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I feel that PDF documents when intended to be uploaded to the Internet should be of a minimal final size in bytes. Many strategies exist to create a small document:

  1. Pay attention to the size of the embedded raster images.

  2. Create diagrams with tikz or pstricks and avoid external applications that can create unwanted big files. Using tikz or pstricks provides access to an almost unlimited control of the properties of a specific object. For instance, creating a point A of coordinates (1,1) should be preferred to a point A of coordinates (1.0000000,1.00000000), that you cannot control in many applications.

  3. Pay attention to the fonts used in your documents. Some fonts contain a coding for a single size and are then scaled, when used in titles or equivalents. Some other fonts contain a coding for different size, making the document a bit larger. You may observe a non negligible difference.

I am interested in this 3rd point: have some of you investigated the best fonts for smaller PDF files?

Edit Compress.SmallPDF sounds like a good online solution to efficiently compress pdf files for free.

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your question seems to be about fonts, so the title should reflect that. –  Vivi Aug 23 '10 at 4:52
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you are right but but maybe we should open it to all the possible tricks. Thanks –  pluton Aug 23 '10 at 13:27

6 Answers 6

up vote 54 down vote accepted

There are a number of tricks for getting optimized pdfs. Many of them are implemented in the tool pdfsizeopt. With some patches (posted in the pdfsizeopt bugtracker) this tool can run on all my tex-generated pdfs (and nearly all of the non-tex-generated ones). I use the commandline:

python ./pdfsizeopt.py --use-pngout=true --use-jbig2=true --use-multivalent=true\
    --do-unify-fonts=false filetocompress.pdf

I use --do-unify-fonts=false even though it produces slightly larger pdfs, because of a bug where a few glyphs are not displayed with certain pdf viewers (windows adobe reader, for example).

There are indeed various things you can do during document production with tex, to make sure that the compressed pdf ends up as small as possible: several of these are discussed in the EuroTeX 2009 White paper about pdfsizeopt (available from the above link).

As regards fonts, pdfsizeopt will recode fonts to the very compressed CFF format, and take care of subsetting and duplication issues. I haven't investigated deeply, but in my tests it seems that of the 2 options for type 1 encoded T1 (multilingual) tex fonts, the Latin Modern fonts generally produce significantly larger PDFs than the CM-Super version (which is unfortunate, because Latin Modern is superior in just about every other way (see this question). I just did a quick experiment and this difference in size seems to be only for the pre-pdfsizeopt pdfs: after pdfsizeopt, Latin Modern is the same or smaller than CM-Super.

Using fonts that don't have optical scaling will indeed produce a smaller PDF, but I don't recommend it because if you are using multiple sizes then the non-optically scaled fonts will look much worse.

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5  
About Latin Modern: most of the information in latin modern is encoded as subroutines instead of directly into the glyphs. This makes the total font size smaller, but it makes creating an efficient subset of the font a lot harder. As a consequence, most (if not all) Type1 subsetting routines do not have enough code to create a nice small subset for latin modern Type1 fonts. –  Taco Hoekwater Aug 23 '10 at 6:52
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@Taco: I wrote something like that in my answer to the previous question. I just checked, and it seems that pdfsizeopt is smarter than most (if not all) Type1 subsetting routines! –  Lev Bishop Aug 23 '10 at 7:31
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pdfsizeopt seems to have been taken down. –  giordano Oct 11 '13 at 21:36
    
@giordano the python files are now at github.com/pts/pdfsizeopt but Péter is waiting to resolve the DMCA issues before putting the other files back. –  Lev Bishop Oct 12 '13 at 12:34
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@Colas That's a message from multivalent tool.pdf.Compress and you should ignore it. It produces a "compact PDF" file, that is not a true PDF and can't be read by anything other than multivalent tools (unfortunately, since it generally is significantly smaller, due to using bzip2 compression and other sensible but not-standard-conforming techniques). –  Lev Bishop Oct 21 '13 at 16:29

If for some reason you don't want to use pdfsizeopt: both XeTeX and LuaTeX typically generate smaller PDF files than pdfTeX because OpenType fonts are already encoded in either CFF or TrueType outlines.

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Presumably one also has to switch to OpenType/TrueType fonts for using XeTeX or LuaTeX to be of any use on this front? –  SamB Nov 30 '10 at 1:19

There is the program pdfopt provided by Ghostscript which converts the PDF in the official web optimised format. This (quote from man pdfopt) puts the elements of the file into a more linear order and adds "hint" pointers, allowing Adobe's Acrobat(TM) products to display individual pages of the file more quickly when accessing the file through a network (unquote).

The usage is straigt forward:

pdfopt [ options ] input.pdf output.pdf

Just make sure that both PDF filenames are not the same. You might want to move output.pdf to input.pdf afterwards. This is what I do in my Makefile's for my LaTeX package prior to uploading them to CTAN.

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3  
I just gave it a try. First, I used Martin Heller's parameters then pdfopt with no option. It went from 857ko to 1163ko. It looks like it is not optimizing here of maybe the document gets larger in order to make the display of individual pages possible. –  pluton Mar 4 '11 at 13:29
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@pluton: Yes pdfopt is more for the web optimised format to be able to browse through the PDF without downloading it completely. The size might actually increase because of that. If the PDFs are intended to be simply downloaded as a whole another approach is more useful. –  Martin Scharrer Mar 4 '11 at 13:42
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I use qpdf instead of pdfopt. It web optimizes but doesn't increase the file size as much as pdfopt. According to Martin Schröder in the comment of tex.stackexchange.com/questions/19263/… it is so that "pdfopt runs a PDF through ghostscript: It's rendered into PDF. qpdf on the other hand knows about PDF and just fixes the file". –  N.N. Aug 11 '11 at 17:17

(Not specifically font related)

A way to create smaller documents with pdf(La)TeX is to use

\pdfminorversion=5
\pdfobjcompresslevel=3 
\pdfcompresslevel=9

This will generally produce considerably smaller files but it requires pdf version 1.5 and might not be readable by old pdf-viewers.

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This is going to be the default in TeX Live 2010 (and is for those of us with thre pretest) –  Joseph Wright Aug 23 '10 at 21:11
    
I've tried this and found no difference in the output (using MacTeX 2009). The \pdfminorversion setting just seems to change the version number arbitrarily (I can set it to any value it seems). Are there more requirements to making these commands actually have an effect? e.g. a specific version of pdf(la)tex? –  drfrogsplat Aug 24 '10 at 3:04
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\pdfminorversion=X will generate a pdf in version 1.X. Some packages will set \pdfminorversion or \pdfcompresslevel (hyperref, flashmovie). Try use the commands in a minimal document. They are not changing things in arbitrary ways. –  Martin Heller Aug 24 '10 at 20:52

Using true type fonts that are specified in the PDF standard (and thus available with every conforming pdf viewer) dramatically reduces for me the file size of PDFs generated with pdflatex. Else, other fonts are included in the generated PDF which increases the file size.

For example via

\usepackage{mathptmx}
\usepackage[scaled=.95]{helvet}
\usepackage{courier}

The scaling of helvet is needed, because it is by default a bit larger.

Note that the package times is obsolete.

Using common PostScript fonts with LaTeX describes these packages and more.

Edit To get a list of fonts the PDF standard 1.4 specifies see section 2.2.3 (page 36) and section 5.5.1 (page 339). To quote:

These fonts, or their font metrics and suitable substitution fonts, are guaranteed
to be available to the viewer application.

Section 9.6.2.2 of the PDF standard 1.7 uses a slightly other wording:

[..]These fonts, or their font metrics and suitable substitution fonts, shall be available
 to the conforming reader.

Thus for example, the acrobat reader on an (relatively) obscure Solaris system comes with some otf/pfb font files.

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Whether or not these fonts actually get embedded depends on the configuration of your tex setup. In texlive, the settings dvipsDownloadBase35 and pdftexDownloadBase14 control this for the dvips and pdftex compilation routes, respectively. –  Lev Bishop Aug 23 '10 at 7:55
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And always embedding these "standard" fonts might be a good idea, as they are not available e.g. in Adobe Reader. –  Jukka Suomela Aug 23 '10 at 8:36
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Besides the Reader issue: if the fonts are not embedded than you have to pray that the font named 'Times-Roman' on the client side is indeed identical to the one you used for creating the PDF. I have had a few problems in the past where this was not the case. For safely, always embed subsets of all fonts. –  Taco Hoekwater Aug 23 '10 at 10:41
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responding to the answer Edit: be warned that 'a suitable substitution' according to Adobe may not be at all what you had in mind when creating the document. I just tried a document with non-embedded fonts, and got Adobe Sans MM and Adobe Serif MM as the used fonts. –  Taco Hoekwater Aug 23 '10 at 13:32
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you note the difference between "are guaranteed to be available" (pdf standard 1.4) and "shall be available" (pdf standard 1.7). the words are different, but "shall be available" is standard-ese for the guarantee (remember that the pdf standard has been through the iso standardisation process, and that's one of the things that happens in that operation. –  wasteofspace Feb 24 '12 at 12:00

Give this a try:

#!/bin/bash
file=$1
filebase=$(basename $file .pdf)
gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=${filebase}_verkleinert.pdf ${filebase}.pdf

Save it as a shell script and call it with

sh <shellscriptname>.sh <nameofyourpdffile>
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7  
Since you're using bash you don't need basename. You can just do this instead: ${file%.pdf}. q.v. tldp.org/LDP/abs/html/string-manipulation.html –  kahen Feb 24 '12 at 12:32

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