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The spaces between words in PDF files disappear when I copy-paste them. This while viewing the files with the Foxit PDF Reader...

Does anybody know why this is and if there is a fix?

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All PDF files, or some in particular? –  bobince Oct 4 '09 at 1:04
    
All of them. Never had this problem with Adobe Reader –  KdgDev Oct 4 '09 at 2:21
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At last, this bug was fixed in the 3.2 release (forums.foxitsoftware.com/showpost.php?p=40982&postcount=2). –  Yaser Sulaiman Apr 4 '10 at 19:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Copy-pasting from PDF files isn't really 100% reliable. It might be the document formatting, the characters used, or simply the application doing something wrong. Maybe you could try a different PDF reader; since I'm not a big fan of Adobe Reader, I suggest PDF-XChange; it's free and pretty reliable.

At least this way you can see if Foxit Reader is the culprit.

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The problem with PDF is that it doesn't really encode text. All it does is pretty much saying "Put those glyphs there, and those glyphs there". It's a format intended for print and high-fidelity document preview on screen but not so much to actually retain any semantics or contents.

So the only thing a PDF reader can see is what letters are approximately on a line. It can't see spaces as a space character, since there is no such thing in a PDF. All it has is smaller and larger gaps between letters. And thanks to kerning or justified text those aren't even consistent.

So what PDF readers usually do is to guess what gaps are spaces and what gaps are not. Depending on the algorithm used the results are fairly good or horrible.

That being said, that all PDFs exhibit the problem is a little weird. Foxit is able to do better here. You may try another PDF reader or an update, though.

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Reprinting the document using Acrobat Distiller worked for me too. Added the spaces back in to the pdf so I can copy and paste normally.

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Foxit is the problem. I switched to Sumatra and the problem went away for the same PDF.

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