I don’t like to convert text to curves every time I save a PDF for printing. I recently bumped into the article Outlining Fonts: Is it Necessary?, which defends that it’s not only unnecessary, but it’s actually better not to outline. My question is: if I’m 100% confident all fonts are embedded and I’m sending the PDF print-ready (nobody will need to open in another program to fix anything), would there be any risk?

I posted this question on a facebook group and a girl stated that some specific fonts don’t embed completely, they miss stuff like special chars like “ã” or uppercase. Is it truth? Never happened to me.

EDIT: Also, a girl just told me about two problems that could occur with embedded fonts:

  1. the font file (TTF or OTF) that's embedded could be corrupt and screw printing;
  2. the computer which sends the PDF to be printed could have a font of similar name and use it instead of the embedded font
  • 1
    Why are you under the impression you should outline all type for the PDF format? That's always only been necessary for EPS or native file formats (and still is).
    – Scott
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:00
  • InDesign will give you a clear warning when there is anything wrong with the font when trying to embed it. If it doesn't you are fine. The only exception I know is, when you want to lasercut a text in which case it needs to be converted. Jun 29, 2015 at 15:04
  • @Scott because it seems to me that most graphic designers think it’s safer to do so. Why do they think so? Is there any risk with embedding the fonts instead of making them curves?
    – juanpazos
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:21
  • @MarcusBlättermann I use mostly Illustrator.. could I have any issues with it?
    – juanpazos
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:55
  • Should be fine. Don’t have a font that can’t be embedded to test though. Jun 29, 2015 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


For PDF files outlining fonts is not necessary.

With the proper PDF job options, fonts are embedded into the PDF as live type. This allows the font to retain it's original hinting data. See here for an explanation on hinting: When is font hinting used for print?

With respect to this "girl on facebook"....

  • A corrupt font is as likely to happen as a corrupt file. Outlining type does nothing to prevent data transfer issues. It is just as likely that color profiles get corrupt as a type character gets corrupt. Thinking outline type prevents this is just folly.

  • Fonts embedded into PDF are given unique data names within the PDF. There's zero chance the user has a "font with the same name" which would alter the display of the actual PDF as it shows in Acrobat or Reader. The only time a font would be substituted for another is if the PDF were opened in some other application, such as Illustrator. However, if you send a PDF/X file for printing, the PDF/X file is used in apps such as Preps or TrapWise and rarely actually opened for editing in some other application. In addition, any printer worth their fees is going to be aware of when and how font substitutions happen. If they cause them, they better be able to fix them.

  • As for a PDF not containing some special character such as å -- that's pretty unlikely as well. The font is embedded in the PDF - either the entire font, or a subset of the characters used in the PDF. If you use å in the piece, then å will be embedded just like if you used S in the piece, the S is embedded. Embedding does not just randomly decide to not include a used character.

The only reason to ever outline type is to prevent font issues when opening the file in a different work environment. However, no other application or format embeds live type. This is the difference with the PDF format -- embedded fonts. PDF is designed to be a self-contained, all inclusive, format unlike other applications. If you were to send an .eps or .ai or .psd file, then yes, you need to also send the fonts or if not sending fonts, outline the type. But none of that is needed for the PDF format, especially not for PDF/X files.

All these reasons you are citing may be valid for other file formats but not for the PDF format.

  • Thanks a lot @Scott, this is all a pretty misty territory for me, so I feel quite relieved by your answer.
    – juanpazos
    Jun 29, 2015 at 20:04

As far as I am aware, it is not at all necessary, assuming all fonts have been embedded.

However, I will always include a rasterised (JPG) copy of the artwork when sent to the printers along with the PDF, Just to be SURE their software/RIP is rendering the pdf as expected.

Never rely on "It's supposed to" - things corrupt, versions change etc. You can't beat a jpg (other raster image formats are available!) as a digital proof.

  • So you think the possible errors I mentioned above are myths?
    – juanpazos
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:29
  • The reasons why it's good to vectorize your fonts is if a smart guy decides to open your PDF in Illustrator to make a change. If you want to make sure no one tries to modify your file and if the file is not a book, then why not simply do a "create outline" yes. And the suggestion of @Digital Lightcraft of sending a JPG WITH your PDF is excellent.
    – go-junta
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:27
  • 2
    But when outlining fonts you lose all hinting. See here: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/5874/… There's a very valid reason as to why you should not outline type unless you must.
    – Scott
    Jun 29, 2015 at 22:52
  • It's not recommended to go below 5pts font size because it's very hard to read, but again it's a question of priorities and preferences. Outlining can end up printing better on extra light fonts, especially if they're not printed at 100% density because of the angle of the color on the plates. Another thing you need to see to believe (eg. horrible at small size and/or not at 100% density!) forums.adobe.com/thread/489055
    – go-junta
    Jun 30, 2015 at 18:18

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