PDFs from Word show differently in Reader 9 or Acrobat Pro 9

Subject: PDFs from Word show differently in Reader 9 or Acrobat Pro 9
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 11:52:35 -0500

Hey all. This might be old hat, but I wasn't previously aware and one of our QA guys just pointed it out to me.

Our company has had Win XP Pro as our standard desktop OS, and MS Office 2003 as our standard Office suite.

Some folks now have Office 2007 (not I, nor anyone at my location).

I create a certain document in Word 2003, and when it's been through the review mill, I generate a PDF for posting on the company website.

My habit, from many years of using various tools to create docs, is to print my Word (or Frame, or other...) file to a .PRN file, using "Adobe" as my printer instance. Then I run the resulting file through Acrobat Distiller to produce the final PDF.

The document in question had sat around for several days with no new change requests, so I generated my PDF and sent it to QA. Because I had been on vacation for a couple of days, the QA guy had taken the Word file and used Word 2007's "Safe as PDF" to generate his own PDF (to test the website link, etc.). He noticed that MY version had the top border of some tables missing, while his version (from the identical Word file) had the top borders properly displayed. ERK!!

I usually open PDFs in Acrobat Pro. I did so. The two files (my PDF and his PDF) looked identical to me - and I was about to say so... Then I thought to view in Adobe Reader 9 instead of Acrobat Pro.
Aha! The tops of several of my tables are indeed nekkid! His are fully clothed. Egad!

So much for my bullet-proof production method.

By comparison, though, his file was four times larger than mine for the same document... so apparently the top border on three tables needs a whole lotta kilobytes.

Just for fun, I opened HIS file in Acrobat Pro 9 and ran the "Advanced > PDF optimize" function on it.
The file shrank by half - leaving it still twice the size of my original to-PRN-then-through-Distiller file, but even after optimizing, his PDF still had tops on the offending tables. So, some Distiller option must strip table top borders (just some, not all). I don't recall seeing any options labelled as such in the Distiller interface...

All of that to say, view/validate your PDFs in Adobe Reader, and not just Acrobat Pro, 'cuz your customers are more likely to have Reader than Acrobat.


Kevin McLauchlan
Senior Technical Writer
SafeNet, Inc.
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