Font embedding and substitution

A font can be embedded only if it contains a setting by the font vendor that permits it to be embedded. Embedding prevents font substitution when readers view or print the file, and ensures that readers see the text in its original font. Embedding increases file size only slightly, unless the document uses CID fonts. a font format commonly used for Asian languages. You can embed or substitute fonts in Acrobat or when you export an InDesign document to PDF.

You can embed the entire font, or just a subset of the characters used in the file. Subsetting ensures that your fonts and font metrics are used at print time by creating a custom font name. That way, for example, your version of Adobe Garamond®, not your service provider’s version, can always be used by the service provider for viewing and printing. Type 1 and TrueType fonts can be embedded if they are included in the PostScript file, or are available in one of the font locations that Distiller monitors and are not restricted from embedding.

When a font cannot be embedded because of the font vendor’s settings, and someone who opens or prints a PDF does not have access to the original font, a Multiple Master typeface is temporarily substituted: AdobeSerifMM for a missing serif font, and AdobeSansMM for a missing sans serif font.

The Multiple Master typeface can stretch or condense to fit, to ensure that line and page breaks in the original document are maintained. The substitution cannot always match the shape of the original characters, however, especially if the characters are unconventional ones, such as script typefaces.


For Asian text, Acrobat DC uses fonts from the installed Asian language kit or from similar fonts on the user’s system. Fonts from some languages or with unknown encodings cannot be substituted; in these cases, the text appears as bullets in the file.

Font characters
If characters are unconventional (left), the substitution font will not match (right).


If you have difficulty copying and pasting text from a PDF, first check if the problem font is embedded (File > Properties > Font tab). For an embedded font, try changing the point where the font is embedded, rather than sending it inside the PostScript file. Distill the PDF without embedding that font. Then open the PDF in Acrobat and embed the font using the Preflight fixup.

Accessing and embedding fonts using Distiller

When converting a PostScript file to PDF, Distiller needs access to the file’s fonts to insert the appropriate information in the PDF. Distiller first searches the PostScript file for Type 1, TrueType, and OpenType fonts. If the font isn’t embedded in the PostScript file, Distiller searches additional font folders. Distiller searches the following font folders in Windows:

  • /Resource/Font in the Acrobat folder

  • /Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/Fonts

    Distiller searches the following font folders in Mac OS:

  • /Resource/Font in the Acrobat folder

  • /Users/[user name]/Library/Fonts

  • /Library/Fonts

  • /System/Library/Fonts

    The Acrobat installation includes width-only versions of many common Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fonts, therefore Distiller can then access these fonts in Acrobat. Make sure that the fonts are available on your computer. (In Windows, choose Complete when you install Acrobat, or choose Custom and select the Asian Language Support option under the View Adobe PDF category. In Mac OS, these fonts are installed automatically.)

    For information on including fonts in a PostScript file, see the documentation that came with the application and printer driver you use to create PostScript files.


Distiller does not support Type 32 fonts.

To specify other font folders for Distiller to search, in Acrobat Distiller, choose Settings > Font Locations. Then in the dialog box, click Add to add a font folder. Select Ignore TrueType Versions Of Standard PostScript Fonts to exclude TrueType fonts that have the same name as a font in the PostScript 3 font collection.


To provide Distiller with access to a font folder that has been moved, use this dialog box to remove the folder listed in its old location and add it in its new location.

Preview PDFs without local fonts

You can create a printable preview of your document that substitutes default fonts for any text formatted in fonts that are available on your local computer but are not embedded in the PDF. This preview can help you decide whether to embed those local fonts in the PDF, to achieve the look you want for your document.

  • In the Preferences dialog box under Categories, select Page Display, and then deselect Use Local Fonts.


    If a font cannot be substituted, the text appears as bullets, and Acrobat displays an error message.

Find PostScript font names

If you need to enter a font name manually on the Fonts panel of the Adobe PDF Settings dialog box, you can use a PDF to find the exact spelling of the name.

  1. Use any application to create a one-page document with the font.
  2. Create a PDF from the document.
  3. Open the PDF in Acrobat DC, and choose File > Properties > Fonts.

  4. Write down the name of the font, using the exact spelling, capitalization, and hyphenation of the name as it appears in the Font Info dialog box.

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