The designer did not supply the font and it is not available to me. I'm aware that if I edit a text layer in Photoshop with a missing font, I risk making the text blurry. However, if I'm NOT editing it, I believe Photoshop preserves the original font, so it should be ok (and will save considerable time looking for fonts on future projects).

I'm placing the .psd into an InDesign file (with other text/elements) and then exporting a printer-ready PDF. InDesign and the printer's preflight show no errors (they can't see that fonts are missing in the linked .psd file), but I'm wondering if the type will print any less crisply. I suspect that it won't appear any differently than fonts that ARE present/linked in the .psd file.

I am not flattening layers (in Photoshop or in exporting the PDF from InDesign, except for transparencies) or rasterizing text or converting text to shapes (in Photoshop). My guess is that if these steps are required for the sharpest printing quality, it would be required for ALL text, not just for the missing font. And perhaps that step isn't necessary/noticeable to the naked eye on printing.

  • I'd just try one & see if you get away with it - always aim to get your bad news early;) Either the 'display' rasterised version will survive as 'good enough' to print, or it won't; or the pdf will refuse to print because the font is missing - I'm not certain whether the pdf will simply carry over the existing rasterised version from Ps if the font is missing & I can't test that part..
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 13:25

3 Answers 3



The missing font will not render properly upon output.

When you output a Photoshop document for printing, the font data is read from the font file and included. Without that font data, you will get a "best guess" low resolution raster interpretation of the font. i.e. poor. Linking to a layered Photoshop document with InDesign is no different than outputting the file from Photoshop directly. InDesign merely reads the data, applies any transformations (done in InDesign) then outputs.

You can merely save the Photoshop file and the raster data will be saved. So, for web formats, it's fine (presuming you do not edit the type layer).

With this in mind, one way to get around a missing font is to flatten the Photoshop file. By flattening, you reduce the image to its raster preview and eliminate all need for font data.

My point is, if there's a missing font you will want to flatten the image. Otherwise, your described workflow will result in missing data, making it not suitable for commercial reproduction. if there's missing data, it will be obvious. The PDF doesn't show errors because in lieu of actual font data, InDesign has output the raster preview of the type....

Simply flatten and save as a copy, then use that copy for your InDesign layout.
Or, of course, get the font files.

It's never wise to send anything for commercial reproduction if you know a font is missing anywhere in the application chain. What may be "good enough" on your system is often woefully insufficient for an imagesetter/platemaker.

  • You say if there's missing data, it will be obvious. Will it be obvious on a proof printed out on a 300dpi home laser printer, or does it only become obvious when printed on professional equipment?
    – JasonAzze
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 21:28
  • Thank you, Scott. Could you clarify: why does flattening the .psd file before placing in InDesign result in higher rasterization quality than the rasterization that happens when exporting a PDF from InDesign (with the layered .psd file placed in it)? The printer tells me they just see that the resolution is 300 dpi. Does Photoshop just do a better job of rasterizing than InDesign?
    – Jasper
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 22:22
  • 1
    @Jasper Photoshop always does a better job rasterizing than InDesign (or Illustrator). Truth is it might be okay just outputting the linked layered file in InDesign - it's really dependent upon the actual art, type size, usage, etc.... but it's one of those things.. if there is a problem that's where it would be. For my own personal satisfaction, I always flatten such files in Photoshop and then place that flattened version into InDesign. Photoshop will, when needed, interpolate pixels. InDesign won't, ever.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 0:58
  • My general work ethic is to eliminate as many areas of error as possible... however, I'm also a firm believer in following the guidelines a print provider gives you. If your print provider tells you to merely ensure the file is at 300ppi and you really don't feel like taking the time to flatten the file in Photoshop and replace the link in InDesign, then all you need do is ensure the file is 300ppi. But get that in writing.. an email.. a text, etc. So if things turn out poor, you can compel them to reprint the job rather than you or your client being stuck with a reprint bill.
    – Scott
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 1:30


It will use one of your fonts that is different than what was intended but did not get embedded. Now if you should have that exact font then it should render okay but you may have to do some things to link it to the file first.


Usually but not always it will affect print quality if a font is “missing” for any reason.

If you are editing nothing it might make no difference but when you're "not editing the text layer" what exactly are you doing?

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