Acrobat’s “Fat Verts”

Alright, I’ve picked on Google enough. It’s Adobe’s turn; instead of just bitching though, I’ll offer up this amazing fix. I’m thrilled I’ve stumbled on this!

So for years I’ve been struggling with this issue, well not struggling, I think coping is a better word.

Using certain typefaces, when exporting a design document to PDF in either Illustrator or In-Design, all the uppercase “i’s” and upper and lowercase “L’s” are much wider than the accompanying type when viewed in Acrobat Reader.

It’s actually a display issue in Acrobat Reader and has to do with the way it handles the object’s display for web and computer screens. These will always print fine, but we live in the digital age of web and our clients view PDF proofs on their computer, so it’s quite an important issue.

In the past I’ve “coped” with this in one of three ways:

  1. First and most obvious, convert type to outlines
    Aaaand if that didn’t work:
  2. Change the type face with a similar face
    Or ( and this is the least feasible and unprofessional of the three):
  3. Instruct the client to disable Preferences>Page Display> Uncheck “Enhance Thin Lines” in Acrobat Reader:

These workarounds were always somehow acceptable to me in the past. I think as a designer you become accustomed to finding piecemeal workarounds. Time is money, there are deadlines to meet, we don’t have time for a software company to patch a bug. We find a workable alternative and press on, that’s our strength, “Problem Solvers”.

However this time I was throwing together a PDF portfolio for a job application (yes, let it be known that I occasionally nose around the industry for an internal position). Since I have personal stake in my own brand, I was not willing to make any sacrifices when it came to my typeface.

Here’s my logo rendered in In-design imported from illustrator (type was converted to outlines)

Here’s that same logo as it rendered in Acrobat reader:

Note the “i’s” and the top of the “L’s” in Design + Illustration

Yeah, frustrating.  so I decided to research this phenomenon further. For the record, I do feel bad now that I never researched this for my clients. I did however find a fix for this courtesy of Armin Vit here:

It’s a phenomenon known affectionately as Fat Verticles or Fat Verts for short.

Here’s the big synopsis:
Any letterform not rendering properly when exporting to PDF?

  1. Convert affected type to outlines
  2. Export that document to PDF, If any characters still render improperly (probably Upper Case “i’s” and lower case “L’s”  these are the most common troublemakers)
  3. In Illustrator or InDesign use the add point pen tool and add an additional point along the vertical sides of the character.

Like so,  in my case:

Export to PDF:

Stylin’! I’m  good to go!

A massive thanks to:
Armin Vit

-Chris Sagert


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

June 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Chris –
Thanks for this tip – very useful indeed. However, I discovered that while an extra point on either vertical was sufficient for the lower case letter ‘L’, I had to add several extra points on both vertical and horizontal sides for capital letter ‘i’. Hope this saves someone else some time!


June 10, 2011 at 1:20 am

Thanks so much Iain! I’m sure I’ll encounter this very issue soon enough. I’ll edit the post to include your technique.
I guess the moral of the story is add vector points until it works 😀

giovani casteluccireply
February 15, 2012 at 8:18 am

thank you, thank you, thank you! :)))

March 7, 2013 at 2:48 am

Thank you for actually taking the time to note this… damn Acrobat.

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