Re: Fuzzy screen captures in Adobe PDFs

Subject: Re: Fuzzy screen captures in Adobe PDFs
From: Christi Carew <christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 08:44:59 -0800

The problem:

>We have been having a problem when viewing and printing out PDF versions of
>our manuals that contain screen captures.
>When taking bitmap screen captures using FullShot, it appears that large
>screen captures (or even portions of a full-screen) become "fuzzy" or blurry
>in appearance when viewed with Acrobat reader if the captures are reduced
>to below 60% of their original size. If the capture is kept at a larger
>size, it looks fine, but if it is a full-screen capture, it is too large to
>print so we scale them down.
>The reduced capture prints fine in Adobe Illustrator and in Framemaker. But
>when a PDF of the document is made, these large, reduced captures look poor.
>Only Acrobat 3.01 has been used. Is it possible that Acrobat 4 will solve
>this problem?

My solution:
I had this problem a little while ago, and I finally realized why it
happened. Hopefully, I can explain it clearly enough!

Your screen displays things at 72dpi. So when you take a screen shot it is
at 72 dpi.
When you make the screen shot smaller in size, you have two options:
1. keep the dpi at 72
2. increase the dpi

If you keep the dpi at 72, the program in which you are resizing the
graphic will will 'resample' the image to smooth it out. Your monitor can't
really display all the "smoothing" out, so it just looks fuzzy. However,
your printer can print the "smoothing", so it looks fine.

If you increase the dpi, you don't resample. In this method, the graphics
might look fuzzy in the pdf at 100%, but if you zoom in then they appear
just fine. And they print fine too.

When I had to choose _one_ way to do something for both print and pdf, I
chose the second way. I was able to disable (or turn off) resampling in
Adobe Photoshop. Then, if users complained that they couldn't read the
graphics on the screen, we can tell them to zoom in (or print). Otherwise,
they can only see them well if they print.

I hope that makes sense. If not, let me know and I can try again. =)

Christi Carew
Technical Writer

christi -at- sageinst -dot- com
p. 831-761-6565
f. 831-761-2452

Sage Instruments
240 Airport Blvd.
Freedom, CA 95019

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