# Changing ZapfDingbat font character in a PDF file

I've got a PDF file which has a single 'ZapfDingbat' font character (a big tick mark) in it. I opened it in Adobe Acrobat Professional and tried to use 'touch up' tool to change this character.

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This should be on SuperUser. –  Camilo Martin Dec 18 '09 at 7:14
Could someone please suggest a better forum to ask this kind of question? –  understack Dec 18 '09 at 7:16
@Camilo: what do you mean? –  understack Dec 18 '09 at 7:16
@understack - superuser.com is a part of the stackoverflow family, intended for general computer-user questions. –  Dominic Rodger Dec 18 '09 at 7:29
@Thanks Dominic. I'll post it there. –  understack Dec 18 '09 at 7:32

The easiest way to do what you want is to modify the original document and re-create the document from that. PDF is a page layout description language. For all you know, the file might not even have the symbol embedded, but only a graphical representation of it. (Note, however, that the Acrobat viewer does a pretty good job of "guessing" a symbol from an installed font if a file contains a glyph that is neither embedded nor installed on the system.)

If you cannot change the original file, some programs might allow you to do the change. Acrobat Pro should be able to. (From what you wrote I don't know why your attempts failed.)

If not, you will have to change the file programmatically. (And that's where stackoverflow.com would come in) You can do this by using the Acrobat API or some other, proprietary commercial API or you could try using something like pdftk. (I have done neither and cannot further help you with that.)

Note that, usually, the easiest thing to do is to change the original document.

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@sbi: Thanks sbi. "Acrobat viewer does a pretty good job of "guessing" a symbol" - I opened this PDF in 5 different viewer and each viewer showed this char exactly same. Unfortunately I don't have original document. Also when I use Acrobat Pro to change char, i get this error : freeimagehosting.net/image.php?d8c8533f63.png –  understack Dec 18 '09 at 11:17
I didn't even know that many viewers exist! :) If you have access to Acrobat Pro, try tinkering with Preflight in order to find out what the symbol is embedded as. Sorry, but I can't help you any more than that with this issue. (You might want to try the comp.text.pdf newsgroup, though.) –  sbi Dec 18 '09 at 14:10

Acrobat Reader has 14 fonts included which do not need to be embeded or installed on your system to be viewed in a PDF.

The 14 fonts are:

Courier
Courier-Bold
Courier-BoldOblique
Courier-Oblique
Helvetica
Helvetica-Bold
Helvetica-BoldOblique
Helvetica-Oblique
Symbol
Times-Bold
Times-BoldItalic
Times-Italic
Times-Roman
ZapfDingbats

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Most likely you can open the file in Notepad and wade through the binary to find the text you need to change.

When I had a need to put an order number on a PDF after it was generated I had to include all the characters I might need to use in that number so that those characters would end up embedded in the PDF.

Therefore the string I had to put on the PDF to be found later had to be:

0123456789ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ-

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Checking the error message screenshot, I believe the issue is that you don't have the Zapf Dingbats font installed on your system, and so there is no way of embedding any extra characters from that font into the doc which it doesn't already contain (which is what you're effectively trying to do by changing the character).

You don't say what character you're trying to change the tickmark to, but you should be able to change the font to one you do have on your system, then edit the character to replace it with another from that font.

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