I have a PDF of a Ph.D. thesis in mechanical engineering, so there are lots of equations. No PDF app that I've tried on OS X (Preview.app,Adobe Reader, Skim, PDFPen) can show the equations properly; some symbols are missing (particularly integral signs). However, when I open the file in Windows (with PDF X-Change) the equations all appear right.

I don't know how the file was generated. Any idea of the cause of this issue?

2 Answers 2


Though Adobe Acrobat (and Adobe Reader) is the official standard tool for displaying PDFs, there are a variety of third-party tools that could have been used to create a given PDF. Though the output from such third-party tools can be passable, the underlying construction of the page layout can vary wildly.

Using Adobe Acrobat, it is possible to use [Cmd + d] to view the document properties, including what tool was used to generate the PDF. I'm not certain if Adobe Reader has the same functionality.

  • In Adobe Reader ⌘D brings up Document Proprieties and it does show PDF Producer information. Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 21:08
  • Thanks for the suggestion. It was created with pdflatex. But just to be clear, Adobe Reader on the Mac also cannot display equations properly. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 11:27
  • 1
    By definition, if Adobe Reader cannot display the page correctly, then pdflatex has failed to code the PDF properly. Possible solutions would be: 1) contact the author and suggest they use a different third-party PDF creator (or even use the full Acrobat product), or 2) ask someone that has Acrobat to edit the page (there are rudimentary tools for selecting and moving objects, and text can be added).
    – Vzzdak
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 13:25

Does the file display properly in Acrobat/Reader?

It is well known that there are crappy and very crappy PDF viewers out there, which can be overwhelmed with a particular PDF.

Second check (in Acrobat/Reader using Cmd-D to display the document properties dialog) is whether all fonts are embedded. Also check whether "using local fonts" is deactivated.

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