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I'm authoring a textbook (e-book) in Microsoft Word and we're publishing as an Acrobat PDF. The problem I'm having is that, while the fonts/typography look fine in MS Word, when I build the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro, the fonts are fuzzy/grainy and at times, just downright distorted.

I've tried playing with various Acrobat options -- DPI, downsampling, optimizing for high-quality print, etc -- but nothing seems to help. I've verified that fonts are embedded in the PDF and so forth. I've tried using different fonts. Same problem: fuzzy, grainy, and distorted.

My suspicion is simply that Adobe doesn't display TrueType (let alone ClearType) fonts properly, possibly in order to convince users to switch to OpenType or PostScript fonts, thus pushing the Adobe product line. I wonder if it's even possibly to produce beautiful on-screen typography such as this...

...without paying thousands of dollars for Adobe InDesign and a professional font library.

Any ideas/suggestions much appreciated...!

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Are the fonts still distorted when the documents are printed? If not, Acrobat may just be using crappy 8bit fonts instead of anti-aliased vector ones. – Dana the Sane Dec 8 '09 at 1:35

If you're using Word 2007 (or have access to a copy), try installing the Save as PDF plugin from Microsoft, and use that to save your PDF file.

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Have you tried alternatives, such as Open Office? I realize that heavy MS Office users often don't find OO to be sufficient, but at the very least you could use it as a diagnostic tool. If PDFs produced from it look any better, Word likely needs tweaking; if not, your fonts do.

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"heavy MS Office users often don't find OO to be sufficient" <--understatement of the year. :/ There's a third option, namely that the problem is with Acrobat. But I agree with the basic methodology of replacing the various parts of the system with free alternatives, and seeing if any of them help. – Martha Dec 8 '09 at 0:52
No need to get snarky. I could have blasted the choice of Word in favor of a real typesetting environment (LaTeX), but I bit my tongue. ;-) – Geoff Fritz Dec 8 '09 at 1:51
I wasn't being snarky! Or at least, I certainly wasn't intending to be snarky; just stating an opinion. Sorry if it came off otherwise. (I suffered for two years with OpenOffice, and don't wish that experience on anyone. Even Office 2007 is better, despite the "it's not broken, but let's fix it anyway" thing.) – Martha Dec 8 '09 at 15:43

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