CID Identity H Fonts are Back?
Oh, woe is us! It appears that the CID font mess never really left us. Some of you may remember that when InDesign CS came out, all heck broke loose because it started to write its fonts in its PDF files using something called CID encoding. We don’t need to get into the technical details of CID, other than to say:
- CID font encoding is a valid way to write fonts (even if it was originally meant to be used only for Asian fonts with huge character sets), and all PostScript and PDF readers should be able to deal with it fine.
- Many “clone” RIPs couldn’t or can’t deal with it, and they would often barf unceremoniously on these PDF files.
- Adobe heard so many complaints about this that they changed the encoding in CS2.
That was supposed to be the end of the story. Sure, CS2 and CS3 would still encode Asian fonts with CID, but that was simply to be expected and people dealt with it.
But sometimes, every so often, in the middle of the night, right before a deadline… CID rears its head again in a PDF near you. Why?
Deb Roberti wrote to us today with such an issue, and after much searching, she had found the answer:
I know you can fix it by making a PostScript file and distilling that instead of Exporting directly to PDF but Adobe and the other web sites I visited insist that upgrading to CS3 will solve the CID problem altogether. However, I am using CS3, the font is only Frutiger and I was left annoyed and baffled til I found this web page.
In tiny type at the bottom of the page it says:
InDesign CS3 has a known issue that bullet characters, for instance bullets and hypens in a list, are listed as CID fonts in the PDF.
Wow! What the heck?! Bullets and hyphens cause CID? Yup. Even if you just type a bullet character (Option-8 on the Mac) and export a PDF usign File > Export, it gets converted into a CID “Identity H” font. You can see it if you open the file in Acrobat, choose File > Properties, and click on the Fonts tab:
It’s not just bullets; it happens with a number of different characters. I believe it has to do with characters that don’t actually exist inside the font you’re using, but which get referred to a different font. For example, most fonts don’t have a square root character, so the OS points to Symbol or something like that. I’m sure someone (Mr. Phinney?) can offer a better explanation. And perhaps it’s only on the Mac? I don’t know. But when this switcheroo happens, InDesign appears to revert back to its old behavior.
Now, once again: This should not be a problem. Most printers handle this just fine now. However, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it was causing headaches here and there, especially on older devices. But education and awareness is the first step in getting through the day without Ibuprofen, so I thought it’d be a good idea to pass Deb’s excellent discovery on to all our readers. Thanks, Deb!
Oh, workarounds! David, don’t forget the workarounds:
- You can print PDF via the Print dialog box (or create postscript and use Distiller).
- You can use a character that does appear in the font itself rather than a bullet or whatever.
- You can convert the character to outlines (ick).
- You can find a printer that doesn’t barf on these files; that shouldn’t be too hard here in the 21st century.
- If you are having a problem with this, let Adobe know and perhaps they’ll change it someday.