I created a standalone latex document, saved the figure as PDF and want to import in inkscape as vector graphic. Internal import fails to reprodce some symbols, e.g special letters on the labels of the figure. However, Poppler/Cairo import works.

When I do Poppler / Cairo import, is the imported PDF still a vector graphic or do I loose this property?

  • @μίαμπύρα The curves are indeed uneditable, but thats ok for me. Also they remain sharp when zooming in and I can at least select individual pieces such as numbers on x axis. However, when I save to pdf in inkscape, the figure appears as one block, i.e, individual curves such as numbers on the x axis can no longer be selected individually which suggestes it is no longer vector based, right?
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 20 at 13:50
  • I meant the following: 1. Importing figure using Poppler, saving as PDF. In the PDF, the figure appears as one block. 2. Importing figure using internal import, saving as PDF. In the PDF, the figure elements such as numbers are individually selectable.
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:13
  • The idea is to have individual figures (as PDFs), combining them into a nice picture in Inkscape that can be included in latex again as single PDF.
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


I can't answer your question directly, because it would require access to the original PDF. There are too many variables/unknowns. The construction of graphics in PDFs can be complex, and different software uses different methods.

However . . .

The easiest way to find out what objects are in Inkscape is in the Status bar along the bottom of the screen..

Select an object, and then check what it says. See this example below. Here I am clicking on several objects, and you can see what they are written in the Status bar at the bottom.

enter image description here

There are several possibilities: a rectangle, a circle, an ellipse, a polygon, a path, an image (means it's raster image), a clone, clipped objects, groups, masked objects. Note that groups, clips, masks, and clones can be released to check what they contain - potentially these could contain vector or raster elements, or both.

Also note that you can even get combinations these: for example, clones of groups, masked/clipped clones, clones used as masks, etc. The possibilities are almost endless.

If you can't physically select an object, it may be locked. Check the the Layers and Objects panel. Objects/layers which are locked will show with a lock icon.

Edit - sorry I forgot to mention text objects. Text can be outlines or editable text objects. Letters and symbols might exist in clones. All of this can get very complicated making it difficult to edit a PDF. Also worth noting that PDFs are not really intended for editing - it's a publishing format. You also need to remember that Inkscape is an SVG editor, not a PDF editor. I don't know how practical this is or if it is possible or even if it would work, but perhaps you could look to see if there is a way to export your LaTex document as an SVG. At least this way, it will avoid the PDF step, which if I'm honest sounds like a potential recipe for disaster.

  • So as long as the type of the object is not "image", it is probably a vector like object?
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 20 at 21:15
  • @Simon Yes, most of the time.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 20 at 23:16

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