I inserted text into a PDF document with Preview in a custom font I had installed on my Mac. When I transferred it to my iPad and opened it with Notability, to my horror all the text had been removed. When I opened it in PDF Expert, it was there but the font had reverted to Helvetica. Naturally this isn't something I want, as I expect the recipient to see exactly what I'm seeing in a PDF file.

I presume this happened because Preview wasn't embedding the font into the PDF (although strangely the file size became significantly larger, suggesting that it had). What am I doing wrong, and what's the correct way to embed a font that you use in a PDF file?

1 Answer 1


It appears as though to embed a font in Preview (or at least to ensure that it shows up on an iPad when the iPad does not have the same font installed), you need to perform the following:

  1. Go to File > Print...
  2. Click PDF on the bottom let, and click Save as PDF
  3. Save as a new PDF file

The new PDF file will have the font correctly embedded in it. You may also be able to export as a PDF (again) directly from Preview, although I have not tried this.

The reason that it doesn't get "embedded" upon saving likely has something to do with the text fields staying editable in the PDF. Once you export the PDF, you are unable to edit the text fields any longer in Preview, but the fonts are embedded.

  • How can one list a) the fonts embedded in a pdf, b) the fonts that preview loads from a local .../Fonts/... ? (a new question if you like). Thanks
    – denis
    Sep 1, 2020 at 10:46
  • That's a great question To view the fonts inside a PDF file though you can use Acrobat or by using the a command line tool. I have not looked too much into how Preview links the fonts to the system or if that's possible in regular PDF files. I tried it out just now and Acrobat seemed to show the same thing (that the font is an "embedded subset") either way, which is strange.
    – Oion Akif
    Sep 1, 2020 at 11:58
  • Thanks. My real problem is that Wikipedia pages with math look good in html (firefox) but fat and ugly in preview "download pdf". (Macos 10.10 old fonts ?) pdffonts wikipediaxx.pdf lists them all as emb yes, don't understand; will post as a new question ... mañana.
    – denis
    Sep 1, 2020 at 13:14
  • That's strange. All the math fonts look fine to me when I use preview to save a Wikipedia page. Feel free to ping me here if you post a question.
    – Oion Akif
    Sep 1, 2020 at 20:55
  • Could you take a look at ugly-math-in-preview-of-wikipedia-pdfs please ? Maybe just versionitis (version disease)
    – denis
    Sep 2, 2020 at 10:13

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