pixel graphic (image)? Or still vector (like any other normal font in a pdf)? – Klaus Nov 2 '12 at 16:10
I think it is the regular font, not a pixel. Not sure though. You can test it by embedding a font which you know is not present on the other system. Then zoom in. A pixelated version will distort. – Hennes Nov 2 '12 at 16:16
You can tell it have a subset of the font embedded in the file or the whole thing. Font embedding -- full or partial - puts the outlines in the file, not a pixel image of the characters. – martineau Nov 2 '12 at 16:53

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