PDF titles as seen in web searches

Subject: PDF titles as seen in web searches
From: Shlomo Perets <shlomo2 -at- microtype -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 11:20:27 +0200

When searching for PDFs on the web, you may be surprised to see results displayed with titles that have random-looking letters, such as oooooo, aaaaa, ggggg, rrrrr, or even !#"%$.

A common reason for these strange-looking titles is missing DocInfo/metadata fields. In their absence, web indexing mechanisms resort to displaying the title using what seems to be the beginning of the content -- which may have duplicate text strings (sometimes used by applications/drivers to create a "bolded" version of the text), text-based shadow effects, decorative dingbats, special symbols or form field elements. Some font-related problems may also cause the underlying text to be very different from the text displayed in the PDF page.

For links to examples of some absurd PDF titles as returned by Google searches, see the current "Hmmm" at http://www.microtype.com (bottom of home page).

If your authoring application supports the definition of document metadata (Title, Subject, Author, Keywords etc) and carries this information to PDF (as is the case with FrameMaker, InDesign, Word+PDFmaker, among others) -- you're lucky, as you can set this info once and it is retained in the source document! If your authoring application does not support this, you can still assign a meaningful title to your PDF manually in Acrobat, when finalizing the PDF.

For more info/tips, see "PDF Best Practices #6: Helping Reader Orientation"

Other PDF-related items of interest can be found in http://www.microtype.com/Hmmms.html

Shlomo Perets

MicroType * http://www.microtype.com
FrameMaker, InDesign, Acrobat training & consulting * FM-to-Acrobat TimeSavers
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