Here's a minimal working example to illustrate the issue. Suppose we make a document like this




Then crop it with pdfcrop in two ways

pdfcrop 1.pdf a.pdf --margin="0 0 -5 -530"


pdfcrop 1.pdf b.pdf --margin="0 0 -5 -560"

Then make a second document




Here's a screenshot of what results: enter image description here

The line of twos which was supposed to be cropped is still visible when highlighted!

Is there a way to definitively crop a pdf, without content remaining in this way? Either using pdfcrop or not.

In the past I've succeeded in removing such leftovers by converting to ps and back with pdf2ps and ps2pdf, but for more complex situations it tends to rasterize certain parts of vector graphics, which is what I'm trying to avoid.

  • 1
    pdfcrop is not able to crop in a non-rectangular way, therefore I do not think, that image a and b are based on the same source file (BTW, there are empty lines missing before the \vspace commands). Since the extension is not specified, there might be a b.png around, which is tried and included before b.pdf. – Heiko Oberdiek May 27 '15 at 2:17
  • @HeikoOberdiek I'm not asking for pdfcrop to crop "in a non-rectangular way". – SU3 May 27 '15 at 3:55
  • 1
    That's not the point, have you checked the .log file, that the expected images are included? – Heiko Oberdiek May 27 '15 at 5:37
  • @HeikoOberdiek Yes, I did. I updated the post to include pdf extension. That's not the point. My question is about pdfcrop leaving text beyond the margin. It has nothing to do with what is in the second tex file or how it is compiled. The questions is about the output of pdfcrop! The second tex document is only to illustrate the problem. Thanks for trying to help, but I think you are misunderstanding the question. – SU3 May 27 '15 at 16:42
  • The line with 2s highlighted in blue is what I selected with my cursor. Without selecting, those 2s aren't visible. This is the behavior I'm trying to eliminate. I always occurs if I crop off text with pdfcrop, not just in this example. – SU3 May 27 '15 at 16:47

Cropping in pdfcrop, options viewport/trim of \includegraphics, or the very most other tools for cropping is done by shrinking the dimensions of the visible area, smaller values for /MediaBox or /CropBox. This is quite fast and easy to implement. But the contents of the whole page is untouched. That means, the part outside the crop area are still present, usually invisible, but present as you have seen by selecting the "invisible" text.

Removing this contents is highly expensive and complicated, because the whole PDF page contents needs to be analyzed and rewritten with the visible things only at the right places. And if objects (images, graphics elements, characters, ...) are both inside and outside the crop area it becomes quite fast quite ugly.

I am interested in tools, which are able to do a "deep" cropping with removal of objects, but I do not know such a tool.

  • To some degree it can be done manually, depending on the crop area, the objects, which are to be removed and, how the PDF page stream is written, and how deep the knowledge about PDF page stream syntax is. First, the PDF page stream needs to be uncompressed, e.g., via pdftk. Then the lines are identified, which generate unwanted contents, they can be removed by replacing the first byte by the comment char %. The size of the object stream should not be changed, otherwise many file offset values need to be corrected in the PDF structures. Of course the removal must not violate the syntax, also the current transfer matrix and other graphics state operators might be corrected.

  • Another option might be a vector graphics program, which can import and export PDF files. Then the unwanted objects might be removable there.

  • With some loss of quality, the PDF page can be converted to a bitmap image. Then the image can be easily cropped by many tools and image editors.

  • Any progress on that question? It is apparently possible with Acrobat – Clément Oct 5 '17 at 2:46
  • @Clément The comments below the answer of ssa say that the page is converted to a bitmap; the way of the last item of my answer. Thus, if not even Acrobat is able to do it properly, then I would not expect any progress soon. – Heiko Oberdiek Oct 5 '17 at 5:18
  • I missed that part! Ok, thanks, indeed, if even Acroabat can't do it, I shouldn't expect any progress soon. And it's easy to wait, now that we have your pdfcrop tool! – Clément Oct 5 '17 at 13:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.