Acrobat Font Rendering


Person that uses a Mac
Since switching over to my PowerBook for 95% of my computer work I haven't messed with Acrobat and instead usually use Preview... basically because it's faster and looks nicer, even if it doesn't have all the "features" Acrobat has. However, while working on a PDF version of my resume and today while trying to use some of Acrobat's highlighting features, I've really started to notice how bad Acrobat's font rendering and smoothing is compared to Preview. Here are a couple comparisons:

Font smoothing in Preview (Helvetica & Lucida Grande):


Font smoothing in Acrobat (Helvetica & Lucida Grande):


Helvetica Neue in Preview (looks like it does when printed):


Helvetica Neue in Acrobat:


This is pretty bad when I send PDF pages that I took the time to layout properly and the recipient is using Windows and will be stuck looking at fonts like that. They both print out exactly the same, regardless of how it looks on screen, but Preview always looks more like the printed result than Acrobat.

The Acrobat shots were with font smoothing and CoolType turned on... obviously it looks much worse with it off. All screenshot are from my PowerBook with Medium font smoothing. Acrobat looks the same on both the Mac and Windows... it does not matter if the PDF was made with Acrobat Pro or Apple's PDF support.

How do professionals rely on Acrobat?
[edit] I just realized you already tried the font smoothing options in the Preferences -- sorry! [/edit]

I've had font-shifting issues and what-not in Acrobat since I started using it years ago. I can't really say what will or will not help, but if it's possible, you may want to try a similar but different font and see what results you get.

I think Acrobat's font-smoothing engine is overactive -- you'd think they'd have crystal-clear, perfect font smoothing after 7 versions.
btoth said:

How do professionals rely on Acrobat?
Adobe's primary focus is printing. The professionals who rely on Acrobat rely on to assure that documents print the same everywhere. Where quality printed documents are not a priority, you will find .pdf files created using a variety of applications. As for me, I prefer Acrobat on the Mac because it virtually never surprises me. FWIW, Acrobat on Windows has surprised me.
Yeah, PDFs were never really meant for on-screen display. When I need to send my resume in digital form, I usually use RTF. It has all the layout options I need (not all accessible through TextEdit, but AppleWorks does a great job saving them), and has good cross-platform compatibility.

Remember that Acrobat's font smoothing predates all OS-level smoothing systems, and was designed to run on systems that are about a decade old at this point (some even older). They surely could tweak acrobat to use a given OS's native smoothing, but that would sacrifice cross-platform consistency. That might make this kind of distribution even more annoying — at least now you know exactly what your recipient will see.
ElDiabloConCaca said:
I think Acrobat's font-smoothing engine is overactive -- you'd think they'd have crystal-clear, perfect font smoothing after 7 versions.
Agreed. I also agree that that font smoothing is terrible. I use Preview all the time.