How to correctly display text in PDF documents?


This is about TEXT as TEXT, there is another kb about TEXT as GRAPHICS

Incorrect display can take three forms when fonts have not been embedded.

  • Text is not readable and has random characters. This depends on the viewer. Some viewers will have this problem, others not.
  • Text is readable but a different font is being used.
  • Individual characters are rotated. This is treated in a separate kb (see kb 452).


Text is not readable: with the current way BricsCAD encodes text in pdf not all viewers will look up characters as intended. While one viewer will show perfectly readable text, the text will show up but will contain seemingly random characters in another viewer. We are looking for ways to fix this.

The font has been substituted: This behavior is as designed. If a viewer does not find the font in use it will use another one. This substitution can happen in a viewer, but it can also happen when printing, so the fact that a PDF looks correct in a viewer does not mean it will print correctly. If this is considered a problem, it can be avoided by embedding the font. In viewers it can be avoided by restricting the fonts to a basic set consisting of: Courier, Courier Bold, Courier Oblique, Courier Bold-Oblique, Helvetica, Helvetica Bold, Helvetica Oblique, Helvetica Bold-Oblique, Times Roman, Times Bold, Times Italic, Times Bold-Italic and Symbo l and ZapfDingbats. For printers it is more difficult to predict.


A straightforward solution for both issues is to embed the fonts in use. This will increase the size of the PDF somewhat, but it will provide reliable output.

  • Viewers that will display non-embedded fonts with random characters:
    PDF Architect and Microsoft Edge Viewer.
  • Viewers that are more tolerant towards non-embedded fonts and will still display them correctly:
    Adobe Acrobat and Foxit.