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PDF on-screen clarity of objects

Posted on 2002-06-25
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Last Modified: 2013-12-02
I've done a lot of work with PDF's and noticed that, regardless of how well the PDF's come out when printed, objects come out looking a little pixelated on-screen.

For example, if you type some text and create a PDF, the text is clear on-screen.  Try converting the same text to objects and making a second PDF and the resulting PDF looks slightly garbled.  While both PDF's will print the same, the text looks better than the objects on-screen.

My question is this:  Is there anything that can be done to improve the on-screen clarity of objects?  Or is this just something one must deal with when posting PDF files to the web?

Thanks in advance,
Dan
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Question by:DCS092999
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9 Comments
 
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by:DCS092999
ID: 7107943
By the way, I've observed these results no matter which software is used to create my original document and no matter which settings I've used in Distiller.
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weed earned 50 total points
ID: 7108433
The way i understand it is that the shapes arent anti-aliased but the unoutlined type is. That's because the type is just a font and gets displayed like any other font on screen. It's a bit different under an OS like OS X because its using display postscript (PDF being its native file format) and anti-aliases everything regardless of whether its recognized as type.
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by:Zeffer
ID: 7119770
In converting the text to an object are you  applying
a compression,(eg. jpeg)...this will degrade the clarity..what type of fonts are you using..for instance some programs(eg.CorelDraw) give you options for embedding and converting fonts..eg True type to Type 1(this will increase the file size but give better clarity..while subsetting type 1 fonts will decrease file size and quality)..do you have options in an objects settings panel?..if you do..play around with them.

Z
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by:weed
ID: 7120151
Vector objects are not compressed in a PDF. That's the whole point. Theyre treated like any other vector object.
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by:DCS092999
ID: 7120248
Thanks for the answer Weed, sorry for the long wait on the reply, it's been a hectic week.  Yeah, you're right about OSX - when I went home and looked at the same PDF on my new iMac it looked fine.

OK, so when a client complains about their logo (which they provided as objects) looking garbled when they view a PDF I created, I should tell them there's nothing that can be done about it's appearance on a PC short of maybe recreating the different parts of their logo as glyphs in a font, right?
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by:weed
ID: 7120256
It shouldn't look really bad on anyones screen, but if theyre complaining there's a sure fire way to make sure youre not doing anything wrong. Dont use Distiller. I assume its an Illustrator creation. So from Illustrator save it, with PDF compatibility turned on and no compression. Rename the .ai to .pdf and send them that file.

Is the logo primarily text or are there other elements? Are any parts of it raster based?
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by:DCS092999
ID: 7165553
Oh man, Weed, I'm so sorry.  I'd forgotten about this question entirely - it's been crazy at my office the last few weeks, sorry.

In answer to your reply:

In my opinion, I don't think it looks "really bad" on screen, but then again I'm used to looking at PDF files all the time and my client is not.

The logo is noticably not anti-aliased on a PC screen, just as I think you said is true of all non-text objects in PDF files.  (But it looks perfectly fine on OSX.)  Their logo is all vector and consists of (1) a simple shape next to (2) some text they apparently had converted to objects.  Thus, on their PC screens, the letters (as objects) within the logo aren't anti-aliased and contrast noticably with all the anti-aliased text on the map.

This is true even when I open the .ai file directly in Acrobat.

Here's an example of their logo, "Go Montgomery", on a map:
http://www.co.mo.md.us/Go_Montgomery/documents/Go_Montgomery_map.pdf

I'm guessing that the answer is your first response - that when viewed on PC's there's nothing I can do to get the objects within the PDF to appear anti-aliased on screen.  Unless you've got any other ideas?
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by:weed
ID: 7165661
Im in OS X so the example looks fine to me. I think all the info thats fit to spit has been covered.
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by:DCS092999
ID: 7165775
Thanks for your help
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