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Should you subset or embed?

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Should you subset or embed?

When creating a pdf (portable document file) you may have noticed the option to subset fonts. Maybe you’re wondering what subsetting is and/or if you should do it? Basically, you have two options—either full font embedding or subset font embedding.

Ok, let’s start with a couple of questions: is file size important? will the recipient of my file need to edit or modify the text?

If file size isn’t an issue then full font embedding is the way to go. This way the recipient can edit the file even if they don’t have this particular font (as long as they have software that allows editing of pdfs). The file size of the file is larger because the full font is now stored in the file. Keep in mind that many new OpenType fonts have exceptionally large character sets.

If file size is important—like for files that will be downloaded from a website—or if editing is not an issue, then subsetting the font is the right answer. The file size will be smaller because only the characters used in the document are stored in the file. (If the rececipeint has the same font and software that allows pdf editing then they will be able to edit your file).

By selecting either full font embedding or subsetting, viewing and/or printing your PDF will not be affected.

But what happens if I don’t embed or subset the fonts in my pdf? Well, the pdf viewer or reader software will try to emulate the font with a built font—most of the time this substitution looks like a cheap knock-off. The good news is this substitution will keep the text from reflowing. The bad news is it could totally change the look of the document. Because font information is not stored in the file, this will reduce the file size more than subsetting.

West Press’ talented staff is here to help you each step of the way – from graphic design to printing to mailing services to large format to website development. Contact West Press or your Account Executive at 520-624-4939 today.