Reduce PDF size by sub-setting or removing fonts

If you use non-system fonts in PDF file content these will be embedded by default when the file is saved.  So a full copy of the entire character set of each non-system font is stored in the file. This ensures that when the file is shared the content looks the same to each user no matter what fonts they have on their system. However, this does mean that the file size may increase dramatically especially if many different non-system fonts have been used.

What fonts are in my file?

It is possible to use the free Adobe Reader DC software to find out which fonts are in your file. It also indicates which fonts are subsetted and which are not.

  1. Open the PDF file with Adobe Reader DC
  2. Select the option Properties... under the File menu option.
  3. In the Document Properties window select the Fonts tab
  4. Review the fonts that are embedded in the file. It will also indicate whether the fonts have been already been subsetted.


How to subset or remove embedded fonts in a PDF file

Subset the embedded fonts with NXPowerLite

When a file has subsetted fonts only those characters that are actually used in the content are stored in the Office file. If the "$" character doesn’t appear anywhere in the text, that character is not included in the font. This means that PDF files with subsetted fonts are smaller than PDF files with embedded fonts.

NXPowerLite can subset embedded fonts to embed only the characters used in the PDF document. To do this you need to create a new settings profile and apply it to the PDF file when processing. Follow these steps:

1. Select New optimize profile... from the Optimize profile drop-down.


2. On the PDF tab check the Subset embedded fonts checkbox


3. Give the profile a name. For example, 'Subset PDF fonts'

4. Drag the PDF file onto NXPowerLite and optimize with the new Optimize profile applied.

5. Once complete the embedded fonts will be reduced to a subset of the full font character set.


Removing fonts with PDF editing application.

Removing fonts entirely will not change the content of the PDF file. However, as you are effectively changing the font to a system font, it may mean that the layout and spacing may change. It also means that you are not guaranteed the same layout on other user's computers. Removing fonts can significantly reduce the file size.

If you are planning on editing the file in a PDF editor at a later date it is recommended to leave the entire font embedded.

To remove fonts entirely you will need access to a PDF editing application. For this example, we use Adobe Acrobat Pro but it would be a similar process in any other PDF editing application.

You cannot remove fonts with the free software Adobe Acrobat Reader

1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat, click Advanced and choose PDF Optimizer.

2. Select only the Fonts checkbox in the left pane.

3. Select the font you want to remove from the Embedded fonts pane. You can select multiple fonts by pressing down the "Ctrl" key as you select multiple fonts.

4. Click Unembed and click OK.


5. Provide a name for the file, select where you want to save the file and click Save.

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