I created a plot using pgfplots. The plot is embedded in a document. The total size of the document is about 26 MB, while the plot is 12.5 MB.

The plot contains a lot of data which makes the pdf file quiet large, 12.4 MB in fact (Note: this is also caused due to the fact that I use the spy library of tikz). This causes the pdf reader become a bit slow when you look at the pag which includes the figure. The biggest problem I have is when I want to print the .pdf when using Adobe Acrobat. When I try to print it using Envince no problems occur. Because the document is most likely to be published I want to fix this, since (unfortunately) a lot of people use Adobe Acrobat.

Now I am wondering what the best approach would be for reducing the file size

  1. I can choose to remove data from the plot
  2. I can choose to convert the pdf to an image format, like .jpg or .png
  3. Try to reduce the .pdf file size, http://www.wikihow.com/Reduce-PDF-File-Size, which I tried
  4. ...?

Now I am wondering what the best approach would be.

Option 1 is not really possible since I want to keep the data, most of the plots are on top of each other and due to the fact that each plot has a certain opacity level you see the concentration where they bundle.

Option 2 is possible however than I loose the vector format. Zooming in in a pdf viewer would become pixely. The document which includes the figure is very likely to be published so I am not sure if I want this.

Option 3 I tried this but it only reduces the filesize with a few MB's, from 12.5 MB to 9 MB, so not that much.

For people that are interested the pdf file of the figure: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/20782274/pato_scenario_1_dataloss06_output.pdf

  • 1
    You could try essentially lowering the resolution and only plot every other point?
    – Juri Robl
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 10:44
  • Even if it is published nobody will be zooming in the gray area of the step response. It is the extreme ones that matters. You can safely remove the ones that are on top of each other. Is this a robust control exercise? Alternatively you can use dots for the curves. But to be honest, I guess the major problem is that you are using shadings or fadings instead of gray tones which always boosts up the file size.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 11:09
  • The plot shows 250 simulations. I made them gray with a certain opacity such you see the concentration. The topic is not robust control but how control systems are effected by data-losses at the input or output of the plant, for which we are able to calculate the mean and variance in time-domain as well as frequency domain. But thanks for you comment. I think I will just convert them to a .png file.
    – WG-
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


Procedure for printing export of single image PDFs:

  1. convert/export it to svg

    inkscape -l reduce_temp.svg pato_scenario_1_dataloss06_output.pdf

  2. generate HiDPI images: 1200dpi - common home printer resolution, 4800 - won't see much difference

    inkscape --export-png=reduce_out_1200.png --export-dpi=1200 reduce_temp.svg

    inkscape --export-png=reduce_out_2400.png --export-dpi=2400 reduce_temp.svg

    inkscape --export-png=reduce_out_4800.png --export-dpi=4800 reduce_temp.svg

  3. convert it to pdf:

    convert reduce_out_1200.png reduce_out_1200.pdf

    convert reduce_out_2400.png reduce_out_2400.pdf

    convert reduce_out_4800.png reduce_out_4800.pdf


 ls -lh reduce_* pato_scenario_1_dataloss06_output.pdf 
-rw-r----- 1 miroslav miroslav  12M Feb 10 15:44 pato_scenario_1_dataloss06_output.pdf
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 657K Feb 10 16:10 reduce_out_1200.pdf
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 918K Feb 10 16:07 reduce_out_1200.png
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 1.5M Feb 10 16:10 reduce_out_2400.pdf
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 2.0M Feb 10 16:09 reduce_out_2400.png
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 3.2M Feb 10 16:11 reduce_out_4800.pdf
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav 4.3M Feb 10 16:08 reduce_out_4800.png
-rw-r--r-- 1 miroslav miroslav  26M Feb 10 16:05 reduce_temp.svg

Procedure if you want images inside a PDF with text description, ie. not only plot image in PDF:

This has still one downside, it converts text into raster. It is good for printing, but bad for viewing using PC.

  1. generate PDF/SVG plot images
  2. convert them to HiDPI png images
  3. include these images in TeX file

You can see, that it provides (almost) loss-less conversion even on 1200DPI, 1500% scale: enter image description here

Also, it keeps size of image, 100% scale:

enter image description here

Procedure for text + image + fixed view in computer

  1. generate just plot graph images without any text in them
  2. convert them to HiDPI png images
  3. create figures - add description, plot axes, etc... paste PNG/raster image over it in TeX file. It is little bit harder to create, but it's possible.
  • I like your approach, I think I will use this method :)
    – WG-
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 10:23

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