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Assume I have a screenshot in png format and make a copy of it in eps format by using ImageMagick.

I create two input file, namely ForPNG.tex and ForEPS.tex. ForPNG.tex imports the png image and is compiled by pdflatex. ForEPS.tex imports the eps image and is compiled by latex-dvips-ps2pdf.

The question is, which one produces the smaller pdf file in size?

In my experience, ForEPS.pdf will be smaller than ForPNG.pdf. But I am not sure whether it is a summary.

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This does not answer the actual question, so I post it as a comment: Actually, both approaches are not particularly good in producing small PDF files. If you aim at a small PDF, I suggest to compress the resulting PDF afterwards (e.g., using gs as suggested in How to make the PDFs produced by pdflatex smaller). I am pretty sure that any significant difference between both routes basically disappears after gs-compression. –  Daniel Jun 5 '11 at 14:49
Another route: Use something other than .png. It's a screen capture, so do you really need every bit preserved? Convert the .png file to a .jpg file using some graphics converter program. It's fairly easy to reduce the size of a typical screen shot by 2/3 or even more without too much loss of quality. –  David Hammen Jun 5 '11 at 19:24
There is a python-script called pdfsizeopt.py, code.google.com/p/pdfsizeopt which reduces the size of pdfs. I use it frequently, but with texlive 2010 you need to begin your *.tex-file with \pdfminorversion4 –  Keks Dose Jun 5 '11 at 19:55
@Daniel: I accept your comment as the answer. –  xport Jun 5 '11 at 20:10
@xport: Should I turn it into a real answer then? –  Daniel Jun 5 '11 at 22:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Despite my comment to the original question, I have now come to the conclusion that the latex-dvips-ps2pdf route produces smaller PDF files than pdflatex alone.

However, in my answer to How to make the PDFS produced by pdflatex smaller I suggested to use gs to compress the resulting PDF, which gets you a significant reduction in size. As ps2pdf is as well built on gs internally, one can also directly pass compression options to ps2pdf, so in the end it should not matter.

I made some quick experiments with a beamer presentation. In these experiments the pdflatex-gs route lead to only 1 percent smaller PDFs than latex-dvips-ps2pdf.

So the bottom line is: With respect to the goal of small PDF files, it doesn't matter.

You can just choose your frontend depending on other constraints (e.g., latex-dvips-ps2pdf if you use pstricks or pdflatex-gs to support transparencies in pgf/tikz images).

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PDF produced by latex->dvips->ps2pdf->gs is smaller than one produced by pdflatex->gs. –  xport Jul 9 '11 at 14:48

This whitepaper contains extensive discussion about the pros and cons of different ways of generating small PDFs from TeX, including pdftex, or tex-dvips-ps2pdf, or dvipdfm, or dvipdfmx. With and without subsequent size optimization using several tools (alone and in combination): ps2psdf, pdf enhancer, acrobat pro, pdfsizeopt, multivalent. Each of those tools have a bunch of different settings. With various tricks in the TeX source (image optimization, etc). They investigate various different types of document (image-heavy, text-heavy, etc).

The final recommended workflow for small PDFs is: 1. use pdftex; 2. process with pdf enhancer or acrobat pro if you have them; 3. process with pdfsizeopt (including the optional multivalent step).

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