Saturday, February 04, 2012

When a PDF 'Scales Down', Truncates or Appears with a White Band of Empty Space

Here is a curious problem that hits iWork users occasionally. A reader of this blog, Carles, wrote to me a few days ago: 
I am trying to create a magazine. I am using Pages in spite of everybody telling me to use InDesign. Pages is easy and gives the documents a unique look. The printer asked me for a pdf in cmyk. I use Pages '09. I followed all of your instructions and read all the comments. I created a PS and then I processed it through the Distiller. But a white band appeared around the document. I tried to change the sizes but it didn't work. Here you can see the screen shot: (Editor: see picture of the PDF, black lines indicate margins of the document after processing). I don't know what to do.

That looked familiar. I had this problem with my magazine and couldn't find a solution for some time.

This is how to tackle it.

1. First of all, if you have other documents or a multi-page document like a brochure or a magazine, check if the same thing happens to all the pages. In my magazine, out of 32 pages two or three suddenly started producing PDFs that 'scaled down' – appeared smaller, truncated with a white band of empty space around a section of the PDF.

If other documents appear ok, then there is some bug hiding in the document – a code, a corrupt font, something else that you don't even realise is there. 

To get rid of it, create a new document from scratch reproducing or copy-pasting the elements of your design in the new document. Process via Distiller and see if the problem is gone. 

2. Try making PDFs at each stage of designing your document. Create a coloured shape and make a PDF, import the photo – and make a PDF, type in text - and make a PDF. Check at what stage this 'scaling down' occurs. 

In my case it was a corrupt font. I deleted it from the Font Library and then reinstalled a fresh file with the same font. 

3. If this doesn't help, try using someone else's Distiller, the printers' for example, to see if the problem is with your version (or copy) of Distiller.

4. And of course the simplest solution is to crop your PDF as it came out. Cut out the white band and only leave your document. Acrobat has a Crop Document tool. 

5. And another trick: import your PDF with the white band into a new blank Pages document, resize it so that it fills the whole page, with the white band outside of the document, and produce a new PDF from that document. That's what one of my printers did when I had this problem. I gave up and just took the 'scaled down' PDFs to them - they 'scaled it up' without reprocessing or doing anything else to it.

Read this earlier post from 2007 about a different problem with corrupt fonts.

Carles posted his question as a comment on From Pages to CMYK PDF article, his image is used with permission.

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