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I'm looking at a document both in InDesign and, after exporting to PDF, in Acrobat, and the strangest thing is happening to my font; some letters are looking different than they should when shown at 100% but look normal at 200%.

Look at the example below on some select words from the document: the m, n, i and l all look like they have a few pixels of a descender when viewed at 100%. When I zoom into 200%, the problem corrects itself. Any idea what's causing this? I'd like to get it fixed, because this PDF will likely be viewed on computer and not printed.

Screenshots of the two zooms

If it means anything, the font is ITC Stone Sans.

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Have you tried changing the anti-aliasing? –  Alex Sep 5 '11 at 21:59
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Note that zeros in 100% and 200% are different as well. This might be caused by poor hinting (sub-pixel interpolation not included within font). –  Krom Stern Sep 6 '11 at 10:53
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3 Answers

Paul, if your text is on the same layer as other graphics, Indesign is converting your text to outline so it can trap your text and graphics together. Create a new layer in Indesign and make sure that it sits on top, then select and move your text to the that top layer and export to PDF. Your text should look clean in the PDF.

Cheers! Hope this helped.

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As Alan Gilbertson say in his answer, this is probably problems related to display the vector information well on screen. If you try to print on paper, it will look perfect. If the PDF you create is mainly for printing, this is not a problem, but if it is mainly for sharing electronically, you might consider using a different font that looks better.

I suspect the technical problem might be related to poor hinting (sub-pixel interpolation not included within font) as commented by Krom. This is explained quite well on Wikipedia: Font hinting.

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This is an artifact, obviously, of wretchedly failed attempts to render vector information accurately on screen.

The problem may be specific to Stone Sans. Have you tried experimenting with something else? Something in the hinting information (although I don't know why you'd want to hint the bottoms of sans strokes) would be the hot suspect.

If the problem is more general than that one typeface, I'd look to your GPU vendor for an update, and would try the PDF on a couple of other systems.

I don't have Stone installed on my nearby systems, but I checked a number of sans of about the same stroke weight as your sample and could not see any issue. I'll be very interested in what you find out after trying the above, though.

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We get this all the time, most often in Frutiger. We just tell the client "It's a PDF artifact; it prints fine" and the client is happy. –  Lauren Ipsum Sep 7 '11 at 12:13
    
"It's a PDF artifact" -- I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said that to a client! –  Alan Gilbertson Sep 8 '11 at 5:24
    
You and me both. We could either go into PDF Archaeology or start up PDF Warehouse 13. :) –  Lauren Ipsum Sep 8 '11 at 12:05
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Sounds like a great idea for a TV program: "PDF CSI" –  Alan Gilbertson Sep 9 '11 at 0:04
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