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7,976 Views 19 Replies Last post: Mar 12, 2012 4:05 AM by osarusan RSS
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Level 0 20 posts since
Apr 17, 2011
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Mar 2, 2012 3:31 AM

PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

My interior PDF contains some transparencies, which I have been asked to flatten in order to resubmit my file.

 

The only problem is that whenever I try to flatten them, the text becomes garbled and unreadable.

 

I am using Acrobat X to edit the PDF file, and every time I use the flattener this happens, no matter what settings I use.

 

The images flatten fine, but all of the text turns into random characters. I have no idea what is happening and it is driving me crazy... I've been stuck on this stage for a whole week now, trying to fix the transparencies in the PDF while preserving the text. Can anyone help me???

Level 5 14,252 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
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1. Mar 2, 2012 5:48 AM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

Explain what you are actually doing to flatten the file Acrobat.  What preset did you use to create your file?  When there are transparency issues, PDF/X-1a or PDF/A are often very effective at removing them, because neither permits transparency.

 

You want to use the High Resolution Preset in what is called the Transparency Flattener. 

 

Is all the text effected, or just text in proximity of the images?

 

What type of file was your source/working file?  Doc or Docx?  There is a lot of junk in docx files, so it had been a docx, try saving that as a DOC (Word 97-2003 document).  What font were you using?

 

Here are some definitions that might give you some understanding of what might be happening:

  • Atomic regions: 1) the smallest intersections of objects related to transparency; 2) zones a page is divided into when it is flattened. Objects (text, vector, image) may be divided among atomic regions.
  • Complexity region: is an area that because of a complex transparency interaction, is rasterized.
  • Interacts with transparency: is describes objects that may not be transparent but which could be affected by the Transparency Flattener during flattening.
  • Transparency interaction: is the relationship and affect between a source of transparency and any other object that is a source of transparency or is very close, generally a point, to a source of transparency.
  • Transparency Flattener: is a component of Illustrator, Indesign and Acrobat 8+ Pro that processes live transparency along with the objects it interacts. It creates a an opaque object that has the appearance of the original, but which can be rendered as PostScript.

 

When you flatten the file, you see the garbled text:  are you seeing in your PDF or when you upload it and look at it in the Interior Reviewer?  (The Interior Review is not reliable, especially with files containing images.

 

Walton

Level 3 576 posts since
Sep 24, 2009
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4. Mar 2, 2012 7:52 AM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

The version of Essays1743 I downloaded from dafont.com is chock full of errors that cause it to fail validation, such as outlines that are self-intersecting or have the wrong direction.  My guess is that the glyphs with self-intersecting outlines are being rejected by Acrobat when it examines the file, and something else is being substituted in their place.

 

On the version I downloaded from the author's site (on the dafont.com page, click the "site" link and navigate to the author's Essay font page), the regular and italic fonts pass validation.  I'd bet those will will fix the garbled text issue.  The bold variants from the author's site do not pass validation, however.

 

I use Scribus (Linux version) to create covers, and have one that stacks up CMYK object, a TIF file with JPEG compression and an alpha channel, a PNG with transparency, and text.  The PDF passes X-3 validation as output directly from Scribus.

 

Scribus does have some wonkiness handling PNG transparency and layer transparency when outputting to PDF, but none of the things I've seen it do sound like the problem you described (garbled text).

Level 5 9,269 posts since
Aug 22, 2008
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5. Mar 2, 2012 7:57 AM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

Unfortunately, the problem may have originated with the PDF creator (there are things in the PDF specification that freeware solutions ignore).  Edit: I was also going to suggest the font itself, but that was just covered above.

 

The only things I can suggest trying (if you haven't tried them already) are to use document fonts, discard hidden/unused data layers and data, convert all text to outlines, and deselect clipping when flattening in Acrobat.  If that's no good, then the next (last) thing I would try is doing it with Acrobat 8 Pro.  Acrobat X (and, as many have discovered, Adobe Reader 10.1.1 and later) are more rigid about compliance to Adobe's PDF specifications (probably in response to the number of free PDF tools popping up), so an older version of Acrobat can sometimes handle third-party PDFs better (I have platforms with Acrobat Pro 8 and 6 in my shop for just that reason.)

 

Hope that helps.  Good luck!

Level 3 576 posts since
Sep 24, 2009
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8. Mar 2, 2012 8:55 AM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

I've been able to reproduce the problem.  There is definitely something strange going on with the font, but haven't tracked it down yet.  Given the rustic nature of the font, outlines may be the best bet.

Level 5 14,252 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
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10. Mar 2, 2012 9:05 AM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

Just for your information (from Mastering InDesign, by Pariah S. Burke):

 

Convert All Text to Outlines Don’t gloss over this one. At first glance, most design and print pros tend to think, Oh, I know all about converting type to outlines. That may be true for converting type to outlines in general, but do you know the unique considerations inherent in doing it during flattening? When type interacts with transparency one of two things must happen: It gets rasterized, or, preferably it converts to outlines and becomes part of the divide or clip flattening methods; sometimes type even becomes a clipping path and contains a section of a raster image. Those things are going to happen regardless of whether this box is checked. What this box really does is decides how the rest of the type is treated.

When type is converted to outlines, it can get heavier-thicker, boldlike—onscreen and on some low- to mid-level printers (not on imagesetters). If type that doesn’t interact with transparency isn’t outlined, if it’s left as live type, then suddenly a vertical half of a paragraph or even a few letters within a word can appear bolder than surrounding text just because they had strips of blended art close to them. Conversely when type is rasterized, it rarely gets thicker. In fact, once in a blue moon, it appears thinner. So converting all text to outlines might not save you from type of visually disparate weights on your desktop and proof printers. Outline type is also slower to print.

So, which should you use—Convert All Text to Outlines on or off? I don't know. I can’t see your document. Proof the flattening in the Flattener Preview panel before sending a document to print on your desktop or proof printer. You can use different flattener presets per spread (see below), so set an overall document preset, then spot-assign different presets to handle unique situations.

For final output, I recommend leaving this option off as I’ve yet to see the thickening or thinning issues appear with good-quality imagesetters or platesetters. Even though PDFs created either by printing or by exporting from InDesign do exhibit the same issues onscreen and in desktop or proof printers, just as they do when output directly from InDesign to desktop printers, I’ve never seen a PDF print thick (or thin) text to high-end devices.

 

If it works and the proof is good, let us know!

 

Walton

Level 3 576 posts since
Sep 24, 2009
Currently Being Moderated
11. Mar 2, 2012 12:33 PM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

Sent you a PM with a possible solution.

Level 5 11,782 posts since
May 4, 2008
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12. Mar 2, 2012 2:07 PM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

osarusan wrote:

 

One thing that does worry me is that I do plan on making this an ebook as well as a print book... for that, isn't it better to have fonts that are actual text rather than outlines? If it doesn't matter then that's fine... but if it is going to matter I should probably work on finding a solution in the meantime...

 

That depends where you plan to distribute your ebook. For an ePub (required by Apple, Kobo, Nook, etc) to be valid, it cannot have embedded fonts and most e-readers allow the reader to select their own fonts from a list of system fonts available on the device itself. If a decorative header, for example, in a specific font is desired, it is better to create this as an image.

 

 

Michelle

-------------

Odyssey Books -- editing, cover design and book formatting services to help you on your publishing journey.

Level 5 14,252 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
Currently Being Moderated
13. Mar 2, 2012 4:11 PM in response to: osarusan
Re: PDF and Transparencies (text becomes garbled)

A very elegant series of fonts that you might be interested in are the IM Fell Revival Series: http://iginomarini.com/fell/.

 

Walton

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